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Review of Saskatchewan Biomes and Land Changes Since Colonization



In this lab, you will apply everything you learned in the last lab on resources and referencing, as well as the feedback you got on that assignment, to write a longer paper (1300 to 1700 words). There will be two parts to this paper: a review of four Saskatchewan biomes; then a description of how the land has changed since colonization for one of these biomes.

Your paper should include the following:

The purpose of the Introduction is to give your readers some background information, and tell them in brief what you will be discussing in more detail in the body of the paper.  You may wish to leave the Introduction until you have collected all your research material, or even until you have written the body of the paper.  Suggested length: 350 words.

Body of the Paper - Part 1
You need to cover these topics for the Prairie, Taiga, Boreal Shield and Boreal Plain biomes :

size, location in Saskatchewan, major communities, major water bodies climate (temperature, wind, precipitation, photoperiod) geography (landforms, soils, vegetation) and land use (e.g. farming, recreation) plants and wildlife unique to the area any other interesting facts you find (optional)

When you are writing about a species, use the common name (e.g. domestic cat) as well as the Latin name (e.g. Felis catus) upon first mention. Note that in the latter case, the first word is capitalized but the second is not, and both words are italicized. Thereafter, it is fine to refer to it using the common name.

Body of the Paper - Part 2

For this part of the paper, you will write about how the land has changed in the Prairie biome, and how this has affected aboriginal people. There are no specific facts or topics to cover for this part of the paper - it will depend on the research you do. Again, feel free to add any visual elements to illustrate your work. Suggested length: 500 words

A conclusion is not necessary.

Taiga Shield

A Land of Stunted Trees and Countless Lakes

Welcome to the Taiga Shield ecozone in northern Saskatchewan! Winters are cold and long, and nutrients are scarce, yet many plants and animals thrive here. 

About This Area

The Taiga Shield consists of two very different ecoregions. In the east, sloping uplands are dominated by open-canopy forests with a lichen groundcover. In the west, the climate is warmer, the land is more rugged, and a thicker forest gives way to rushing water and exposed bedrock.

Your paper should include the following:

The entire region is relatively cold and dry, receiving less than 400 millimetres of precipitation per year. Where soil occurs, it is thin and sandy, supporting stunted trees. In a few areas, the ground is frozen all year round. Some Arctic plants occur, and cold-water fish are abundant, but land animals are scarce, except for billions of insects!

Thriving on Scarcity

A short growing season, cold winters, thin soils, and limited moisture make the taiga a harsh place to live. Local plants, animals, and other organisms have some amazing adaptations that help them survive. Lichens are common in upland areas because they are well-suited to dry conditions. Some animals have highly specialized diets, while others time their breeding to take advantage of the short northern winter.

Boreal Shield

A Mosaic of Forests, Lakes, and Rocks

We are now moving into the Boreal Shield ecozone, a wide band of forests, peatlands, lakes, and exposed bedrock. Up here, winter survival means dealing with low temperatures and deep snow.

About This Area

Most of the north-west part of the Boreal Shield sits on soft, porous sandstone covered by thick glacial deposits. Elsewhere, the bedrock is harder, less permeable, and overlain by thin soils.

Even though more precipitation falls here compared to the taiga, the area is generally drier than the far north because of higher evaporation rates. Biodiversity increases towards the south-east as plant life and wildlife habitats become more variable.

Boreal Winter

Snow and cold temperatures have a strong influence on boreal ecosystems.

The Snowshoe Hare (Lepus americanus) is the smallest mammal that stays active above the snow all winter long. Smaller animals lose heat more rapidly, so they either lie dormant or spend much of the winter moving about under the snow.

Where snow provides an insulating blanket, some insects, spiders, and small mammals stay active for much of the winter. At the same time, deep snow can make walking and running difficult for larger predators and their prey.

The diorama shows the aftermath of a successful hunt by a pack of Grey Wolves (Canis lupus). The landscape is typical of sites near La Ronge, just south of the Churchill River.

Boreal Plain

A Rolling Expanse of Mixed-wood Forest

The next stop on our southward journey is the Boreal Plain ecozone. Water is abundant and the climate is warm, producing a thick forest with scattered peatlands.

About This Area The Boreal Plain cuts a broad swath across the middle of the province.

Wildlife is abundant and diverse, and some areas provide critical nesting habitat for waterfowl.

In the north-west, the climate is cool and dry, peatlands are common, and the forest is dominated by aspen or coniferous trees. In the east, favourable growing conditions support the largest variety of plant species and the most productive mixed-wood forest in the province

Water and Biodiversity 

Moist habitats often support high levels of biodiversity. Plant communities tend to be highly productive and diverse in moist valleys, and along the shores of lakes, rivers, streams, and ponds.

Animals also tend to be more abundant in wet areas, with some species stopping for a drink and others finding suitable breeding and feeding habitats in the lush plant growth.

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