Continuing Environmental Change - An Example from Nova Scotia


  • Edmund S. Telfer Scientist Emeritus, Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada



Nova Scotia, plant and animal diseases, change in biota, climate change, adaptive management


Information from personal experience, from community elders and published literature served as a basis for evaluating environmental changes in the District of North Queens and adjacent areas of Southwestern Nova Scotia over the past century. Major events included disappearance of the Caribou (Rangifer tarandus), the arrival of White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus), the severe reduction of Canada Yew (Taxus canadensis), disappearance of Lynx (Lynx canadensis), a major dieoff of Striped Skunks (Mephitis mephitis), decline of American Beech (Fagus grandifolia), the loss of mature birch (Betula spp.), the severe reduction of Moose (Alces alces), the arrival of the American Dog Tick (Dermacentor variabilis) and Coyotes (Canis latrans), and the restoration of Beaver (Castor canadensis). The proximate cause of many of those changes were plant and animal disease, while the ultimate causes were naturally occurring animal range expansion and human impacts. The warming of the climate over the past 150 years probably played a role. The nature and timing of the events could not have been predicted.