Granite barrens are generally naturally open habitats consisting of exposed granite rock. Two although never entirely barren hosting a range of scattered trees, shrubs and grassy areas, area is dominant in bare rock with lichen and moss throughout.
16 provincially rare species are present along with 29 regionally rare plants. In addition to the rare species of dry sites, the barren landscapes contain rare coastal plain elements, most of which are wetland plants. There remain few detailed reports on the rare plant species of barren landscapes with little to no expansion on the unique characteristics within the Kaladar Jack Pine Barrens, or surrounding barrens for that matter over the last 20 years. The last SCI for the Kaladar Jack Pine Barrens was in 2001 and will be noted below in the references.
The five-lined skink is Ontario’s only native species of lizard. 80% of occurrences with the rare five-lined skink are on granite barrens in Ontario. Similarly, the rare black rat snake has most of its Ontario localities within the granite rock barrens. Several butterflies are specifically confinied to the Ontario rock barrens such as the olympia mablewing, chryxus arctic, and the rare gray hairstreak.
The prairie warbler is an extremely rare bird in Canada where there are likely less than 300 pairs. In Ontario, more than 80% of prairie warblers are in protected granite barrens.
Researchers have largely neglected the flora and fauna on dry granite rock barrens in Ontario. Fortunately, the protection of the Kaladar Jack Pine Barrens was brought forth in 1994. While studying and learning from this property, more can be done to protect similar ecosystems elsewhere in the world. An understanding of the significance of granite rock barrens was so incomplete that there was no research aimed at determining the effect of spraying bacillus thuringensis on the community as a whole, either prior to or during the spray program to control gypsy moth. This a lamentable situation considering current world commitments to the protection of biodiversity.
Research is essential with regards to potential influences such as the construction of dams and the limitations of on natural water level fluctuations, as well as spraying to control insects. Apart from the research essential to effectively manage barrens landscapes, there are promising opportunities involving evolution of specialized ecotypes, drought tolerance, environmental monitoring and comparison with better-studied nonglaciated sites further south.
The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources provided funds to conduct biological inventories and evaluations of several granite barrens in the past. These studies included T. Norris who supervised the studies. T. Scar of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and D. Lafontaine of Agriculture Canada provided information on the management of the barrens for blueberry production. S. Porebski of Agriculture Canada prepared the distribution map.
With an ambitious environmental team of field professionals and students in 2022, we aim to expand on the research to date while improving important knowledge of barrens and ecosystems.