The Montreal Biodome recreates five ecosystems of the Americas to show visitors the true nature of the continent. The indoor ecosystem environment is the first in the world and still represents the most comprehensive approach to natural environments and ecology nationally.
The Biodome, which means house of life, was opened in 1992 as the first indoor ecosystem in the world. A feasibility study was conducted in 1988 and within a year teams were hired and the official announcement was made that the project was underway. Construction began in 1989 and plants and animals were introduced to their environments in 1991-1992 with the official opening happening on June 18th, 1992. Two years later in 1994, the Biodome was accepted into the Species Survival Plan program that is managed by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association. The Biodome has participated in breeding monkeys from the Amazon and parakeets and macaws from Brazil.
Collections and Exhibits
The Biodome is home to more than 4,500 animals that represent 220 species. There are also 500 plants species that make the manmade ecosystems a veritable laboratory where researchers can study the relationships between terrestrial and aquatic plants and animals within their environments.
The ecosystems at the Biodome include:
Tropical Rainforest- The tropical rainforest ecosystem is home to more than ½ of the animal and plant species in the world. The rainforest at the Biodome is a recreation of a South American tropical rainforest like the Amazon and is the largest ecosystem in the dome. Temperature in the tropical rainforest is kept warm with a 70% humidity. Flora is exhibited in various states of growth and visitors can see hundreds of fish such as piranha, amphibians, frogs, reptiles and hundreds of birds. There are also many mammals represented including the capybara, tamarins, and sloths. Four species of bats also call the rainforest home at the Biodome.
Laurentian Maple Forest- This northern ecosystem is a mix of deciduous and coniferous forest that represents North American and Asian climates. Temperature in the Maple Forest is consistent with the changes in temperature one would find outside of the biodome with leaves that change colors and fall, changes in light, and plants that will go dormant in the winter time. Some of the trees living in the Laurentian Maple Forest include sugar maples, white birches, white spruces, and other conifers. Bulbs flowers bloom in the spring and animals that are typically seen in forest environments including otters, lynx, porcupines, and dozens of fish species.
Gulf of St. Lawrence- A salt water estuary teems with life at the Biodome where the chilly waters of the St Lawrence Estuary are recreated in the Biodome. This habitat is aquatic with 2.2 million liters of salt water that is produced on site inside the dome. There is an underwater observatory where visitors can watch hundreds of fish, plankton, starfish, sea cucumbers, urchins, and crabs. There are also bird nests above water on the estuary land habitats that are home to kittewakes, common eiders and more. This exhibit is kept mild at around 60 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer and the upper 50’s in the winter.
Labrador Coast- The subarctic landscape of the Labrador Coast is showcased in this rocky ecosystem with steep cliffs. The temperature is kept consistently around 55 degrees Fahrenheit. There is no natural vegetation in this habitat that is home to more than 60 alcids including murres, black guillemots and puffins.
Sub-Antarctic Islands- The Sub-Antarctic ecosystem located to the south of South America recreates the volcanic islands of the Antarctic region and features large basalt rock formations with the daylight hours matching the natural cycle of the region and temperatures kept just above freezing. All wildlife in this ecosystem come from the Spheniscidae family with four species of penguin on view.
Naturalia Room- This room is used as an interpretive learning space where students and visitors can learn more about how plants and animals work in harmony with each other in the Biodome ecosystem. The room is divided into 5 different exhibit spaces including habitat adaptation, weather, animal migration, animal senses, defensive adaptations, and what the animals in the ecosystems eat. Students are encouraged to touch and interact with the exhibits and displays and nature interpreters are available to work with school groups through the educational programming offered at the Biodome.
Educational Opportunities and Special Events
The Biodome offers a wide range of lectures, programs, camps, workshops, and daily activities that help students and families interpret their environments and the world around them. Photography classes, animal tracking, and special explorations through the biodome are also offered. Behind the scenes guided tours are offered as well as educator lead special programs. To learn more about the rotating offerings of educational programming or how educators can plan field trips to the Biodome, visit the Montreal Biodome website where the calendar of events is loaded with details and registration information.
4777, avenue Pierre-De Coubertin, Montréal Quebec H1V 1B3, Canada, Phone: 514-868-3000