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Map of the Mixedwood Plains ecozone  

Location | Climate | Geology and geography | Flora and fauna | Humans | Images

The Mixedwood Plains extends along the Quebec City-Windsor corridor, including the densely-populated region of southern Ontario.

Smallest of the ecozones, the Mixedwood Plains is nonetheless home to half of Canada's population. Its cool winters (average temperature -5șC) and warm summers (average temperature 17șC) are prone to highly changeable weather, as the ecozone is in one of the major storm tracks of North America.

Geology and Geography
Plains and gently rolling hills are found here. Several major waterways and lakes, from three of the great lakes to the St. Lawrence river and its tributaries, dominate much of the region. Deposits from ancient water bodies and glaciers make the soil here the most productive in Canada. Carbonate-rich Paleozoic bedrock characterizes the geology of the Mixedwood Plains.

Flora and Fauna
Urbanization and agriculture have reduced the ancient forests drastically. A mix of coniferous and deciduous trees are found here. Some of the coniferous trees include white pine, red pine, eastern hemlock, black spruce, eastern red cedar, and eastern white cedar.
Sugar maple, red maple, striped maple, silver maple, red oak, white oak, chestnut oak, chinquapin oak, white elm, slippery elm, yellow birch, paper birch, black walnut, butternut, eastern cottonwood, trembling aspen, balsam poplar, basswood, blue ash, black ash, sassafras, tulip tree, sycamore, cucumber-tree, shagbark hickory, bitternut hickory, red mulberry, and Kentucky coffee-tree are some of the deciduous trees. Other plants include the downy serviceberry.

The largest carnivores in the ecozone are the black bear, wolf and bobcat, while the large herbivores are the moose and
white-tailed deer. The smaller carnivores that can be found include coyote, muskrat, raccoon, skunk, red fox, and river otter. Some of the smaller herbivores here are the grey squirrel, black squirrel, red squirrel, southern flying squirrel, eastern cottontail, snowshoe hare, beaver, white-footed mouse, southern bog lemming, and groundhog (woodchuck). The only marsupial is the opossum. Various whales, including the beluga, can be seen in the waters of the St-Lawrence seaway.

Characteristic birds of prey include red-shouldered hawk, cooper's hawk, broad-winged hawk, northern goshawk, screech owl, northern saw-whet owl, short-eared owl, long-eared owl, and turkey vulture. Among the numerous songbirds are the red-winged blackbird, grasshopper sparrow, Baltimore oriole, Carolina wren, ruby-throated hummingbird, cedar waxwing, whip-poor-will, Henslow’s sparrow, purple finch, cardinal, blue jay, brown creeper, and sedge wren. Some of the birds of the forest include ruffed grouse, wild turkey, northern flicker, northern bobwhite, wood thrush, mourning dove, downy woodpecker, red-headed woodpecker, and pileated woodpecker. Waterfowl include Canada goose, green heron, great blue heron, American black duck, wood duck, northern pintail, blue-winged teal, and mallard. Some of the shorebirds are the spotted sandpiper, upland sandpiper, american bittern, common snipe, killdeer, black tern, and yellow rail.

Reptiles and Amphibians
Many species of reptiles and amphibians are found here. The frogs and toads that live in the Mixedwood Plains include the tetraploid gray treefrog, striped chorus frog, northern leopard frog, wood frog, bullfrog, green frog, pickerel frog, American toad, and spring peeper. Several salamander and newt species, such as the mudpuppy, eastern newt, blue-spotted salamander, Jefferson salamander, yellow-spotted salamander, and eastern redback salamander, live here. Eight species of turtles are common to the area, including stinkpot, common snapping turtle, wood turtle, map turtle, spotted turtle, spiny softshell, blanding's turtle, and painted turtle. The most common snake is the eastern garter snake, but other snakes include eastern ribbon snake, Butler's garter snake, northern water snake, redbelly snake, smooth green snake, ringneck snake, brown snake, eastern hognose snake, massasauga, and queen snake. The sole lizard is the five-lined skink.

The large number of introduced fish is largely the result of shipping and canals, which have allowed invasive species to move through the area. Lampreys are the most famous of the invasive fish in the Great Lakes. Predatory fish in the waters of the area include lake sturgeon, longnose gar, walleye, bowfin, white perch (introduced), brown trout, brook trout, lake trout, common carp (introduced), Atlantic tomcod, northern pike, muskellunge, and largemouth bass. They prey on such fish as the cisco (lake herring), lake whitefish, central mudminnow, and golden shiner. The anadramous fish, who live in the ocean but come into freshwater to breed, include kokanee (sockeye) salmon, rainbow smelt (introduced), alewife, sea lamprey (introduced), American brook lamprey, silver lamprey, and northern brook lamprey.

The molluscs include the brown mystery snail, valve snail, ordinary spire snail, river-bank looping snail, great lakes horn snail, oval lake-limpet, black sand-shell, eastern elliptio, and olive hickory-nut. The zebra mussel, a relatively recent invader, has caused widespread damage to natural and human systems in the Great Lakes.

Some of the insects found here are the German cockroach, American cockroach, eastern metallic green wood borer, red turpentine beetle, European earwig, boreal spittlebug, silver-spotted skipper, spring azure, american copper, monarch butterfly, mourning cloak, eastern black swallowtail, European mantis, migratory grasshopper, and walking stick.

Half of Canada's population lives here, and it contains the country's two largest cities, Toronto and Montreal. Agricultural land is steadily being covered by cities, and the population density has led to some of the highest levels of pollution in the country. Ecological degradation is extensive, due to industry and the population size. Many species have been introduced to the ecozone and some, most notably the sea lamprey and zebra mussel, are very detrimental to other species.

Niagra Falls, Ontario


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