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Short Eared Owl and Purple Loosestrife: Extinction and Invasion of Species

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I am researching about two species in Ontario, one is a native species that is at risk and the other one is a non native species that is invasive. I will be exploring the factors that caused the species to be extinct and how the factors influence the species. The species are called short eared owl and purple loosestrife. The purple loosestrife is invasive causing environmental damage while the short eared owl is threatened due to many factors.

The species I will be researching on is about a native bird species called “Short eared owl” or in scientific terms “Asio flammeus”. It is Latin for “horned owl” (Asio) and “fiery” or “flaming” (flammeus). This animal has a large, round head, with small pieces of feathers that look like ears. The owl is about 34 to 42 centimetres long, with long wings and a short tail. Adults are coloured to blend in with their surroundings and have a brown back and creamy-buff chest with brown streaks. Males and females are similar in appearance, but females are slightly larger and tend to be darker. This animal lives in open areas like a grasslands, savannas, marshes and tundra. It nests on the ground and hunts for small mammals, especially voles. The short eared owl are common and widespread in southern Ontario it lives in areas ranging at the extended border tundra south to the central United States. It is also found along James Bay and Hudson Bay coastlines. The status of this bird is threatened since it is at risk being endangered. This animal is being threatened by the clearing of forests for farmland and habitat loss from agriculture, livestock grazing, recreation, and development. The owl require large uninterrupted of open grasslands but as agricultural methods had become more intensive with the mowing of fields during the nesting season and overgrazing by livestock, these areas became unsuitable for this owl this is the major cause of population declines.

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The other species I will be researching on is a non native plant and it invasive species in Canada. It is called purple Loosestrife or spiked loosestrife. In scientific terms the plant is called “Lythrum salicaria”. This plant comes from the family Lythraceae. This plant can produce 30 to 50 erect stems. It has five to seven pink-purple petals about 10 millimetres long, arranged on long flower spikes at the top of stems. This plant is a wetland plant native to Eurasia, Asia and most of central and northern Europe. It was first introduced when it was brought to North America in the early 1800s, the seeds were included in soil used as ballast in European sailing ships. The purple loosestrife has spread rapidly across North American wetlands, shorelines and roadside ditches due to reducing nutrients and space for native plants and degrade habitat for wildlife, its has the ability to produce as many as two million seeds in a growing season. Because of the plants growth it changes the ecosystem function such as reductions in nesting sites, shelter and food for birds, fish and wildlife, as well as an overall decline in biodiversity. The environmental damages that this plant has caused are have replaced 50% of the native species.This plant decreases the amount of water stored and filtered in the wetland that causes habitat loss. In 1992, the Canadian and American governments approved together to release of two European leaf-eating beetles, Galerucella calmariensis and G. pusilla (european leaf eating beetle). The beatles are natural enemies of purple loosestrife and feed on the plant. This biological control of purple loosestrife can reduce populations by up to 90 per cent and allow native plants to re-establish. The beatles were widely released in Ontario, and purple loosestrife populations at have been significantly reduced.

Both of these species have a negative impact on environment. The short eared owl is becoming extinct that causes overpopulation of mice and smalls mammals because the owls are not eating them, since there are a few owls. The purple loosestrife is causing habitat loss for other animals. There are no benefits to these actions. These two species have their differences in many ways.

In conclusion, the purple loosestrife is invasive causing environmental damage by using up all the water in the wetlands for its growth. That causes habitat loss for other animals because the wetland in drained. The short eared owl is threatened because of urbanization that causes habitat loss to the owl since owls need a huge amount of space for its nesting. It is great that the government is taking actions for these species but the reality of this world growing causes more room for people. Human activities have a huge impact on the environment, even one thing we do to animals haves a huge impact on the food chain while one species population grows fast while other animals are disappearing.

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