Warning This Web page has been archived on the Web.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived on the Web is for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It has not been altered or updated after the date of archiving. Web pages that are archived on the Web are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards, as per the Policy on Communications and Federal Identity.

Management Plan for the Victorin’s Water-hemlock (Cicuta maculate var. victorinii) in Canada [PROPOSED] - 2011

Species at Risk Act
Management Plan Series

Table of Contents

Document Information

Top of Page


Document Information

Victorin’s Water-hemlock (Cicuta maculate var. victorinii)

Photo: Victorin’s Water-hemlock

Recommended citation:

Environment Canada. 2011. Management Plan for Victorin’s Water-hemlock (Cicuta maculata var. victorinii) in Canada [Proposed]. Species at Risk Act Management Plan Series. Environment Canada, Ottawa, iv + 22 pp.

For copies of the management plan, or for additional information on species at risk, including COSEWIC Status Reports, residence descriptions, action plans, and other related recovery documents, please visit the Species at Risk Public Registry.

Cover illustration: © Isabelle Parent, Ducks Unlimited Canada

Également disponible en français sous le titre
« Plan de gestion de la cicutaire de Victorin (Cicuta maculata var. victorinii) au Canada [Proposition] »

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of the Environment, 2011. All rights reserved.
ISBN
Catalogue No.

Content (excluding the illustrations) may be used without permission, with appropriate credit to the source.

Top of Page


Preface

The federal, provincial, and territorial government signatories under the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk (1996) agreed to establish complementary legislation and programs that provide for effective protection of species at risk throughout Canada. Under the Species at Risk Act (S.C. 2002, c.29) (SARA), the federal competent ministers are responsible for the preparation of recovery strategies for listed Extirpated, Endangered, and Threatened species and are required to report on progress within five years.

The Minister of the Environment and the Minister responsible for the Parks Canada Agency are the competent ministers for the conservation of the Victorin’s Water-hemlock, which is listed as a species of special concern in Schedule 1 of SARA. This management plan was developed in accordance with section 65 of SARA in cooperation with the Government of Quebec (Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs (MDDEP), under subsection 66(1) of SARA.

Success in the conservation of this species cannot be achieved by Environment Canada, Parks Canada Agency or any other jurisdiction alone; it depends on the commitment and cooperation of many interested parties that will be involved in implementing the recommendations set out in this management plan. All Canadians are invited to support the management plan and to contribute to its implementation in the interest of Victorin’s Water-hemlock and Canadian society as a whole. Implementation of the plan is subject to the appropriations, priorities, and budgetary constraints of the participating jurisdictions and organizations.

Top of Page

Acknowledgments

The first draft of this document was written by Frédéric Coursol (botanist) and reviewed for content by Benoît Jobin and Vincent Carignan (Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service – Quebec Region). The draft was also commented on by the members of the recovery team for threatened vegetation of the St. Lawrence freshwater estuary (Pierre Morisset, chair [consultant], Frédéric Coursol, Patricia Désilets [Ministère du Dévéloppement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs, MDDEP], Hélène Gilbert [Bureau d’Écologie Appliquée], Benoît Jobin, Nicole Lavoie [Fondation Québécoise pour la Protection du Patrimoine Naturel], Isabelle Parent [Ducks Unlimited Canada], Hubert Pelletier [Nature Conservancy of Canada – Quebec Region] and Benoît Roberge [Parks Canada Agency]). Thanks go to Alain Branchaud, Karine Picard and Matthew Wild (Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service – Quebec Region), Vanessa Dufresne (Association des Amis du Cap Tourmente), Michèle Dupont-Hébert (Fondation Québécoise pour la Protection du Patrimoine Naturel), Guy Jolicoeur (MDDEP), Martine Lapointe (Université Laval/FloraQuebeca), and Sylvain Paradis (Parks Canada Agency). Jacques Labrecque (MDDEP) provided recent data on Victorin’s Water-hemlock.

Top of Page

Executive Summary

Victorin’s Water-hemlock (Cicuta maculata var. victorinii) is a perennial herbaceous plant measuring 0.5 to 2 metres tall. It is endemic to the freshwater upper estuary of the St. Lawrence, where it occurs only in the freshwater or slightly brackish intertidal zones. It was assessed as a species of special concern in Canada by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) in May 2004 and was added to Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act in July 2005.

To date, Victorin’s Water-hemlock is known from 45 occurrences[1] along the St. Lawrence River between the municipalities of Batiscan in the southwestern part of its range and Saint-Jean-Port-Joli (south shore) and Saint-Joachim (north shore) in the northeastern part. Three of these occurrences have not been observed for over 25 years, two have been extirpated and one is questionable. Habitat loss by shoreline in-filling and infrastructure construction is the most serious threat to Victorin’s Water-hemlock. Trampling, invasive plants and shoreline mowing also pose a threat to the species.

The management objective has two distinct time frames. In the long term, the objective is to maintain and, if possible, increase the population size and area of occupancy of Victorin’s Water-hemlock throughout its range in Quebec. In the short term, the objective is to maintain and, if possible, increase the species’population size and area of occupancy for each of the 18 occurrences identified as priorities.

The broad management strategies for Victorin’s Water-hemlock are to ensure the conservation and management of occurrences, to reduce the main threats to the species and its habitat, and to increase knowledge of the species’ demographics, biology and taxonomy. The implementation activities and schedule associated with these strategies are presented in this management plan.

Top of Page

1. COSEWIC Species Assessment Information

Date of Assessment: May 2004

Common Name: Victorin’s Water-hemlock

Scientific Name: Cicuta maculata var. victorinii

COSEWIC Status: Special Concern
 
Reason for Designation: A geographically highly restricted perennial that is endemic to the freshwater or slightly brackish shoreline areas of the St. Lawrence River estuary in Quebec. It is present at about 33 localities but in very small localized habitats where it is at risk from a wide range of impacts. These impacts include: actual destruction of plants due to ATV traffic and human trampling, and mowing of shoreline vegetation; losses of suitable potential shoreline habitat also occurs through shoreline in-filling and development and potential loss of plants may occur due to confusion with the common variant of the species that is considered a noxious weed. Oil spills may also pose a potential risk.

Canadian Occurrence: Quebec

COSEWIC Status History: Designated Special Concern in April 1987. Status re-examined and confirmed in May 2004.

Top of Page

2. Species Status Information

Victorin’s Water-hemlock is endemic to Quebec, which means that the entire population occurs in Canada. It was listed on Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act (S.C. 2002, c. 29) (SARA) as a species of special concern in July 2005. It was designated as threatened in Quebec under the Quebec Act Respecting Threatened and Vulnerable Species (R.S.Q., c. E-12.01) in 2001. Victorin’s Water-hemlock has been given a global rank of G5T2 (species widespread and abundant at the global level with imperiled subspecies), a national rank in Canada of N2 (imperiled) and a subnational rank in Quebec of S2 (imperiled) by NatureServe (2009).  

Top of Page

3. Species Information

3.1 Species Description

Victorin’s Water-hemlock is one of three known varieties (var. victorinii, var. maculata and var. angustifolia) of Water-hemlock (Cicuta maculata) in Canada (COSEWIC, 2004). This herbaceous perennial of the family Umbelliferae is between 0.5 and 2 metres (m) tall. Its erect stem, which is often streaked with purple, is hollow, except at the nodes, and is encircled by the leaf stalk. The leaves are alternate, lanceolate[2] to ovate lanceolate, 10 to 80 cm long and 4 to 8 cm wide. Each leaf is divided into three linear-lanceolate, finely toothed leaflets. The inflorescence is composed of umbellets2 with unequal pedicels2 that bear small white flowers. The fruit, produced from August to October, is a light to dark brown double achene, 3.5 to 4 mm long, that separates into two seeds at maturity, each with corky ribs. The lateral ribs are more prominent than the dorsal ribs, which are sometimes absent. All parts of the plant are toxic (COSEWIC, 2004).

Top of Page

3.2 Populations and Distribution

The varieties victorinii and maculata occur in Quebec. Victorin’s Water-hemlock (var. victorinii) is endemic to the freshwater St. Lawrence upper estuary. The southwestern limit of its range is at Batiscan on the north shore of the river and the northeastern limit is at Saint-Jean-Port-Joli on the south shore and at Saint-Joachim on the north shore (Figure 1). A disjunct occurrence was reported at Chandler at the time of the review of the Water-hemlock specimens of the Marie-Victorin herbarium (COSEWIC, 2004). This historical observation is based on a specimen collected in 1931 and must be validated.

Victorin’s Water-hemlock is known from 45 occurrences, all located downstream of Batiscan along the St. Lawrence River (Appendix A). That figure is up from the 39 occurrences reported in the COSEWIC status report (2004) and is the result of the discovery of six new occurrences since the species assessment.  

The Centre de Données sur le Patrimoine Naturel du Québec (CDPNQ, 2009) has demographic data for 34 of the 45 occurrences[3] and ranks them as follows (see Appendix B for the definition of the quality ranks):

  • 11 occurrences with a quality rank of A (excellent)
  • 6 occurrences with a quality rank of B (good)
  • 3 occurrences with a quality rank of C (fair)
  • 12 occurrences with a quality rank of D (poor)
  • 7 occurrences with a quality rank of E (recent)
  • 1 occurrence with a quality rank of F (not relocated)
  • 3 occurrences with a quality rank of H (historical)
  • 2 occurrences with a quality rank of X (extirpated).

All occurrences located in the western part of the species’ range are of poor quality. There is no apparent reason for this, particularly since there is excellent-quality habitat at that location.  According to Jolicoeur and Couillard (2007), the population is estimated at between 1700 and 6500 fruit-bearing individuals. However, more recent surveys suggest that the total population is much higher. For instance, Gilbert (2009, 2010) reports that the population (fruit-bearing plants and vegetative plants; that is, young plants that have not yet developed flowers) in five of these occurrences is over 10 000 individuals and that fruit-bearing plants represent approximately 5% of the species’s total population.

According to the COSEWIC report (2004), the population trend is stable. Surveys conducted since the publication of that report suggest that this is still the case. The increase in the number of occurrences since the species assessment does not necessarily indicate an increase in population size or range, but rather reflects a more intensive search effort.

Figure 1. Distribution of occurrences of Victorin’s Water-hemlock in Quebec (CDPNQ, 2009).
Note: The dotted area shown in the upper insert is enlarged in the lower insert.

Figure 1 is a distribution map of the occurrence of Victorin’s Water-hemlock in Quebec. The data were provided by the Centre de données sur le patrimoine naturel du Québec and date from 2009. Symbols shown on the map indicate the quality of the 45 occurrences: excellent, good, moderate, low, recent, not relocated, historical and eradicated. This plant species is endemic to the freshwater estuary of the St. Lawrence. The southwestern limit of its range is at Batiscan on the north shore of the St. Lawrence. The northeastern limit of its range is at Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, on the south shore of the St. Lawrence, and also at Saint-Joachim on the north shore.

Top of Page

3.3 Needs of the Victorin’s Water-hemlock

3.3.1 Habitat and biological needs

The habitat of Victorin’s Water-hemlock is defined as the freshwater and brackish intertidal zone of the St. Lawrence estuary. The species typically grows in tall, dense Prairie Cordgrass (Spartina pectinata) beds on the upper littoral (that portion of the littoral that dries completely at low tide) (Robert, 1993; Brouillet et al., 2004). The upper littoral is covered by water for two to three hours a day during equinoctial high tides, but seldom reached by high low tides. In the mid-littoral zone or on thin substrate, the species can also occur in open, low grassbeds, but the plants are smaller than those of the upper littoral (Robert, 1993). In the study by Brouillet et al. (2004), 75% of the observations of Victorin’s Water-hemlock were located in the upper littoral, with the remaining 25% in the upper part of the mid-littoral zone. Victorin’s Water-hemlock occupies thick (> 15 cm), fine- or mixed-grained (never coarse), non-stony to slightly stony (seldom very stony) surface deposits. The density of individuals is markedly lower on gravel and pebble substrates (Robert, 1993). The water pH measured at several occurrences ranges from 8.0 (Anse de Berthier and L’Islet) to 8.5 (Anse de Saint-Vallier) (Rousseau, 1930; 1932). The surface deposits consist of fragmented schist and suspended silt (Legault, 1986), with a pH of 7.5 (Rousseau, 1930).

Top of Page

3.3.2 Limiting factors

Because of its very specific ecological requirements, Victorin’s Water-hemlock is confined to the freshwater or slightly brackish intertidal zone. Its distribution in Quebec is limited by the small-amplitude tides upstream of Batiscan and the higher water salinity in the region of Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, the L’Isle-aux-Grues archipelago and Beaupré. The Chandler occurrence must be confirmed and there is no known Victorin’s Water-hemlock habitat at that location. It is highly likely that it resembles the occurrence found in the freshwater or slightly brackish intertidal zone of the St. Lawrence.

Although it is toxic to mammals, as is also the variety maculata, signs of browsing by Muskrats (Ondatra zibethicus) and White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) were observed in 2009 at some locations, but it is believed to be random and not targeted specifically at this species (Gilbert, 2010). Aphids have been observed in large numbers on umbellets and fruits (COSEWIC, 2004), and the larvae of Black Swallowtail butterflies are known to feed on the flowers and seeds (Morisset, 2008; P. Désilets, pers. obs.).

Top of Page

4. Threats

4.1 Threat Assessment

Table 1. Threat Assessment Table
ThreatLevel of concern1ExtentOccurrenceFrequencySeverity2Causal certainty3
Habitat loss or degradation
Shoreline in-filling and infrastructure constructionHighWidespreadHistorical/ Anticipated4One-time/ UnknownHighHigh
Human tramplingHighLocalizedCurrent/ AnticipatedContinuous/ RecurrentHighHigh
Erosion LowWidespreadCurrentRecurrentModerateHigh
Ice scouringLowWidespreadCurrent/ ImminentSeasonalLow/ UnknownLow
Debris on the littoralLowLocalizedCurrentSeasonalLowLow
Exotic, invasive or introduced species/genome
Invasive plants High/MediumLocalizedCurrentContinuousHigh/LowLow
Changes in ecological dynamics or natural processes
MowingMediumLocalizedCurrentContinuous/ RecurrentHigh/LowHigh
Overabundant wildlife populationsMedium/LowLocalizedCurrentSeasonalModerate/ LowMedium/ Low
Climate and natural disasters
Changes in water salinity due to climate change LowLocalizedAnticipatedContinuousHigh/ UnknownMedium / Low
Pollution
Fertilizer dischargesLowWidespreadCurrentUnknownLow/ UnknownLow
Oil spillsLowLocalizedAnticipatedOne-timeUnknownLow

1 Level of Concern: signifies that managing the threat is of (high, medium or low) concern for the recovery of the species, consistent with the population and distribution objectives. This criterion considers the assessment of all the information in the table.

2 Severity: reflects the population-level effect (high: very large population-level effect, moderate, low, unknown).

3 Causal certainty: reflects the degree of evidence that is known for the threat (high: available evidence strongly links the threat to stresses on population viability; medium: there is a correlation between the threat and population viability e.g. expert opinion; low: the threat is assumed or plausible).

4 Each threat assessment criterion is assessed for each occurrence and for the entire range. When two qualifiers are indicated in a box, that means the identified threat does not have the same impact at both levels (scale of occurrences/entire range).

Top of Page

4.2 Description of Threats

The threats are presented in decreasing order of concern.

Shoreline in-filling and infrastructure construction

Shoreline in-filling for the construction of infrastructure such as homes, roads, piers, railway lines and marinas is responsible for significant loss of Victorin’s Water-hemlock habitat in the Quebec City region, and has resulted in local extinctions (COSEWIC, 2004). For example, the construction of the railway line at Cap-Rouge destroyed almost the entire natural shoreline between Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures and Cap-Rouge, preventing recolonization by Victorin’s Water-hemlock. Shoreline in-filling has been prohibited since 1987 under the Quebec Environment Quality Act (R.S.Q., c. Q-2, s. 2.1). However, the number of projects requiring access to the shoreline continues to grow. Harbour expansion and marina construction projects, such as those at Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, destroy the upper littoral where Victorin’s Water-hemlock occurs. The restoration of deteriorating retaining walls and shoreline excavation activities also cause habitat loss and degradation. These problems appear to be widespread throughout the species’s range, with the exception of the L’Isle-aux-Grues occurrences.

Human trampling

Human trampling (hikers, water sports enthusiasts, skateboarders, etc.) and all-terrain vehicle (ATV) traffic are significant threats to Victorin’s Water-hemlock in the intertidal zone (COSEWIC, 2004). These activities not only result in the mortality of individuals, but also significantly alter the species’ habitat by compacting the soil and creating openings that increase erosion of the substrate due to wave action.

Invasive plants

Invasive plant species, such as Common Reed (Phragmites australis), are significant threats to Victorin’s Water-hemlock (Désilets et al., 2009), because, once established, they can replace all other species of the upper littoral. In addition, there are few known effective measures for controlling these species or limiting their spread (Gilbert 2009, 2010). Common Reed now occurs in high densities in the upper littoral of the Cap-Saint-Ignace occurrence and also covers part of the Saint-Jean-Port-Joli occurrence. There is a risk that it will become established and spread very quickly; in fact, pockets of dispersal exist both downstream and upstream of several recently visited occurrences (Gilbert 2009, 2010). Habitat disturbances caused by human activities (hunting, ATV use, kayaking, etc.) promote the establishment of invasive species. This threat is not identified in COSEWIC (2004).

Mowing

Mowing of the littoral along the St. Lawrence estuary by shoreline residents has been observed at several locations (COSEWIC, 2004). Mowing deprives Victorin’s Water-hemlock of its only means of reproduction by preventing the formation of flower stalks and can therefore lead to the extirpation of some occurrences. Mowing is common at sites along the shoreline where there are homes and cottages and in regions used by hunters and residents, such as Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures and the Côte-de-Beaupré sector.

Overabundant wildlife populations

Increases in certain wildlife populations caused by human activity can pose a significant threat to Victorin’s Water-hemlock. For example, the introduction of White-tailed Deer in the L’Isle-aux-Grues archipelago, and the subsequent spread of the population to Grosse-Île, has resulted in increased browsing, trampling and alteration of Victorin’s Water-hemlock habitat. Signs of browsing by White-tailed Deer on Victorin’s Water-hemlock was observed at Grosse-Île in 2009 (29% of plants browsed,[4] Gilbert, 2010). The overabundance of Greater Snow Geese (Chen caerulescens), which is associated with the increasingly common presence of grain crops on resting and wintering grounds, can also modify the integrity of marshes and Victorin’s Water-hemlock habitat (Bélanger and Lefebvre, 2006; Gilbert, 2010). This threat was not identified in COSEWIC (2004). 

Changes in water salinity due to climate change

Climate change could have a number of effects on the dynamics of the St. Lawrence River. First, the reduction in flows caused by increased retention of the Great Lakes waters or by a decline in precipitation in the watershed could modify the salinity level in the estuary (Ouranos, 2004). Victorin’s Water-hemlock tolerates low salinity conditions, and the upstream movement of salinity would likely lead to the disappearance of occurrences further downstream, particularly those of Saint-Jean-Port-Joli and the L’Isle-aux-Grues archipelago. Alternatively, the rise in sea level due to melting of glaciers could increase the water level of the St. Lawrence River and move the fresh-/brackish-water limit upstream, potentially resulting in the same effects (Ouranos, 2004).

Ice scouring

Ice scouring of rocks and shoreline during the daily tidal cycle and spring ice break-up can uproot plants (COSEWIC, 2004). However, it can also be beneficial by providing areas suitable for seed establishment. It is not known whether these natural events are more frequent, widespread or severe than they were before the construction of infrastructure along the banks of the St. Lawrence or before climate change affected the river. Morisset (2008) mentions a marked decline in the number of individuals in the Saint-Jean-Port-Joli occurrence due to abrasion by moving ice in winter. At one time, the intertidal zone was characterized by stable ice cover for the entire winter, limiting ice scouring to a shorter period in the spring. Gilbert (2010) also notes that several occurrences of Victorin’s Water-hemlock are affected by this problem.

Pollution

Although the water quality of the St. Lawrence River is improving, it is still polluted by many different kinds of discharges, including phosphates from agricultural or residential sources (COSEWIC, 2004). In some areas, the presence of fertilizers in the St. Lawrence River causes blooms of algae and other aquatic plant species (e.g., Vallisneria americana, Potamogeton sp.) that can cover occurrences of Victorin’s Water-hemlock. Subsequent tides stir up the water and uncover the plants, but their amplitude is variable.

Erosion

Changes in St. Lawrence water levels can delay freeze-up, thus enabling fall storms to cause significant damage to shorelines by accelerating the erosion of shorelines and structures designed to protect shoreline in-filling (Ouranos, 2004). Increased erosion results in net habitat loss, a phenomenon which is exacerbated by the wake of vessels operating in the St. Lawrence Seaway (Gilbert, 2010). This threat was not identified in the COSEWIC report (2004).

Oil spills

An oil spill could destroy occurrences of Victorin’s Water-hemlock along the freshwater estuary of the St. Lawrence by fouling individuals with toxic products and changing the abiotic conditions (Coursol, 1999; COSEWIC, 2004). The impacts associated with oilspill clean-up operations along the shoreline would also be considerable. This risk is increased by the narrowness of the St. Lawrence River at Quebec City.

Debris on the littoral

Debris discarded by residents along the shoreline (e.g., very dense piles of wood chips, mowing debris along the shoreline, grass clippings, leaves in fall) has been observed in some occurrences. If plants in these occurrences are covered with debris for too long a period, flowering and survival are compromised. However, given the species’s position in the upper littoral, it is subject to natural plant debris (e.g., algae) deposition, which occurs twice a day with the tides. This threat was not identified in the COSEWIC report (2004).

Top of Page

5. Management Objective

The management objective has two distinct time frames. In the long term, the objective is to maintain and, if possible, increase the population size and area of occupancy of Victorin’s Water-hemlock throughout its range in Quebec. In the short term, the objective is to maintain and, if possible, increase the population size and area of occupancy of Victorin’s Water-hemlock for each of the 18 occurrences identified as priority targets.

The approach used to identify priority targets is taken from the Quebec government’s Victorin’s Water-hemlock conservation plan (Jolicoeur and Couillard, 2007), which identifies priority targets on the basis of four criteria: 1) protection of all known occurrences of excellent (A) and good (B) quality; 2) protection of at least one viable occurrence per currently occupied physiographic unit; 3) protection of at least one viable occurrence per currently occupied habitat type; and 4) reintroduction of the species, where applicable, in all physiographic units in which it is extirpated or historically known.

The conservation plan identifies 17 occurrences as priority targets. However, on the basis of surveys conducted after the plan was published, a new occurrence with a quality rank of B (that of Neuville) was added and the quality ranks of several occurrences were revised. The application of the four priority target selection criteria to these more recent data led to the identification of 17 occurrences with quality ranks of A and B. One occurrence with a quality rank of C was added to represent the various sectors of the range (criterion 2). These occurrences meet the requirements of the third and fourth criteria without it being necessary to add other priority targets. A total of 18 occurrences are therefore identified as priority targets (Table 2).

The 18 priority occurrences alone represent approximately 90% of the fruit-bearing plants. In addition, several priority occurrences support other plant species at risk or listed as likely to be so designated (SARA, Quebec Act Respecting Threatened or Vulnerable Species), which increases their conservation value.

The selection of priority occurrences could eventually be improved through a more comprehensive analysis of the conservation value of the marshes of the freshwater estuary of the St. Lawrence using a larger number of factors, such as the presence of riparian forests and wildlife species of interest. In fact, such an exercise has been undertaken by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (Désilets et al., 2009).

Table 2. Priority Occurrences of Victorin’s Water-hemlock1
No.OccurrenceQuality RankNumber of Other Plant Species at Risk2Administrative Region/
Regional County Municipality
Ownership/Protection3
1Deschambault GrondinesC11Capitale-Nationale/ PortneufPublic
2Saint-Augustin-de-DesmauresA13Capitale-Nationale/ QuébecPrivate/
Protected private site
3Cap-RougeB8Capitale-Nationale/ QuébecPublic
4Sainte-PétronilleB1Capitale-Nationale/ L’Île-d’OrléansPublic
5Lévis, Pointe de La MartinièreA5Chaudière-Appalaches/ LévisPrivate
6Beaumont, Anse de Vincennes and area to the westA4Chaudière-Appalaches/ LévisPublic
7Saint-Laurent-de-l’Île-d’OrléansA1Capitale-Nationale/ L’Île-d’OrléansPublic
8Saint-Michel de-BellechasseB7Chaudière-Appalaches/ BellechassePublic /
Plant habitat
9Pointe à Labrecque, Anse Saint-Vallier (Saint-Michel-de-Bellechasse, Saint-Vallier)B8Chaudière-Appalaches/ BellechassePublic
10BeaupréA2Capitale-Nationale/La Côte-de-BeaupréPublic
11Pointe Dauphine (Saint-Jean-de-l’Île-d’Orléans)A9Capitale-Nationale/ L’Île-d’OrléansPublic
12Pointe de Saint-Vallier, Anse de BellechasseA7Chaudière-Appalache/ BellechasseMixed/
Protected private site
13Anse de BerthierA9Chaudière-Appalaches/ MontmagnyPublic /
Plant habitat
14Île aux GruesA-Chaudière-Appalaches/ MontmagnyPublic
15Anse du Cap (Cap-Saint-Ignace)A4Chaudière-Appalaches/ MontmagnyPublic /
Plant habitat
16L’Islet, Rocher PanetB-Chaudière-Appalaches/ L’IsletPublic
17Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, Anse de Trois-SaumonsA-Chaudière-Appalaches/ L’IsletPublic
18Neuville, south of the Provencher marshB10Capitale-Nationale/ NeuvilleMixed /
Protected private site (partial)

1 Adapted from Jolicoeur and Couillard (2007).
2 Number of plant species designated as threatened or vulnerable under the Quebec Act Respecting Threatened or Vulnerable Species or listed as likely to be so designated according to the CDPNQ.
3 Certain occurrences are located in aquatic bird gathering sites (status assigned by the Quebec Ministère des Ressources Naturelles et de la Faune) and migratory bird sanctuaries. Although these status designations can help to limit certain threats, they do not have the explicit objective of protecting plants. They are not mentioned in this table, nor are they considered as affording protection to Victorin’s Water-hemlock.

Top of Page

6. Broad Strategies and Management Actions

6.1 Actions Already Completed or Currently Underway

Monitoring of occurrences

A monitoring method was developed in 2008 as part of the initiatives of the recovery team for threatened vegetation of the St. Lawrence freshwater estuary. The monitoring work made it possible to specify certain demographic parameters of several occurrences of Victorin’s Gentian (Gentianopsis virgata ssp. victorinii), Victorin’s Water-hemlock, and Parker’s Pipewort (Eriocaulon parkeri) (Gilbert, 2009; 2010). The Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures, Grosse-Île, Pointe de Saint-Vallier, and Cap Tourmente occurrences, as well as a new occurrence at Pointe aux Pins on Île aux Grues, were targeted and monitored. It has been proposed that some 20 permanent quadrats be subject to annual monitoring (Gilbert, 2009).

Conservation

At the provincial level, the Quebec government published a conservation plan for Victorin’s Water-hemlock in 2007 (Jolicoeur and Couillard, 2007).  It lists the occurrences identified as priority conservation targets, the conservation issues and the various response strategies for 2007–2011. The response strategies are as follows: the creation of plant habitats in the Crown hydrological domain, support for conservation organizations in their acquisition or voluntary conservation projects, outreach initiative directed at municipalities on the management of designated plant habitats and involvement of municipalities in their management, and support for the initiatives of the recovery team for threatened vegetation of the St. Lawrence freshwater estuary.

A draft awareness-raising plan was developed by various organizations in 2007 (P. Désilets, pers. comm.). Various communications activities aimed at raising public awareness of the precarious status of Victorin’s Water-hemlock and other species endemic to the shores of the freshwater estuary of the St. Lawrence have been implemented by conservation organizations. The presence of species endemic to the freshwater estuary of the St. Lawrence, including Victorin’s Water-hemlock, was taken into account in the environmental assessment of the Rabaska liquefied natural gas terminal construction project at Lévis, and measures to mitigate the environmental impacts associated with that project have been proposed.

Protection

A number of private properties were acquired by various organizations for conservation purposes, and, although not required as a species of special concern under SARA, legal habitat protection status has been assigned to several sites. Approximately one-third of the occurrences enjoy some form of direct legal protection, including three provincial plant habitats (see s. 17 of the Act Respecting Threatened or Vulnerable Species) and two sites protected by non-governmental organizations.

Research

A literature review of the genetic and biological aspects of estuary species has been conducted.

Top of Page

6.2 Strategic Direction for Management and Implementation Schedule

The strategies of this management plan are based on the conservation activities identified in the Quebec government’s conservation plan for Victorin’s Water-hemlock (Jolicoeur and Couillard, 2007). The activity implementation schedule is presented in Table 3.

Strategy 1: Conservation and management of occurrences

To maintain the population size and area of occupancy of the priority occurrences of Victorin’s Water-hemlock, it is critical to define their spatial boundaries. Improved delimitation of Quebec’s Crown hydrological domain (high-water mark) should make it possible to facilitate the conservation and management of the priority occurrences located there given the Quebec government’s rights on these lands.[5] The land ownership of the lots on which the priority occurrences of Victorin’s Water-hemlock are found must also be defined, primarily in the Côte-de-Beaupré and Côte-du-Sud sectors. Finally, the conservation plans, management plans and other administrative land-use management documents will have to be modified to take account of the requirements of Victorin’s Water-hemlock.

Given that several plant species at risk share the same habitat as Victorin’s Water-hemlock, a multispecies shoreline conservation approach will be used, supporting the work of the recovery team for threatened vegetation of the St. Lawrence freshwater estuary.

At the same time, it is critical to raise awareness among the various users of the St. Lawrence River (fishermen, kayakers, pleasure boaters) and its shoreline (hunters, waterfront property owners), who are responsible for many of the threats to Victorin’s Water-hemlock. The general public and riverside communities will have to be informed of the fragility of the environment and the importance of this unique ecosystem, which supports many at-risk plant species.

Strategy 2: Increase knowledge of the species’s demographics, biology and taxonomy

Through the monitoring of the occurrences of Victorin’s Water-hemlock (Gilbert, 2009; 2010), critical data have been collected on the temporal variability of the abundance and distribution of certain occurrences. Such monitoring is required to quantify the spatial and temporal dynamics of the occurrences in the medium term. The monitoring of poor-quality or historical occurrences and the performance of surveys in sectors that contain potential habitat would make it possible to specify the current range and population trend of this species, which is endemic to Quebec.

Studies are required to develop a reliable identification criterion that is not based on the fruit so as to be able to more easily differentiate Victorin’s Water-hemlock from Spotted Water-hemlock. The priority occurrences are often found in proximity to Spotted Water-hemlock and many of the specimens that were identified in the field as the variety victorinii were subsequently identified as the variety maculata once the specimens were dried. This problem was encountered several times in occurrences east of Quebec City, primarily in the L’Isle-aux-Grues archipelago and the RCMs of Côte-de-Beaupré and Montmagny. The viability of the occurrences and the species’s reproductive and mortality rates must also be determined through scientific field work, together with experiments involving in situ or ex situ manipulations. Finally, the spatial proximity of the two varieties suggests that there could be genetic exchanges between them (introgression) and that the gene pool of Victorin’s Water-hemlock could be threatened. It is important to address these issues.

The habitat dynamics must be characterized to understand the fluctuations in the population size of Victorin’s Water-hemlock. Studies designed to quantify the importance of invasive plants and their effects on priority occurrences, as well as the importance of shoreline erosion and the identification of the underlying causes (e.g., ice scouring) are required to mitigate the impacts of these threats.

Table 3. Implementation Schedule
ActionPriorityThreats or concerns addressedResponsibility*Timeline
LeadOther
Strategy 1: Conservation and management of occurrences
1.1 Determine the land tenure and delineate the public hydrological domain of the 18 priority occurrences.HighShoreline in-filling and infrastructure construction, trampling, mowingMDDEPNGOs2011–2012
1.2 Map and spatially delineate the 18 priority occurrences.HighShoreline in-filling and infrastructure construction, trampling, mowingMDDEPNGOsAs opportunities allow
1.3 Establish conservation and stewardship agreements with land managers and property owners at the 18 priority occurrences.HighShoreline in-filling and infrastructure construction, trampling, mowingMDDEPPCA, NGOsAnnually
1.4 Promote the multispecies approach for the conservation of threatened plant species of the freshwater estuary of the St. Lawrence.HighAllMDDEP, EC, PCANGOs, universitiesAnnually
1.5 Incorporate the recommendations of this management plan into existing administrative documents on the areas (e.g., municipal land-use plan) where occurrences are present.MediumAllMDDEPEC, PCA, municipalities, RCMs2011–2016
1.6 Carry out outreach and communications activities with property owners, interest groups and the general public in sectors where there are occurrences of Victorin’s Water-hemlock.HighShoreline in-filling and infrastructure construction, trampling, invasive plants, mowingMDDEP, PCANGOs2011–2016
1.7 Inform stakeholders called upon to participate in environmental assessments on the status of Victorin’s Water-hemlock.MediumAllMDDEP, EC, PCAMRNFAnnually
Strategy 2: Increase knowledge of the species’s demography, biology and taxonomy
2.1 Continue the monitoring program of occurrences of Victorin’s Water-hemlock (Gilbert, 2009; 2010) and expand it, as required.HighAllMDDEPNGOs, EC, PCAAnnually
2.2 Search for and monitor occurrences with a quality rank of D, E and H and characterize their habitat.HighAllMDDEPEC, NGOs2011–2016
2.3 Locate sectors with habitat potential (including Chaleur Bay) and conduct surveys in those sectors.MediumKnowledge gapsMDDEPEC, PCA, NGOs2011-2016
2.4 Incorporate monitoring data into CDPNQ on an ongoing basis.Lown/aMDDEP Annually
2.5 Develop a new identification criterion for the variety victorinii.HighKnowledge gapsUniversitiesMDDEP2011–2016
2.6 Characterize the habitat and microhabitats of known occurrences.MediumAllMDDEP, universitiesNGOs2011-2016
2.7 Quantify the effects of invasive plants and overabundant species on extant occurrences.MediumInvasive plants, overabundant speciesUniversities 2011–2016
2.8 Measure shoreline erosion at extant occurrences and determine the factors responsible.MediumChanges in salinity, ice scouring, erosionUniversities 2011–2016
2.9 Determine the viability of the occurrences (in situ or ex situmanipulations) and assess the reproductive and mortality rates.LowKnowledge gapsUniversities 2011–2016
2.10 Assess the possibility of hybridization and introgression between the two varieties, as well as the genetic diversity between and within occurrences.LowKnowledge gapsUniversities 2011–2016

* PCA: Parks Canada Agency; EC: Environment Canada; MAPAQ: Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec; MDDEP: Ministère du Dévéloppement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs; RCM: regional county municipality; MRNF: Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune; NGO: Non-governmental Organization. The governmental and non-governmental organizations indicated in the table are for illustrative purposes only, and their inclusion here does not commit them to implement the proposed measures. Implementation is subject to the priorities and budgetary constraints of each organization.

Top of Page

7. Measuring Progress

The performance indicators presented below propose an approach for defining and measuring progress towards the achievement of the population and distribution objectives. Success in implementing this management plan will be evaluated every five years on the basis of the following performance indicators:

  • In the long term, the population size and area of occupancy of Victorin’s Water-hemlock are maintained and, if possible, increased throughout its range;
  • In the short term, the population size and area of occupancy of Victorin’s Water-hemlock are maintained and, if possible, increased in each of the 18 occurrences identified as priority targets.

Top of Page

8. References

Bélanger, L., and J. Lefebvre. 2006. Plan de gestion intégrée durable de la Grande Oie des neiges au Québec : Plan d’action 2005-2010. Canadian Wildlife Service – Quebec Region, Environment Canada, Sainte-Foy. 34 pp.

Brouillet, L., D. Bouchard, and F. Coursol. 2004. Les plantes menacées ou vulnérables et autres plantes rares de l’estuaire fluvial du Saint-Laurent entre Grondines et Saint-Jean-Port-Joli. Report prepared for the Quebec Government, Ministère de l’Environnement, Direction du patrimoine écologique et développement durable, Québec. 85 pp.

CDPNQCentre de Données sur le Patrimoine Naturel du Québec. 2009. Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs, Direction du patrimoine écologique et des parcs.

COSEWIC – Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. 2004. COSEWIC Assessment and Update Status Report on the Victorin’s Water-hemlock, Cicuta maculata var. victorinii, in Canada (PDF; 545 Kb). Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. vii + 21 pp.

Coursol, F. 1999. La situation de la cicutaire maculée variété victorin (Cicuta maculata var. victorinii) au Québec. Gouvernement du Québec, Ministère de l'Environnement et de la Faune, Direction de la conservation et du patrimoine écologique, Québec. 39 pp.

Désilets, P., H. Pelletier-Gilbert, S. Giguet, and H. Breich, 2009. Plan de conservation de l’aire naturelle de l’Estuaire d’eau douce. Nature Conservancy of Canada, Quebec Region. Unpublished report. 84 pp.

Gilbert, H. 2009. Développement d’une méthodologie et évaluation en 2008 (an zéro) du suivi des populations de trois espèces en situation précaire dans l’estuaire d’eau douce du Saint-Laurent : Gentiane de Victorin (Gentianopsis virgata ssp. victorinii), Cicutaire de Victorin (Cicuta maculata var. victorinii), Ériocaulon de Parker (Eriocaulon parkeri). Final report for Parks Canada, Quebec City Field Unit, as part of the work of the recovery team for threatened vegetation of the St. Lawrence freshwater estuary. 87 pp. + appendices.

Gilbert, H. 2010. Suivi en 2009 des populations de trois espèces en situation précaire de l’estuaire d’eau douce du Saint-Laurent : gentiane de Victorin (Gentianopsis virgata ssp. victorinii), cicutaire de Victorin (Cicuta maculata var. victorinii), ériocaulon de Parker (Eriocaulon parkeri). For Environment Canada, Ducks Unlimited, Parks Canada, Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs, and Conservation de la Nature, Québec, as part of the work of the recovery team for threatened vegetation of the St. Lawrence freshwater estuary. ix + 81 pp. + 4 appendices and CD-ROM.

Jolicoeur, G. and L. Couillard 2007. Plan de conservation de la cicutaire maculée variété de Victorin (Cicuta maculata var. victorinii) : Espèce menacée au Québec. Gouvernement du Québec, Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs, Direction du patrimoine écologique et des parcs, Québec. 16 pp.

Legault, A. 1986. Status Report on Victorin’s Water-hemlock, Cicuta maculata var. victorinii, in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. 46 pp.

Marie-Victorin, Fr. 1964. Flore laurentienne. Les Presses de l’Université de Montréal, Montreal. 925 pp.

Mulligan, G.A. 1980. The genus Cicuta in North America. Canadian Journal of Botany 58: 1755–1767.

NatureServe. 2009. NatureServe Explorer. An online encyclopedia of life [Web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. (Accessed: January 2, 2009).

Ouranos. 2004. S’adapter aux changements climatiques. Bibliothèque Nationale du Québec. 83 pp.

Robert, E. 1993. Étude des plantes rares du littoral du fleuve Saint-Laurent à la hauteur de Saint-Vallier, comté de Bellechasse, Québec. Submitted to Pierre Morisset and Robert Gauthier as part of the classwork for the BIO-10084 course, Faculty of Science and Engineering at Laval University, Biology Department. Unpublished work. 117 pp.

Rousseau, J. 1930. Le pH de quelques habitats aquatiques. Le Naturaliste canadien 57: 113–115.

Rousseau, J. 1932. Contribution à l’étude du Gentiana victorinii. Contribution No. 23 of the botany laboratory of Université de Montréal. 7 pp.

Top of Page

Appendix A. List of the 45 Known Occurrences of Victorin’s Water-hemlock in Quebec (2010)

 
OccurrenceLast assessment*Quality rank
Anse de Berthier1995-09-13A
Anse du Cap (Cap-Saint-Ignace)1996-09-15A
Beaupré2007-08-16A
Île aux Grues1996-09-04A
Lévis, Pointe Martinière1996-09-04A
Beaumont, Anse de Vincennes and area to the west2005A
Pointe Dauphine (Saint-Jean-de-l’Île-d’Orléans)1995-08-29A
Pointe de Saint-Vallier, Anse de Bellechasse2005-09-05A
Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures2005-09-04A
Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, Anse de Trois-Saumons1997A
Saint-Laurent-de-l’Île-d'Orléans1997-09-02A
Cap-Rouge1995-08-17B
L'Islet, Rocher Panet1996-09-05B
Neuville, south of the Provencher marsh2008-08-26B
Sainte-Pétronille2007-08-16B
Pointe à Labrecque, Anse Saint-Vallier (Saint-Michel-de-Bellechasse, Saint-Vallier)1995-09-11B
Saint-Michel-de-Bellechasse1995-09-12B
Deschambault-Grondines1996-09-20C
Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, wharf1996-09-05C
RCM of Bellechasse, access via a small road perpendicular to Highway 132 called Entrée 27, Baie de Beaumont2007-08-15C
Berthier-sur-Mer, Trou de Berthier1995-09-13D
Île aux Grues, wharf1996-09-04D
L'Islet-sur-Mer, cove east of the wharf1995-08-27D
Pointe-aux-Trembles-Ouest, Pointe à Alain1995-09-19D
Saint-Nicolas, Anse Ross1991-09-05D
Saint-François, Île d'Orléans1997-09-02D
Saint-Jean, west of the mouth of the Lafleur River1995-08-28D
Saint-Joachim, Cap-Tourmente National Wildlife Area, Pointe-aux-Prêtres2004-09-02D
Saint-Laurent-de-l’Île-d’Orléans, Village-des-Anglais, Trou Saint-Pierre1995-09-20D
Saint-Nicolas, Pointe Saint-Nicolas, Anse du Vieux Moulin, east of Couture Creek1995-09-18D
Saint-Romuald, cove west of the mouth of the Etchemin River1995-08-26D
Unorganized aquatic territory of the RCM of Lotbinière, Pointe Platon, east sand flat1996-09-20D
Beaumont, Anse à Margot, across from Lot 3202003-09-12E
Berthier-sur-Mer, Anse de Bellechasse2004-01-01E
Cap-Saint-Ignace2006-08-22E
Grosse-Île1993-07-20E
Montmagny, approximately 6 km northeast of the Berthier-sur-Mer marina2006-10-20E
Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade2001E
Unorganized aquatic territory – RCM of Bellechasse, roughly 1 km northeast of Baie de Beaumont and approximately 500 m southwest of Anse au Moulin2006-08-20E
Batiscan1941-07-05F
Chandler, Chaleur Bay1931-08-06H
L'Ange-Gardien1942-08-23H
Lotbinière1985-08H
Beauport1913-08-19X
Saint-Nicolas, Pointe à Basile1950-07-14X

* The date indicates the last site visit during which the number of individuals was assessed for the entire occurrence. Although some occurrences have been monitored since 2008, the method used (counts in 10-m x 10-m plots) does not allow for updating the data on the number of individuals in the occurrences visited.

Top of Page

Appendix B. Definition of the Quality Ranks of Occurrences of Victorin’s Water-hemlock

 
Quality rankDefinition
APopulation of over 100 individuals in a habitat that is not or only slightly disturbed
by human activity.
BPopulation of 51 to 100 individuals in a habitat that is not or only slightly disturbed by
human activity or population of 100 individuals disturbed by filling or pedestrian or vehicle traffic.
CPopulation of 10 to 50 individuals in a habitat that is not or only slightly disturbed by human activity or population of 51 to100 individuals disturbed by filling or pedestrian
or vehicle traffic.
DPopulation of less than ten individuals in a habitat that is not or only slightly disturbed by human activity or population of 10 to 50 individuals disturbed by filling
operations, human trampling or vehicle traffic.
ERecent population; the observation of the population dates back fewer than 25 years, but we have no information on its demographics.
FPopulation not relocated despite major search efforts.
HHistorical population; the observation of the population dates back more than 25 years.
XExtirpated population.

Top of Page

Appendix C. Effects on the Environment and Non–target Species

A strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is conducted on all SARA recovery planning documents, in accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals. The purpose of a SEA is to incorporate environmental considerations into the development of public policies, plans, and program proposals to support environmentally sound decision making.

The planning of the management of a species of special concern is intended to benefit species at risk and biodiversity in general. However, it is recognized that management plans may also inadvertently lead to environmental effects beyond the intended benefits. The planning process based on national guidelines directly incorporates consideration of all environmental effects, with a particular focus on possible impacts on non-target species or habitats. The results of the SEA are incorporated directly in the strategy itself, but are also summarized below.
 
The potential for this plan to inadvertently lead to adverse effects on other species was considered. Because the recommended actions are limited to non-intrusive activities, such as the monitoring of occurrences and outreach activities, it may be concluded that the management plan will not entail any significant adverse effects.

Victorin’s Water-hemlock depends on the upper and mid-littoral zone. As a result, the conservation of this species may contribute to maintaining a few adjacent remnant riparian forests at risk of disappearing. The conservation of Victorin’s Water-hemlock habitat will benefit many wildlife species that frequent this habitat, including breeding waterfowl and other plant species that are endemic to the freshwater estuary of the St. Lawrence and that live in association with Victorin’s Water-hemlock, some of which are in a precarious state, such as Provancher’s Fleabane (Erigeron philadelphicus ssp. provancheri) (listed as special concern in Schedule 3 of SARA and designated threatened under the Quebec Act Respecting Threatened or Vulnerable Species), most occurrences of Victorin’s Gentian (listed as threatened in Schedule 1 of SARA and designated threatened under the Quebec Act Respecting Threatened or Vulnerable Species), and Parker’s Pipewort (species designated threatened under the Quebec Act Respecting Threatened or Vulnerable Species). In addition, roughly ten other species listed as likely to be designated threatened or vulnerable in Quebec live in association with Victorin’s Water-hemlock. The conservation activities aimed at sites that support occurrences of Victorin’s Water-hemlock and outreach efforts aimed at the public and communities along the river will contribute directly to the conservation of the populations of these other rare species in the freshwater estuary of the St. Lawrence River.


1 An occurrence comprises one or more spatially circumscribed individuals. It can be extant or historical and can vary in terms of area.

2 Lanceolate: lance-shaped; umbellet: a small umbel of a compound umbel (type of inflorescence whose many flowers extend outwards like the radii of a sphere); pedicel: stalk of each flower. Adapted from Marie-Victorin (1964).

3 The 11 occurrences for which CDPNQ has no demographic data are occurrences that either have not been surveyed for over 25 years or have never been surveyed.

4 According to Frédéric Coursol (pers. comm.), the flower stalks can sometimes be torn off by tidal action, which can give the appearance of browsing. This percentage is probably overestimated.

5 Section 919 of the Civil Code of Québec states “The beds of navigable and floatable lakes and watercourses are property of the State up to the high-water line [with exceptions where there might have been lease or transfer of the bed or shore pursuant to historical privileges associated with the seigneurial regime]. The beds of non-navigable and non-floatable lakes and watercourses bordering lands alienated by the State after 9 February 1918 also are property of the State up to the high-water line; before that date, ownership of the riparian land carried with it, upon alienation, ownership of the beds of non-navigable and non-floatable watercourses.  In all cases, the law or the act of concession may provide otherwise.”