Grassland

The heath plants and their community are the last stage of natural ecological change on Sable Island.

Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History

© Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History 2001 All Rights Reserved.


The Island’s narrow interior lies between two long ridges of stabilized sand dunes. The dunes give enough shelter for a thick green carpet of plants, mostly grasses with scattered areas of heath. Even here, trees cannot survive. The heath plants and their community are the last stage of natural ecological change on Sable Island.
The Island’s narrow interior lies between two long ridges of stabilized sand dunes. The dunes give enough shelter for a thick green carpet of plants, mostly grasses with scattered areas of heath. Even here, trees cannot survive. The heath plants and their community are the last stage of natural ecological change on Sable Island.

© Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History 2001 All Rights Reserved.

Grasslands

The grassland plants are mostly Marram, with some Beach Pea plus a variety of other grasses, low plants and shrubs.

Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History

© Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History 2001 All Rights Reserved.


The grassland plants are mostly Marram, with some Beach Pea plus a variety of other grasses, low plants and shrubs.

The grassland plants are mostly Marram, with some Beach Pea plus a variety of other grasses, low plants and shrubs.

© Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History 2001 All Rights Reserved.

Dung Beetles - Onthophagus nuchicornis

Even the dung becomes a habitat and a food source for Dung Beetles.

Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History

© Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History 2001 All Rights Reserved.


Horses graze on the plants and horse dung returns nutrients to the soil. Even the dung becomes a habitat and a food source for Dung Beetles.
Horses graze on the plants and horse dung returns nutrients to the soil. Even the dung becomes a habitat and a food source for Dung Beetles.

© Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History 2001 All Rights Reserved.

Wild Rose

Wild Rose - Rosa rugosa

Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History
Sable Island Preservation Trust, Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic,

© Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History 2001 All Rights Reserved.


Even in the sheltered grasslands, Sable's strong winds are a powerful force preventing plants from growing tall. Some common bushy plants such as Wild Rose grow here in dwarfed forms.

Leaf-cutting Bees eat the rose pollen and line their sand burrows with oval plates cut from rose leaves.

Land Snail shells are thin on Sable, due to lack of calcium in the soil.



Even in the sheltered grasslands, Sable's strong winds are a powerful force preventing plants from growing tall. Some common bushy plants such as Wild Rose grow here in dwarfed forms.

Leaf-cutting Bees eat the rose pollen and line their sand burrows with oval plates cut from rose leaves.

Land Snail shells are thin on Sable, due to lack of calcium in the soil.



© Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History 2001 All Rights Reserved.

Caterpillar

The caterpillars of Sphinx Moths feed on Bayberry leaves.

Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History

© Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History 2001 All Rights Reserved.


Sphinx Moth

The caterpillars of Sphinx Moths feed on Bayberry leaves.

Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History

© Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History 2001 All Rights Reserved.


Cranberry - Vaccinium macrocarpon

Heath plants such as Juniper, Bayberry, Crowberry, Blueberry and Cranberry thrive.

Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History

© Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History 2001 All Rights Reserved.


Despite the salt spray, Sable Island’s soils are not salty. Rain washes the salt away, leaving the soil slightly acidic. Heath plants such as Juniper, Bayberry, Crowberry, Blueberry and Cranberry thrive. The caterpillars of Sphinx Moths feed on Bayberry leaves.
Despite the salt spray, Sable Island’s soils are not salty. Rain washes the salt away, leaving the soil slightly acidic. Heath plants such as Juniper, Bayberry, Crowberry, Blueberry and Cranberry thrive. The caterpillars of Sphinx Moths feed on Bayberry leaves.

© Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History 2001 All Rights Reserved.

Pine - Pinus sylvestris

This tiny pine was planted more than 30 years ago.

Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History

© Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History 2001 All Rights Reserved.


There are no native trees on Sable Island. This tiny pine was planted more than 30 years ago.


There are no native trees on Sable Island. This tiny pine was planted more than 30 years ago.


© Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History 2001 All Rights Reserved.

Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Describe the effect of wind, poor nutrition, and acid soil on plant and animal life on Sable Island.
  • Describe the heath and grasslands habitat and the plants that survive in the environment.

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