Biodiversity in the City

Imagine a Toronto with flourishing natural habitats and an urban environment made safe for a great diversity of wildlife species. Envision a city whose residents treasure their daily encounters with the remarkable and inspiring world of nature, and the variety of plants and animals who share this world. Take pride in a Toronto that aspires to be a world leader in the development of urban initiatives that will be critical to the preservation of our flora and fauna.

A number of the non-human residents of Toronto will be profiled in booklets. It is hoped that despite the severe biodiversity loss due to massive urbanization, pollution, invasive species, habitat loss and climate change, the Biodiversity Booklet Series will help to re-connect people with the natural world, and raise awareness of the seriousness that biodiversity loss represents and how it affects them directly. The Series will help cultivate a sense of stewardship in residents; inform the City of the current state of local biodiversity and how current City policies, procedures and operations can be enhanced, altered or revised in order to help mitigate local biodiversity loss. The booklets will be available at your local City of Toronto Public Library branch and in pdf format (click on series title).

Biodiversity Booklet Series


Birds of Toronto: 2009

Birds have always been with us. By the time early humans began walking upright, birds had roamed the planet for millions of years. We evolved in a world teeming with birds, and it is no wonder they have permeated our culture. Enjoy this book on the birds of Toronto, and enhance your walk to work, your visit to the park or your stroll along the waterfront.

Butterflies of Toronto: 2011 (Revised 2015)

The exquisite orange, white and black markings of the Baltimore Checkerspot make this one of the most vibrant and beautiful butterflies to behold. It is found in wetland areas where its caterpillar host plant turtlehead occurs. This image captures the beauty of both the newly-emerged adult and chrysalis in all their glory.

Spiders of Toronto: 2012

A female jumping spider (Phiddipus clarus) lands on the edge of a milkweed leaf. Males defend females from rival males using a combination of visual and vibratory signals, and these interactions occasionally escalate into direct combat, and fights between females over refuges are even more intense.

Fishes of Toronto: 2012

A migrating Brown Trout attempts to jump a weir near the Old Mill Bridge, just north of Bloor Street. These weirs are barriers to fish migration and were modified (notched) to enable at least the larger jumping fish to migrate upstream to their spawning grounds. The removal of these migration barriers is a significant component of the restoration efforts being made to restore the extirpated (locally extinct) native Atlantic Salmon.

Mammals of Toronto: 2012

The Red Fox is an integral part of Toronto's wildlife community, occupying diverse habitats from the lakeshore to ravines and woodlots and even people's backyards on occasion. It is well adapted to live in the city.

Reptiles and Amphibians of Toronto: 2012 (Revised 2015)

A red eft (Notophthalmus viridescens) discovered in May 2009. The red eft is the second and only terrestrial life stage in the three-part post-hatching life cycle of the Red-spotted Newt (a type of salamander). The red eft develops from the aquatic larval stage and will become the aquatic adult after a few years of living on land. The bright red skin of these animals is a warning that they are toxic and that would-be predators should stay away.

Trees, Shrubs and Vines of Toronto: 2016

The "Urban Forest" refers to the population of trees, shrubs and other flora, along with their habitat, within the city's boundaries. This includes both the 'Urban Natural Areas' (ravines, woodlots and natural areas), and the 'Urban Landscape Features' (trees along city streets; trees in parks; trees in front and back yards; and trees in landscaped open spaces associated with private and public facilities, golf courses, cemeteries and local businesses.

In total, the Urban Forest is regarded as a shared resource that benefits the entire community.

Bees of Toronto: 2016

Bees are a very diverse group of organisms, with currently over 20 000 species in the world! There are many new species being discovered every year as scientists go on expeditions to remote areas in search of these flying insects. There are over 800 species in Canada, with roughly 300 in Southern Ontario.

Mushrooms of Toronto: 2016

The Kingdom of Fungi is, in some ways, like the great City of Toronto. It is vast in size, and made up of numerous and diverse inhabitants, but whereas the citizens of Toronto are primarily consumers who are fond of recycling, fungi are primarily recyclers who are fond of consumers. In the living world around us, fungi make up approximately 25% of the total biomass. They grow under water and on land. The air around us is filled with their spores.

Future issues could include: moths; dragonflies and damselflies; beetles; bees; wasps; ants; wildflowers; mosses and lichens; ferns and grasses; and possibly other taxonomic groups.



Birds of Toronto (Revised Edition):

A flock of Whimbrel viewed from Colonel Samuel Smith Park on 23 May 2007 frames the Toronto skyline. In a short stretch of May, literally thousands of Whimbrel migrate past Toronto each spring between their South American wintering grounds and their breeding grounds on the tundra coast of the Hudson Bay Lowlands.