The 2018 Muskoka Watershed Report Card produced by the Muskoka Watershed Council features 8 different indicators of watershed health. Species at risk are one of these indicators, categorized as a threat indicator rather than a health indicator.
Species at risk are defined as plants and animals that are threatened with extinction, extirpation, or endangerment in a region due to natural and/or human-induced threats. These threats include: habitat loss, traffic mortality, disease, and invasive species. The increasing number of species at risk threatens local ecosystems and negatively impacts humans as we rely on healthy ecosystems to clean our air and water, as well as to support our resource-based economy.
There are 46 species at risk in the Muskoka Watershed. These species range in level of concern and are classified as either special concern, threatened, endangered or extirpated accordingly. As Muskoka is the northern limit for many southern species and the southern limit for many northern species, it is a biologically diverse haven. However, as human influences such as logging, road development and commercial development increase, these species are finding it more difficult to thrive here. Species at risk in the Muskoka Watershed include various birds, fish, insects, plants, snakes, lizards and turtles.
Becoming aware and involved is the best way to help species at risk. It is important to collect as much data as possible in order to understand how and where populations are declining. This can be done through citizen science initiatives in areas that rely on volunteers to help strengthen the existing data.
For more ideas on how to help species at risk and to see the different kinds of species at risk in Muskoka, view the 2018 Muskoka Watershed Report Card at https://www.muskokawatershed.org/.