Life Science Inventory Activities and Highlighted Findings

Sue And Mike Farabout

Life Science Activities and Highlighted Findings

In 2009, a Life Science Inventory of Farabout was produced by Sue and Mike Bryan who are both members of the Thunder Bay Field Naturalists.  With help from Coalition members Carolle Eady and Darlene Salter, data on flora and fauna was collected over a two-year period. Lists of vascular plants, birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies, and dragonflies identified are included in the Inventory.

For example, there is documentation of approximately 90 species of birds. Highlights of the bird list to date are the Great Grey Owl, Osprey, Olive-sided flycatcher, and the Canada Warbler. The Canada Warbler is considered as “threatened” on both provincial and national lists, and was observed and heard at more than 5 separate locations on the peninsula (including 2 sightings of adult pairs feeding young).

This life sciences inventory of Farabout Peninsula identified three species of provincially rare plants, 11 plant species of regional significance, including nine which are regionally rare, six significant bird species, and one reptile of significance.  Several significant habitats have been identified.

There is a substantial and interesting plant inventory on the peninsula. For example there are 13 species of orchids, including the rare White Adder’s-mouth orchid found in a stand of old growth cedar. The Farabout Peninsula has one of the few old-growth forest areas that are important to moose in this locale in Northwest Ontario.

Nine plants considered prairie indicator species were found on Farabout Peninsula.  Prairie species are poorly represented in Ontario’s protected areas. They often exist in pockets with little or no gene flow with other populations, and can be extremely susceptible to local extinction.  Limited gene flow with individuals from within the main range of the species may lead to genetic divergence within these isolated populations.  To preserve the full range of genetic diversity within the species and its evolutionary potential, it is essential to protect some of these unique extra-limited populations.

Old growth and mature forests of a great variety of types occur on Farabout Peninsula, and are a mix of Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Forest and Boreal Forest.  Some impressive old growth stands occur where they have escaped logging and fire.  The most impressive old growth forest is a pure stand of huge White Cedar with an understory rich in orchids.  Several areas of mature Black Ash trees are also present, often in association with stream and beaver dam complexes.  Burr Oak trees have been found growing separately or in small groups in three locations on Farabout. Old growth Red Pine and White Pine trees occur on rocky domes in the interior and along the steep rocky shorelines.  Mixed wood stands with Trembling Aspen, White Birch, and Balsam Fir predominate in areas selectively cut many years ago.  Boreal vegetation such as Jack pine stands and Black Spruce swamps also occur.

Special comment was offered in the Life Science Inventory to highlight the isthmus leading to the peninsula as an “environmentally sensitive” area. Proposed road construction was seen as seriously detrimental to the land bridge that was an animal corridor and nesting area, and to bordering weed beds that were active with muskie spawning.

Ontario Nature Magazine Article on Farabout Peninsula Wildlife