From our Experts

Photo : © Mario Francoeur

From our Experts

Humans are not the Only Ones that Must Adapt to Winter

News - Intro image

What do Mount Royal’s fauna and flora do to survive the cold and snow? Ariane Bernier, Environmental Conservation Patrol Lead at Les Amis de la montagne, gives us a few examples of the strategies our mountain’s plants and wildlife use to make sure they can get through the winter.

Mount Royal’s biodiversity is reflected in the richness of its ecosystems and species, which must adapt to the four seasons every year. In the winter, the fauna and flora that live on our iconic mountain have a number of strategies to help them adapt to the intense cold and scarcity of resources. Can you name a few?

Some animals remain active all winter and adapt to the reduction in resources by hiding food in the ground or in the bark of trees so that they can find it later. Others, like certain small mammal species, dig networks of tunnels under the snow and use them to find and store food, shelter from the cold and hide from predators. Still others go into hibernation or dormancy for the entire season. Some species of birds spend the summer in our woodlands but as fall approaches, they fly south to where the weather is warmer and food more abundant. Snakes, which are cold-blooded, seek out isolated spaces like crevices between rocks, fallen tree trunks or stumps, and abandoned burrows or dens, where they crowd in together to share warmth.

Some of Mount Royal’s plants are designated as being vulnerable to harvesting. These species are often characterized by their slow growth and low rate of reproduction. In winter, the fragile rhizomes of these perennials hide beneath the snow and wait for the return of spring to produce and display their delicate, short-lived flowers above ground.

The roots of the yellow trout lily begin to grow in early fall and continue to grow throughout a long winter phase. As spring arrives, they spread out rapidly, taking advantage of the water from the melting snow. These plants require a lot of sunlight and flower in early spring, before the trees come into leaf. This early-blooming species depends on pollinators to help it survive when resources are low.

It goes without saying that we all must do our utmost to protect these species, fragile ecosystems and microhabitats by adopting environmentally responsible behaviours like staying on designated trails, picking up after ourselves and keeping our dogs leashed. The mountain will thank us for it! 

Photo : S. Montigné


Let's Be Friends

Stay on top of Mount Royal news and activities with our newsletter