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Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 88, Issue 1–3, pp 343–364 | Cite as

Monitoring the Conservation of Grassland Habitats, Prairie Ecozone, Canada

  • David A. Gauthier
  • Ed B. Wiken
Article

Abstract

The Prairie Ecozone contains 5% of Canada's land area and represents 16% of the Great Plains of North America. Current estimates indicate that 25–30% of original Canadian grassland habitats remain, largely concentrated in southeastern Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan with fragments distributed throughout southern Manitoba. The size, distribution and condition of native grasslands serve as valuable indicators of the ecological integrity and the sustainability of those landscape types. With so little native grasslands remaining, areas that conserve grasslands serve as core sites for indicators such as gaps in ecosystem and wildlife habitat protection, i.e. which ecosystems are well-represented, poorly represented or have no representation. Such gap analyses helps to determine where protection efforts need to be placed in the future. Overall, about 3.5% of the Prairie Ecozone of Canada is under some form of conservation area status. This paper reports, relative to the ecoregions and political jurisdictions of the Prairie Ecozone, on the amount and distribution of various types of conservation areas and native grasslands. Relationships between the occurrence of conservation areas and grasslands are presented. Implications for conservation area planning and management are discussed within regional, national and international contexts. The issue of which characteristics of conservation areas should be assessed and monitored to address conservation objectives for sustainability is also discussed.

grasslands habitats monitoring prairie ecozone 

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • David A. Gauthier
    • 1
  • Ed B. Wiken
    • 2
  1. 1.Canadian Plains Research Center, University of Regina, Canadian Plains Research CenterUniversity of ReginaRegina
  2. 2.National Habitat Status ProgramWildlife Habitat CanadaOttawaCanada

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