Wetland Biodiversity: A Message to Take Home
Volume 1 Number 17 - December 1998
Dr. John D. Ambrose
Wetlands are one of the most diverse and productive ecosystems on the earth. In southern Ontario alone 80-90% of the pre-settlement wetland base has been lost due to drainage, filling or habitat alteration. This enormous loss of habitat is of major concern since 24% of the world's wetlands are found in Canada. Wetlands provide many important environmental functions. In addition to providing habitat for a diversity of plant and animal species, wetlands also recharge ground water supply acting as a reservoir for fresh water. Wetlands also act as a buffer to moderate flooding, reduce erosion and purify water.
Exhibits at the Toronto Zoo
The Toronto Zoo has developed two outdoor exhibits that feature created native wetland systems; the Wetland Habitats, a series of ponds and adjacent meadows, and the Waterway Wetlands, a large marsh fed by a meandering stream of typical pool and riffle morphology. Both systems take advantage of surface run-off from the surrounding land and are also connected to the zoo's waterway. Both systems were planted with different combinations of species native to regional wetlands and typical of the hydrology and form of the individual pond or marsh. The animals inhabiting the wetlands have colonized the areas on their own, from various aquatic invertebrates, terrestrial and aquatic insects, to an array of frogs, toads, and birds. When the sites were under planning in 1993, all curators were asked what features they would like to see in the new habitats. This resulted in a plan with high habitat diversity, including ponds of different depths, substrates and plant communities, adjacent meadows, a developing forest, and even a snake hibernaculum.
Adopt-A-Pond Wetland Conservation Programme
The exhibits complement an educational programme that addresses local wetland conservation. The Adopt-A-Pond Programme was developed at the Toronto Zoo in 1991 and now over 1200 schools are involved. Staff responsible for Adopt-A-Pond collaborate with and provide educational material and resources for national and international partners in the effort to raise concern for the protection and restoration of wetlands globally. Also to provide action opportunities in our own schoolyards and backyards.
La présentation de l'écosystème reconstitué permet au public visiteur de se familiariser avec des systèmes interactif (c'est parfois le premier contact avec un système naturel), ils sont interpellés par la diversité des espèces peuplant le milieu et gagnent en compréhension et en appréciation de tels systèmes et les potentialités fournies par le paysage régional au sens large. Le programme zoologique " Adopte une Marre " avec plus de 1200 écoles vient à l'appui de ces expositions et avec les programmes scolaires aide les populations à s'investir dans la création et la conservation de zones humides, spécialement dans les zones urbaines. Ces expositions expérimentales servent aussi de modèle pour nos visiteurs afin qu'ils perçoivent les opportunités qu'ils ont d'effectuer des changements dans leur propre communauté ou dans leur vie personnelle : elles sont particulièrement adaptées aux jardins publics et aux zoos.
Para más información sobre los programas del Zoo de Toronto, mire en nuestras páginas web: www.Torontozoo.com
About the Author
Dr. John D. Ambrose co-ordinated the planning and development of these exhibits; he is Curator of Botany, Toronto Zoo, 361A Old Finch Ave, Scarborough, ON M1B 5K7 Canada. Tel: (416) 392-5973, FAX: (416) 392-4979,e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Heather Passmore, an educator, co-ordinates the Adopt-A-Pond Programme at the Toronto Zoo. Tel: (1) 416 392 5968, FAX: (1) 416 392 4979, e-mail: email@example.com
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