Browse "Nature & Geography"

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Soil is the thin, fragile surface layer of Earth. It is a dynamic, loose and porous body of variable thickness (between a few centimetres and a few metres). Soil is formed by continuous transformations of rock or deposit through physical, chemical and biological processes. It is one of the two main components of Earth — the other being oceans — in which life is particularly active. Soil is the source and site of many human activities, and human life greatly depends on it. In Canada, agricultural, environmental and natural-resource scientists are at the forefront of research on soil.


Soil Classification

Classification involves arranging individual units with similar characteristics into groups. Soils do not occur as discrete entities; thus the unit of measurement for soil is not obvious.


Soil Conservation

Soil conservation is a combination of all methods of management and land use that safeguard the soil against depletion or deterioration by natural or human-induced factors.


Soil Science

Soil science is the science that deals with soils as a natural resource. Studies focus on soil formation, classification and mapping, and the physical, chemical and biological properties and fertility of soils as such and in relation to their management for crop production.


Solar Energy

The energy contained in sunlight is the source of life on Earth. Humans can harness it to generate power for our activities without producing harmful pollutants. There are many methods of converting solar energy into more readily usable forms of energy such as heat or electricity. The technologies we use to convert solar energy have a relatively small impact on the environment. However, they each have disadvantages that have kept them from being widely adopted.

In Canada, the use of solar energy to generate electricity and heat is growing quickly and is helping reduce pollution related to energy production. Despite Canada’s cold climate and high latitudes (which get less direct sunlight than mid-latitudes), solar power technologies are used in many places, from household rooftops to large power plants. The Canada Energy Regulator (formerly the National Energy Board) expects solar power to make up 3 per cent of Canada’s total electricity generation capacity by 2040.


Solomon's Seal

Solomon's seal (genus Polygonatum) is a herbaceous plant of lily family (Liliaceae). About 50 species occur in the Northern Hemisphere.



Soybean (Glycine max) is a herbaceous annual belonging to the legume family, grown as an oilseed crop in Canada.



Sparrow is the name given to several unrelated groups of birds. Sparrows are classified in 3 families: Emberizidae, Estrildidae, and Passeridae.


Sperm Scare

During the mid-1970s, a Canadian Wildlife Service researcher discovered that birds in Lake Ontario were behaving in a bizarre way: unable to find mates, pairs of female herring gulls were nesting together and devotedly tending clutches of eggs that usually turned out to be infertile.



A spider is a carnivorous arthropod (segmented, jointed-limbed animal) of the class Arachnida, order Araneae.



Spinach (Spinacia oleracea), is a leafy, cool-season vegetable that belongs to the Chenopodiaceae family.



Spiraea is a genus of small shrubs of the family Rosaceae (rose). The genus consists of some 70-80 species, as well as many horticultural varieties of garden origin that have resulted from hybridization. Probably the most noteworthy of these hybrids is S.


Spirit Bear

Spirit bears are rare white-coated black bears (Ursus americanus kermodei) that live in the coastal temperate rainforests of Northwest British Columbia. Their striking colour is caused by an uncommon recessive genetic trait. Spirit bears are not a unique species or subspecies, but a unique colouration of the coastal British Columbian black bear subspecies kermodei. Referred to as moksgm’ol, meaning “white bear,” by Tsimshian coastal First Nations, spirit bears play an important role in local culture and increasingly in Indigenous-led ecotourism.



Sponge (Porifera), phylum of bottom-dwelling, attached, aquatic organisms which, as adults, generate vigorous water currents through their porous bodies by action of internal fields of microscopic flagella (whiplike structures).



A spring is a point of natural, concentrated groundwater discharge from soil or rock.



Spruce is an evergreen conifer (genus Picea) of the pine family (Pinaceae). About 40 species occur worldwide, in circumpolar distribution in the Northern Hemisphere; 5 are native to Canada.



Squash (genus Cucurbita) is an annual plant belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family and native to the Americas.



Squid are decapods ("10-footed") molluscs of class Cephalopoda. Squid are usually of the order Teuthoidea).



 Squirrel, common name for family (Sciuridae) of rodents, comprising 262 species, found in North and South America, Eurasia and Africa.