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Thousand Islands National Park of Canada

Ecosystem Monitoring

Zebra Mussels
Zebra Mussels
© Parks Canada

Ecosystem monitoring is an essential tool used at Canada's 39 national parks, including St. Lawrence Islands, to gauge their ecological integrity. In the 1997 State of the Parks Report, the highest levels of impairment to ecological integrity were reported at Point Pelee National Park, Prince Edward Island National Park, Pacific Rim National Park and St Lawrence Islands National Park. An important step in dealing with the high level of impairment at St. Lawrence Islands has been the identification of unfavourable environmental conditions and the selection of management actions to mitigate them. In 1998, a questionnaire was developed to determine man-made threats to the 1000 Islands ecosystem. Thirty were identified and nine were found to be of particular significance:

  • Direct human disturbance - from sewage, solid waste, trailside compaction and erosion, etc...
  • Exotic invertebrates - out-competing or filling niches vacated by native species (e.g. Zebra Mussels)
  • Urbanization - increasing pressures from development including shoreline intrusions, strip building along roadways
    Exotic vegetation - (e.g. Purple Loosestrife)
  • Sport fishing - too much pressure on game fish species
  • Climate change - global warming from greenhouse gases
  • Heavy metals - by-product pollution
  • Transportation and utility corridors - affecting habitat connectivity
  • Forestry - forest habitat loss due to extraction

It is worth noting that, at St. Lawrence Islands, the significant threats were found to be mainly from external sources and not from visitation to the park.

Ecological Indicators

The extent of the threat posed by human activity is measured by evaluating the condition of a number of biological features to see how they are being affected..

The following features were chosen for evaluation:

Species and Population Level

  • Bullfrog
  • Black Rat Snake
  • Herpetile species diversity

Community Level

  • Wetlands
  • Forest Productivity
  • Fish Species Diversity
  • Invertebrate Species Diversity

Landscape Level

  • St Lawrence River quality
  • Landscape change detection
  • Forest fragmentation

Pitch Pine Post

To read up on some of the ecological monitoring projects, check out these articles in the Pitch Pine Post.

Vol. 1, No.1

Mapping it out
Mighty but small
Frogs tell tale of ecosystem health
Turtle population in crisis

Vol. 1, No. 2

Beach bean: Beach what?!
Healthy osprey population
Landowners get involved in CSI: Mallorytown
Not very common anymore
Park initiates long-term wetland study
Search for muskellunge
Too little deerberry
Track local eagles online
Turtle study has positive impact on local population
Turtles and snakes and trees, oh my!

For more detailed information on the ecological monitoring projects in the park, please contact us at or telephone (613) 923-5261.