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Pelee Island Archipelago (ON014)

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Pelee Island Archipelago (ON014)

Western Lake Erie Basin, Ontario

Latitude 41.782°N
Longitude 82.828°W
Altitude 175 - 180m
Area 24.16km²

Site Description

The Pelee Archipelago is a series of limestone islands, in the western basin of Lake Erie. In the Canadian portion of the basin, the archipelago consists of six islands: Middle Sister, North Harbour, East Sister, Big Chicken, Hen, and Middle. Pelee Island, the largest in the archipelago, is not included in this IBA; specific sites on Pelee Island have been identified separately as IBAs.

All of the islands have a base of limestone bedrock and rocky shores. Middle Island, Middle Sister Island, and East Sister Island (the largest islands in the archipelago) have predominantly wooded interiors with forests of Hackberry and Black Maple. Middle Sister Island is probably the most natural and undisturbed of the islands in the archipelago. Over 40 nationally rare plant species have been record, and several of the plant communities have been identified as nationally significant (e.g., mature hackberry forest, hop tree dominated scrub community with blue ash). In addition, the entire population of the nationally endangered Lake Erie Water Snake is restricted to the archipelago.

Birds

The Pelee Island Archipelago supports one of the richest assemblages of nesting colonial birds in Lake Erie. At least 5 species are present in numbers of national significance, including more than 1% of the estimated northeast North American Double-crested Cormorant population, and greater than 1% of the estimated North American Herring Gull population. In particular, the heronry on East Sister Island, is significant with combined estimate of about 500 pairs of Great Blue Herons, Black-crowned Night-Herons and Great Egrets. It is one of the largest heronries in Canada, and the supports the largest population of nesting Great Egrets in Canada.

The islands in the archipelago are also thought to be significant as migratory bird stop-overs. Although detailed studies have not been completed, many have reported large concentrations of songbirds during spring migration. Given the location of the islands, it is likely that large numbers of migrants make use of them.

Conservation Issues

In general, the Pelee Island Archipelago is relatively well protected through its inaccessible location in the middle of western Lake Erie Basin. The potential for disturbance from recreational boaters exists and could be a serious threat if large numbers of people land on the island (e.g., for picnics on July 1st and 4th weekends). One of the Islands, East Sister, was purchased as a Provincial Nature Reserve in 1972. The Canadian Wildlife Service is involved in an on-going program to monitor the colonial waterbird populations on the archipelago. The Nature Conservancy of Canada and its partners purchased Middle Island in 1999, with Point Pelee National Park administering it.

IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status
Great Blue Heron
Number Year Season
5001997Summer
5741991Summer
1,0401988Summer
1,8501983Summer
8001981Summer
1,0001980Summer
Herring Gull
Number Year Season
5,0001997Summer
7,6441990Summer
1,9841981Summer
8761977Summer
8761976Summer
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Number Year Season
4001997Summer
1,8501983Summer
1,0001980Summer
Double-crested Cormorant
Number Year Season
14,8621997Summer
3,9041990Summer
2,1701988Summer
1141977Summer
1141976Summer