For the purpose of this blog and its associated web pages, the Buffalo-Niagara Region is defined as the Great Lakes Plain ecozone north of the Portage Escarpment, including all of Niagara County and 17 towns/cities in northern Erie County (from Hamburg, Orchard Park, East Aurora, and Marilla north to the Niagara County line). Also included, due to the presence of significant natural habitats on publicly accessible lands, are the Beaver Meadow Audubon Preserve (in the adjoining Town of Java in Wyoming County) and Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge/Tonawanda and Oak Orchard Wildlife Management Areas (mostly in the adjoining Towns of Alabama and Shelby as well as Oakfield in Genesee and Orleans Counties).
Insert map showing the region
While the Buffalo-Niagara Region is the most heavily populated area of Western New York State, it nevertheless offers an abundance and diversity of plant and animal life (e.g., about 2,000 species of vascular plants, 115 species of fish, and 350 species of birds). Moreover, there are nearly 300 publicly accessible sites where one can focus nature explorations – please see the dropdown lists of sites on “B-N Region & Sites” tab on this web site.
Elevations in the Buffalo-Niagara Region generally range from about 275 feet above sea level (ASL) along the southern Lake Ontario shore, to about 600 feet ASL in Buffalo and its associated suburbs, and up to about 950 feet ASL in East Aurora and southeastern Marilla. Despite the considerable variability in elevation, there is a fairly consistent climate across the Great Lakes Plain ecozone. Thus, plants and animals follow fairly consistent activity patterns across the region. Of course, there is some variation in the timing of plant and animal activities across the region, based on elevation as well as site-specific features (e.g., north- versus south-facing slopes, heavily shaded versus sunlit areas, snow belts versus areas outside the belts). However, that variation extends only about one week across the region, and the activity patterns follow the same basic sequence no matter where you look in the region.