The Science Behind Algonquin's Animals - Glossary

Acid Rain

Acid rain is rain, that is acidified in the atmosphere and can be damaging to the environment. Two common air pollutants acidify rain: sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOX). When these substances are released into the atmosphere, they can be carried over long distances by prevailing winds before returning to earth as acidic rain, snow, fog or dust. When the environment cannot neutralize the acid being deposited, damage occurs.


A linguistic term referring to a related family of languages spoken by dozens of distinct Native North American tribes.


An animal or plant growing or living in the water.

Black Spruce

The Black Spruce (Picea mariana) is the common conifer of bog habitats in Algonquin Park where it dominates the edges. Black Spruce has a very scraggly appearance, with small, short, drooping branches, small needles, and scaly gray bark. It does not grow as big as Red or White Pine but the Black Spruce gives a northern feel to Algonquin Park.

Boreal Forest

Predominantly coniferous, the boreal forest extends across Canada from Newfoundland to the Rocky Mountains and from the southern grasslands to the tundra. Characteristic species include White and Black spruce, Tamarack, Balsam Fir, and Jack Pine, with a mixture of broad-leaved trees such as aspen and poplar.

Canadian Shield

U-shaped region of very hard, ancient rock, composed mainly of granitic and gneissic rocks. It stretches from Newfoundland, southwest to the Great Lakes, and northwest to the Arctic Ocean. Covering more than half of Canada, it also includes most of Greenland and extends into the United States.


An animal that eats meat.


Dead and rotting animal flesh.


A long hanging, furry cluster of tiny leaves and petal-less flowers, produced by trees such as willows, birches, alders, and poplars.


When two or more organisms have the potential for using the same habitat or resources.


A tree that bears cones.


An animal with several pairs of jointed legs, a hard protective outer shell, two pairs of antennae, and eyes at the ends of stalks. Lobsters, crabs, shrimps, crayfish, waterfleas, barnacles, and woodlice are crustaceans.


A tree which sheds its leaves seasonally.


A loose fold of skin hanging from the neck of certain animals such as Moose; also called a bell.


Deoxyribonucleic acid, the molecule that contains the genetic information for an organism.


An animal that produces its own body heat internally; warm blooded.


An animal that relies on its environment as a source of heat; cold-blooded.

Fossmill Drainage

A large, glacial river that ran across the northern and eastern sections of present day Algonquin Park after the last glaciers melted back 11 000 years ago.

Frost-free Days

The time between the last spring frost and the first autumn frost.

Geographic Information System

A computer system for capturing, storing, checking, integrating, manipulating, analysing and displaying data related to positions on the earths surface. Typically, a Geographical Information System is used for handling maps. that might be represented as several different layers, where each layer holds data about a particular kind of feature. Each feature is linked to a position on the graphical image of a map.

Global Positioning System (GPS)

A space-based, radio-navigation system consisting of 24 satellites and ground support. GPS provides users with accurate information about their position and velocity, as well as the time, anywhere in the world.


A metamorphic rock, that may have been granite, that is an igneous rock; but heat and pressure have changed it.


Igneous rocks that were formed by slowly cooling pockets of magma that were trapped beneath the earth's surface.

Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Forest Region

Mixed coniferous and deciduous forests found in central Ontario and along the St. Lawrence River valley in Quebec. Characteristic species include White and Red Pine, and Eastern Hemlock. Associated broad-leaved species include maple, oak, basswood, aspen, ash, Yellow Birch and elm.


The food, water, shelter, and space required for the survival of a species.

Hard Mast

A term used to describe the hard-shelled fruits of plants such as the seeds of beech and oak. Hard mast is an especially important wildlife food in the fall and winter. It is high in fat content and is available when other plant foods (fleshy fruits and foliage) are not available.


An animal that eats plants.

Home Range

The area in which an animal travels during their normal activities.


A decrease in the core body temperature to a level at which normal muscular and cerebral functions are impaired.


The killing of young by the parent or sibling.


A small, six-legged, air-breathing animal that has well-defined segments, including a head, thorax, abdomen, two antennae, three pairs of legs, and often two sets of wings as an adult. There are more than a million species of insects named including flies, crickets, bees, beetles, butterflies and moths.


The portion of Algonquin Park not part of the Highway 60 corridor and only accessible by canoeing or hiking.


Any animal lacking a backbone. Invertebrates are by far the most numerous animals on Earth, both in sheer numbers and species. Nearly two million species have been identified to date. These two million species make up about 98 percent of all the animals identified in the entire animal kingdom.


The immature, often worm-like stage, between egg and pupa of an insect with complete metamorphosis.

Mean Temperature

The normal temperature over a given period of time as calculated from the mean of all days sampled. It is often given as a mean high or low temperature for a given month.


The periodic movement of animals from one area to another as a natural part of their life.


An invertebrate with a soft, unsegmented body, usually protected by a shell in one, two, or three pieces. The mollusks include clams, snails, slugs, squid, and octopuses. Most mollusks are aquatic.


Molting is the normal process by which a bird replaces its feathers. Broken and worn feathers cannot be repaired so a bird will systematically drop feathers and replace them with new ones. Most birds molt annually, though there is some difference between species. Frequency of molt can also be affected by age, seasonal changes, hours of daylight and breeding activity. Though there is some difference between species, most birds drop a few feathers at a time and then grow replacement feathers using the same feather follicle. This process allows the bird to maintain their ability to fly during the molt. Even so, the process is taxing and most species become subdued and a bit lethargic.

Morphoedaphic Index

A measure of lake productivity that is calculated as total dissolved solids divided by mean depth.


An animal that eats both plants and animals.


A particle of calcium carbonate found in the inner ear of vertebrates and involved in sensory perception.


An animal that feeds in or on the body of another animal during part of its life cycle. Typically a parasite does not kill its host.

pH (potential Hydrogen)

A measurement of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution with 1 being extremely acidic, 14 being extremely alkaline, and 7 being neutral. Normal rain has a pH of 5.6.

Pine Slash

Woody debris left behind by loggers after squaring Red and White Pine.


The total number of an individual species inhabiting a specified area, such as a park, lake, province, or country, at a given time.

Precambrian Era

The oldest major division of geologic time from approximately five billion to 570 million years ago. Precambrian time includes 80% of the earth's history.


An animal that kills and eats other animals.


A tooth often having two cusps or points, located between the incisors and the molars that is used for grinding and chewing.


Animals that are killed and eaten by other animals.

Roto Tag

A numbered, plastic tag affixed to the ear of an animal for identification purposes.


The mating season of Moose. During mating season bull Moose dig rutting pits in the ground with their hooves, urinate in the pit, and then roll in the urine to cover themselves with this natural 'perfume' in order to help attract cow Moose.


A net that is weighted so that it hangs vertically in the water. Its ends are then hauled together to form a trap like a large bag.

Soft Mast

Seeds that are covered with fleshy fruit, as in apples and berries.


A group of individuals that are capable of breeding and producing fertile offspring under natural conditions.


A predatory animal, with four pairs of legs, two body segments and two or more abdominal organs (spinnerets) used for spinning webs that serve as nests and traps for prey.

Temperature dependent sex determination (TDSD)

A process in which the sex of a developing embryo is determined by temperature instead of chromosomes. Common in turtles and a few other reptiles.


Living or growing on land rather than in the water or air.


"Ownership" or dominance over an area defended against others of the same and occasionally similar species, used for feeding, breeding, or both.

Threshold Temperature

A point above or below a defined temperature that produces a certain sex in animals with temperature dependent sex determination (TDSD). Painted Turtles have two threshold temperatures for sex determination; 22 and 27 degrees Celsius. Above and below these temperatures predominately females are produced. Between these temperatures predominately males are produced.


A line on the ground along which sample plots or points are established for collecting data.


An animal with a backbone, or spinal column, made of interlocking units called vertebrae. This strong but flexible structure supports the body and anchors the limbs, and it also protects the nerves of the spinal cord. Vertebrates include fish, amphibians, and reptiles, as well as birds and mammals. In all vertebrates, the spinal column forms part of a complete internal skeleton. Unlike the hard external skeleton covering an insect, which is periodically shed as the insect grows, a vertebrate's internal skeleton can grow gradually along with the rest of the body. Vertebrates only make up less than 2 percent of all animal species.

Vulva Patch

A white patch of hair below the tail of female Moose. Often used to identify female Moose during aerial surveys as males lack this patch.

White Sucker

A species of fish (Catostomus commersoni) found in Algonquin Park that has a specialized mouth for eating small insect larvae and other bottom dwelling organisms from the bottom of lakes and rivers.

Wilderness Zone

Totalling 12% of Algonquin Park, Wilderness Zones preserve some of southern Ontario's most ecologically intact landscapes in as natural a state as possible. Roads, logging, motorized travel, and other forms of human interference are banned in this zone.


Describes the community of floating, often microscopic, animals that inhabit aquatic environments. Being near the base of the food chain, they serve as food for larger animals, such as fish. One litre of water can contain more than 125 000 zooplankton.

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