Following two years of work, Nature Conservancy Canada (NCC) and NatureServe Canada have put together the countries first catalogue of all its endemic species.
An endemic species is one that is entirely unique to a certain area. The report covers 308 plants, fungi, animal species, subspecies, and varieties only found in Canada. It also outlines the distribution, status, and conservation needs of these plants and creatures.
Manitoba is home to 31 of these species, 7 of which are only known from this province.
Of the 31 species that call Manitoba home, nearly 2/3 are invertebrates.
"We know around the world we are seeing an extinction crisis," says Dan Kraus, Senior Conservation Biologist with NCC. "Scientists have estimated up to a million species could be at risk of extinction in the next few decades. These are the plants and animals where no other country can protect them, and they're up to Canada alone to preserve for future generations."
Kraus says we've only begun to scratch the surface of discovering endemic species and learning about them.
"For some of the lesser-known species, there are many insects that remain to be discovered In Canada. Even as we were doing this report, there were new discoveries and descriptions of species. We hope the report if there are Universities out there, museums, or even students of biology, ecology, and evolution, they can realize they don't need to go somewhere else to make interesting or useful discoveries."
Most of the endemic species in Manitoba are found along the coast of Hudson Bay, or prairie and boreal ecoregions shared with Saskatchewan, and in Manitoba's north. Kraus says protecting these ecosystems is essential in preserving the biodiversity of our country.
Species found by the southern border face threats of habitat loss, and those in the north which have small populations and are found in small remote areas are vulnerable to climate change.
According to the report, less than 20% of Canada's endemic species have been assessed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.
"Endemic species in the northwestern part of Canada, where temperatures are rising very quickly, populations along the coast will be susceptible to rising sea levels and melting permafrost that's causing erosion," says Kraus.
He hopes the efforts to compile this information of our endemic life will inspire conservation efforts to protect these species. He adds we need to preserve the habitat these species rely on, and there is hope. Conservation efforts have helped save burrowing owls, peregrine falcons, the piping plover, and swift fox.