4 Ecosystem Scavenger Hunt

Our friends at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre put together this wonderful 4 Ecosystem Scavenger Hunt!

While walking down the trails in the Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary, see if you can identify which ecosystem you are in, and then look for the items listed in that ecosystem. How many items can you find while you explore?

Here are some hints to help you identify which ecosystem you are in:


You can often tell you’re near a wetland when you can see water! Wetlands are exactly that: wet land. They form in low lying areas, like at the bottom of a hill. Wetlands are great places for rain to collect which helps protect other areas from flooding. Wetlands even clean toxins out water collected from runoff. At a wetland, you might be able to see redwing black birds and fuzzy cattails!

Deciduous Forest

Deciduous forests mostly have trees with leaves. Their leaves fall off in autumn since there isn’t enough light in winter to photosynthesize. Instead, they’ll live off the energy they stored up in their roots. In these forests, look for the papery bark of a white birch tree and listen to the leaves of a trembling aspen as they rustle.

Coniferous Forest

Coniferous forests mostly have trees with needles. These needles will stay on the tree all year round – even in winter! Coniferous trees have a special chemical inside their sap called “terpenes”, which is what gives them that distinctive smell. In these forests, keep an eye out for falling pinecones and curious squirrels!


Grasslands have lots of long grasses and shrubs but almost no trees. Animals graze on the grasses and wildfires clear dead plants away to help keep this ecosystem healthy. In southern Alberta, grasslands are home to swift foxes – one of Alberta’s Endangered animals. When you visit grasslands, keep your eyes open for ground squirrels (or prairie dogs in southern Alberta) popping up to say hello!