The Revelstoke area has several endemic species according to a new study listing plants, insects and animals that exist in Canada and nowhere else.
The report, by the Nature Conservancy of Canada and NatureServe Canada was released in June to mark Canadian Environment Week.
It’s the first time such a list has been compiled.
“We hope the report will be a call to action,” said Dan Kraus, co-author of the study.
More than one-third of the 308 species on the list are at risk for extinction, with several already gone. Kraus said the list matters as it’s entirely up to Canadians to ensure these species survive.
“If we fail, they will be gone from the planet forever.”
According to the United Nations, one million plant and animal species are on the verge of extinction globally.
The highest number of endemic species in Canada, at 105, is found in B.C. Endemic refers to a native species restricted to a certain location.
One species, Thor’s Northern Caddisfly (Philocasca thor) is found in Glacier National Park and three are found near Mica Dam, including purple paintbrush (Castilleja purpurascens), crumpled tarpaper lichen (Collema coniophilum) and a liverwort (Frullania hattoriana).
The crumpled tarpaper lichen is listed as threatened, while the status of other three species is unknown.
The report notes areas on either side of Revelstoke, i.e. the Okanagan and Yoho National Park, are both hot spots for biodiversity.
Kraus said the report does highlight gaps in areas that require more data collection. For example, while there are few endemic species noted south of Revelstoke, that does not necessarily mean there are no unique species, rather it could indicate research is lacking in that area.
Kraus said one surprise in the report was how many species are at risk across Canada. While many species in southern Canada are threatened due to habitat loss, species in the north are at risk because of climate change.
The endangered caribou herds near Revelstoke were not included as they are not a subspecies. Subspecies refers to a population of a species that lives in different areas, but cannot interbreed due to geographic isolation or sexual selection.
Other unique species in B.C. include the dwarf coastal maidenhair fern, the threatened northern Saw-whet owl brooksi subspecies, the Island snow scorpionfly, the Pacific Steller’s jay, Vancouver Island fleabane, the threatened Vancouver lamprey and the endangered Carey small limestone moss.
Kraus said the aim is to keep updating the endemic list as new species are found. In the future, the list could include endemic ecosystems, which is another measure of biodiversity.
For example, aspen parkland in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta is a transitional ecosystem between boreal forest and grasslands that is unique to Canada.
Parkland is important habitat for many bird species, such as the loggerhead shrike and golden-winged warbler.
Only 10 per cent of parkland natural habitat remains intact as almost 90 per cent has been converted to farmland.
“We’ve liquidated much of the nature in Canada,” said Kraus.
To see the report and associated maps, visit storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/23b1ba2f0e2e46ce9a8c27412f414fc1.
Written with files from Shalu Mehta and Canadian Press
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