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Species at Risk

Point Pelee National Park of Canada and the Carolinian Life Zone

What is the Carolinian life zone?

People walking along a trail through the deciduous forest in Point Pelee National Park
People walking along a trail through the deciduous forest in Point Pelee National Park
© Parks Canada / B. Morin / 2003

The Carolinian Life Zone is a natural region characterized by the dominance of deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves in the winter), which is why it is also called the eastern deciduous forest. In Canada , this zone is found only in southwestern Ontario and is represented by Point Pelee National Park of Canada in Parks Canada's system of protected areas.

The endangered Prothonotary Warbler
The threatened Hooded Warbler
© Parks Canada / JR Graham

Point Pelee National Park is the most southern point of the Canadian mainland. It is known for its bird and monarch butterfly migrations as well as by its unique forest composition. Due to the region's southern location and the modifying effects of the surrounding Great Lakes, the plants and animals found in this zone are similar to southern species found in North and South Carolina in the United States.

Where is the Carolinian life zone found?

The Carolinian Life Zone extends northward from the Carolinas, up between the Mississippi River and the Appalachian Mountains, to its northernmost point in southwestern Ontario.

In Ontario, the Carolinian Life Zone stretches south of an imaginary line drawn between the southern end of Lake Huron and the north shore of Lake Ontario, in the Toronto area. This area is very small and encompasses less than 0.25% of our country's total land area.

What is so special about the Carolinian life zone?

The endangered Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus
The endangered Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus
© Parks Canada / P. McCloskey / 1976

The Carolinian Life Zone supports a tremendous diversity of life, including over 70 species of trees, 27 different species of reptiles and more than 20 unique species of amphibians! The tremendous variety of wildlife makes this location a Canadian hot spot, with more rare species of plants and animals than any other region in Canada!

Over 60 COSEWIC-listed species at risk are found in the Carolinian Life Zone. These include:

Species Status
Acadian Flycatcher Endangered
Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus Endangered
Lake Erie Watersnake Endangered
Prothonotary Warbler Endangered
Eastern Spiny Softshell Turtle Threatened
Eastern Fox Snake Threatened
Eastern Mole Special Concern
Monarch Butterfly Special Concern
Swamp Rose Mallow Special Concern

Birds resting on a sand spit
Birds resting on a sand spit
© Parks Canada / Jim Flynn

In the spring, the zone becomes a busy centre of activity because it is the northern limit for the breeding of numerous birds!