Continuity and Change in B.C.’s Natural History

by Lindsay Epp

In the process of studying events in history, it is tempting to view them as disconnected or isolated. In reality continuity and patterns of change flow through all of history – the natural history of this province is no exception. It is important to think critically about B.C.’s past and present, so that we can create a better future!

Earth is heating up, but why?
Global warming is a very real threat to the environment. Dramatic temperature changes have happened naturally in the past (for example, the Ice Age) but these changes occurred over thousands of years. The warming we are experiencing now has happened drastically in the past few decades. National Geographic offers many resources to learn more.

Preserving Garry Oak Ecosystems
Garry Oak Ecosystems have declined to 5% of their pre-contact size. These ecosystems are home to an amazing diversity of life. However, as the ecosystem has been depleted, the native species have suffered. Remaining Garry Oak Ecosystems are home to over 100 species at risk. Click below to learn more about this delicate system.

Oldest and Oddest
3In 3 playlists
Some of the oldest fossils in the Royal BC Museum collection are some of the oddest looking too. Learn about the strange forms of early life on Earth.
View Pathway

Dawson’s Caribou
1In 1 playlists
The Dawson's Caribou is one of many species that roamed British Columbia in the past but is now extinct (and likely has been since 1935). Read more about the Dawson's Caribou here.

Alien Invaders
2In 2 playlists
No, not that kind of alien. Alien species are plants and animals that are foreign to an ecosystem, usually brought by humans whether intentionally or unintentionally. Alien species affect the balance of the ecosystem and can be harmful to the lifestyle of native species. Scotch Broom (pictured) is an example of an alien species in B.C.

The Warmer the Better?
1In 1 playlists
Some species, such as magpies, gopher snakes, badgers, and black widows, will become more common in B.C. as temperatures rise and they are able to move further north. What effects might there be on existing species when these roaming species spread into their habitat?  (Image credit: Jerry Kirkhart) 

White Sturgeon
1In 1 playlists
White sturgeon used to be plentiful in the Fraser River Delta. Now, due to over-fishing and local industrial projects, the white sturgeon population is declining. 

Forests of the Coast
1In 1 playlists
When walking through the Forests of the Coast exhibit, try to imagine what these forests might look like in the future. Will our forests be the same in 50 years? 100 years? 

Dry Summers Invite Wildfires
Interior B.C. has had its fair share of wildfires in past years, and with the temperatures rising and forests drying out, wildfire risk has only increased. This particular photo was taken in 2012 near Peachland. (Photo: Jeff Basset, Canadian Press) 

British Columbia’s Changing Landscape – Trailhead Tour Guide
Students who participate in this program will explore the Natural History Gallery of the museum through the lens of change. Students will be encouraged to ask questions and think critically about how British Columbia has changed over the years and what our province's future will look like.