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      Biosphere Reserve Information



  General Description   Riding Mountain Biosphere Reserve is located in south central Canada, some 300 km north-west of Winnipeg, Manitoba. It is situated at the junction of the grassland and boreal forest biome. Forests cover most of the area, dominated by aspen (Populus tremuloides). Although grasslands occupy only 7,400 of the total 1,331,800 hectares, they are of national importance since they exist as discrete units and the rare climax rough fescue community represents the eastern extent of its range. This was the reason for its designation as a national park (core area of the biosphere reserve). The grasslands once occurred throughout southern Manitoba but they have been transformed since the European settlement in the late 19th century. The biosphere reserve also includes agricultural areas which used to be forests or grasslands. The forest ecosystem maintains many larger mammals, such as black bear (Ursus americanus), gray wolf (Canis lupus) and coyote (Canis latrans).
Descendants of the Ojibwa First Nations live in four relatively small Indian Reserves within the transition zone. The rest of the area was settled mainly by people of Ukrainian, English, French or Scandinavian descent. Some 28,400 people live in the biosphere reserve on a permanent basis. However, peak summer weekends can bring many thousands of visitors to the area (2001). The region supports a rural agricultural economy supplemented by tourism associated mainly with the national park.
The national park maintains a well-developed interpretive center with a wide variety of public information materials.
  Major ecosystem type   Temperate grasslands / Boreal needle-leaf forests or woodlands
  Major habitats & land cover types   Mixedwood forest dominated by aspen (Populus tremuloides), balsam poplar (P. balsamifera), white spruce (Picea glauca) on well-drained sites; black spruce (P. mariana) and tamarack (Larix laricina) on wetter sites; and jack pine (Pinus banksiana) on well-drained sandy sites; eastern hardwoods characterized by white elm (Ulmus americana), Manitoba maple (Acer negundo), mountain maple (A. spicatum), green ash (Frazinus pennsylvanica) and bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa); aspen and oak parklands with aspen, balsam poplar and bur oak surrounded by grasslands; grassland ecosystems dominated by rough fescue (Festuca halli - part of the F. scabrella complex); agroecosystems with grain cereals, forage crops, canola and lentils; pasture land; rural areas, cities and towns; elk and bison ranches
  Location   5045'N; 10019'W
  Area (hectares)    
  Total   1,331,800
  Core area(s)   270,800
  Buffer zone(s)   26,800
  Transition area(s) when given   1,034,200
  Altitude (metres above sea level)   +304 to +755
  Year designated   1986
  Administrative authorities   Riding Mountain National Park Riding Mountain Biosphere Reserve Management Committee
  Brief description   Erosion impacts of streams flowing off the escarpment
Water quality in 15 lakes, and hydrological monitoring
Possible climate change trends through analyses of available meteorological records
Pollen analyses from lake bottom sediments to describe vegetation changes
Winter aerial surveys of elk, moose, and beaver catches as a basis for population estimates
Nesting data on herons (Ardea herodias), bald eagles (Haliaetus leucocephalus) and ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) and resumption of a breeding bird survey route in the park
Creel surveys for fish
Monitoring cadmium uptake in liver and kidneys of moose and elk
Establishment of an ungulate disease testing facility in the park, especially to test for bovine tuberculosis in elk, and monitor baseline health of ungulates generally
Movement and habitats of black bears
Study of habitat suitability for lynx
Quantification of change in habitat diversity and complexity in the national park
Establishment of Smithsonian Institution biodiversity monitoring plot (SI/MAB) in the eastern hardwoods forest association, and plan to establish a similar plot in a grassland site
Grassland ecology , and rough fescue vegetation assemblages
Grassland restoration project
Structure and dynamics of bur oak (Quercus macrocarpus) stands
Study of land use change since 1873 through the use of original land survey records, air photos and satellite imagery
Introduction of GIS and historical land use data
GIS mapping of location of cattle herds as background information for monitoring elk/cattle interactions and related issues of animal health
Demonstration of portable sawmills for on-farm use of poplar wood
Study of public attitudes towards wildlife, especially wolves
Cooperative beaver management
Aboriginal or traditional uses of the park area
Historical timber harvesting and forest fires (literature review)
Effectiveness of a 1972-1979 alternative land use program along the Manitoba escarpment through air photos analyses of land use change, questionnaire survey and interviews
  Specific variables...    
  Abiotic   Climate, erosion, habitat, heavy metals, hydrology, meteorology, monitoring/methodologies.
  Biodiversity   Beach/soft bottom, biodiversity, birds, breeding/reproduction, ecology, fires/fire ecology, fishes, forest systems, freshwater/inland water, methodologies, pests/diseases, plants, population genetics/population dynamics, restoration/rehabilitation/redevelopment, species inventorying/inventory, temperate grassland, vegetation studies/plant cover, wildlife.
  Socio-economic   Forestry, livestock and related impacts/overgrazing, people-nature relations/man/nature, traditional practices/ethnology/traditional knowledge.
  Integrated monitoring   Geographic Information System/GIS, impact and risk studies/environmental impact, land use/land cover, management issues, monitoring/methodologies.
  Contact address   John Whitaker
Riding Mountain Biosphere Reserve
P.O. Box 399
R0J 1N0 Erickson, Manitoba
  Telephone   (1.204) 636 2595
  Fax   (1.204) 636 2595

Last updated: 26/02/2007

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