North American Prairie Conference


Date of this Version



Published in Prairie Pioneers: Ecology, History and Culture: Proceedings of the Eleventh North American Prairie Conference, August 7-11, 1988, Lincoln, Nebraska (Lincoln, NE 1989).


A two-year study was begun in 1985 to document and assess the highly significant natural history features of the Walpole Island Indian Reserve in southwestern Ontario, Canada. The northern part of the island complex, where extensive prairie, savannah, and hardwood communities remain, was divided into 30 areas. The southern part, consisting of agricultural lands and wetlands was not examined. Through intensive field study and literature search, over 800 vascular plant species have been recorded from Walpole. Of the total, 12% (97) are rare in Ontario, and 1 % (8) are not known elsewhere in Canada. Ninety-two species of birds have been confirmed as breeding, including 27 rare and one threatened species. An additional 44 species are probable breeders. Twenty-six species of herptiles were recorded including five of which are rare or declining. Twenty-four species of mammals have been recorded, including one rare species. Fifty-nine species of butterflies are known from Walpole Island, six of which are rare in Ontario. The results of this study confirm that Walpole Island contains the most significant tallgrass prairie and oak savannah, and associated flora and fauna remaining in Canada. Using six criteria, the 30 areas of the Island were priortized to provide the native people with a rationale for future conservation strategies.