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Recovery Strategy for the Southern Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris) in Canada [PROPOSED] – 2012
Species at Risk Act
Recovery Strategy Series
Adopted under Section 44 of SARA
Southern Maidenhair Fern
Table of Contents [Part 1]
- Additions and Modifications to the Adopted Document
- 1. Species Status Information
- 2. Socio-economic Considerations
- 3. Recovery Feasibility
- 4. Population and Distribution Objectives
- 5. Critical Habitat
- 6. Measuring Progress
- 7. Statement on Action Plans
- 8. Effects on the Environment and Other Species
- 9. References
- Appendix 1. Map of Critical Habitat for Southern Maidenhair Fern in Canada
PART 2: Recovery Strategy for the southern maiden-hair fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris) in British Columbia, prepared by the Southern Maiden-hair Fern Recovery Team for the B.C. Ministry of Environment
For copies of the recovery strategy, 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 (SAR) Public Registry.
Cover illustration: Michael Miller
Également disponible en français sous le titre
« Programme de rétablissement de l’adiante cheveux-de-Vénus (Adiantum capillus-veneris) au Canada [Proposition] »
© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of the Environment, 2012. All rights reserved.
Content (excluding the illustrations) may be used without permission, with appropriate credit to the source.
Recovery Strategy for the Southern Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum Capillus-Veneris) in Canada
The federal Recovery Strategy for the Southern Maidenhair Fern in Canada consists of two parts:
Part 2: Recovery Strategy for the southern maiden-hair fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris) in British Columbia, prepared by the Southern Maiden-hair Fern Recovery Team for the B. C Ministry of Environment.
PART 1: Federal Addition to the “Recovery Strategy for the southern maiden-hair fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris) in British Columbia”, prepared by Environment Canada
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 federal Minister of the Environment is the competent minister for the recovery of the Southern Maidenhair Fern and has prepared the federal component of this recovery strategy (Part 1), as per section 37 of SARA. It has been prepared in cooperation with the Parks Canada Agency and the Province of British Columbia. SARA section 44 allows the Minister to adopt all or part of an existing plan for the species if it meets the requirements under SARA for content (sub-sections 41(1) or (2)). The attached provincial recovery strategy for the Southern Maidenhair Fern (Part 2 of this document) was provided to the Province of British Columbia as science advice to the jurisdictions responsible for managing the species in British Columbia. It was prepared in cooperation with Environment Canada and Parks Canada Agency.
Success in the recovery of this species depends on the commitment and cooperation of many different constituencies that will be involved in implementing the directions set out in this strategy and will not be achieved by Environment Canada, or any other jurisdiction alone. All Canadians are invited to join in supporting and implementing this strategy for the benefit of the Southern Maidenhair Fern and Canadian society as a whole.
This recovery strategy will be followed by one or more action plans that will provide information on recovery measures to be taken by Environment Canada and other jurisdictions and/or organizations involved in the conservation of the species. Implementation of this strategy is subject to appropriations, priorities, and budgetary constraints of the participating jurisdictions and organizations.
The following sections have been included to address specific requirements of SARA that are either not addressed, or which need more detailed comment, in the “Recovery Strategy for the southern maiden-hair fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris) in British Columbia” (Part 2 of this document, referred to henceforth as “the provincial recovery strategy”). In some cases, these sections may also include updated information or modifications to the provincial recovery strategy for adoption by Environment Canada.
Legal Status: SARA Schedule 1 (Endangered) (2003)
|Global (G) Rank||National (N) Rank||Sub-national (S) Rank||COSEWICDesignation||B.C. List||B.C. Conservation Framework|
United States (N5)
|Canada: British Columbia (S1), United States: multiple states**||Endangered (2011)||Red||Highest priority: 1, under Goal 3***|
* Rank 1– critically imperiled; 2– imperiled; 3- vulnerable to extirpation or extinction; 4- apparently secure; 5– secure; H– possibly extirpated; NR - status not ranked
**United States: Alabama (SNR), Arizona (SNR), Arkansas (SNR), California (SNR), Colorado (S2), Florida (S3S4), Georgia (S3S4), Hawaii (SNR), Kentucky (S2), Louisiana (SNR), Maryland (SNR), Mississippi (S2), Missouri (SNR), Navajo Nation (S3S4), Nevada (SNR), New Mexico (SNR), North Carolina (S1), Oklahoma (SNR), South Carolina (SNR), South Dakota (S1), Tennessee (SNR), Texas (SNR), Utah (SNR), Virginia (SH)
*** The three goals of the B.C. Conservation Framework are: 1. Contribute to global efforts for species and ecosystem conservation; 2. Prevent species and ecosystems from becoming at risk; 3. Maintain the diversity of native species and ecosystems
It is estimated that the percent of the global range of this species in Canada is less than 1%.
The provincial recovery strategy contains a short statement on socio-economic considerations. As socio-economic factors are not a consideration in any aspect of the preparation of SARA recovery strategies under Section 41(1) of SARA, the Socio-economic Considerations section of the provincial recovery strategy is not considered part of the federal Minister of Environment's recovery strategy for this species.
This section replaces the “Recovery Feasibility” section in the provincial recovery strategy.
Recovery of the Southern Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris) is considered technically and biologically feasible based on the following four criteria outlined in the draft SARA Policies (Government of Canada 2009):
- Individuals of the wildlife species that are capable of reproduction are available now or in the foreseeable future to sustain the population or improve its abundance.
Yes, individuals capable of reproduction are available to sustain the population. The species is capable of reproducing quickly from spores as well as vegetatively.
- Sufficient suitable habitat is available to support the species or could be made available through habitat management or restoration.
Yes, the available habitats where thermal spring water flows are adequate to support the species, provided that natural flow patterns are maintained. With the current habitats available, howevr, this species is not likely to increase in population number or size.
- The primary threats to the species or its habitat (including threats outside of Canada) can be avoided or mitigated.
Yes, threats to Southern Maidenhair Fern habitat can be mitigated through identified recovery planning approaches, in cooperation with landowners, and provided that natural flow patterns are maintained. Research on broader-scale (i.e., landscape or watershed level) hydro-geological processes affecting hot water supply to the species’ habitat will assist in understanding and potentially reducing threats.
- Recovery techniques exist to achieve the population and distribution objectives, or can be expected to be developed within a reasonable timeframe.
Yes, if the sites and thermal spring flows remain undisturbed, subpopulations should remain stable. The primary recovery techniques relate to threat reduction, and are known to be effective.
This section replaces the “Recovery Goal” section in the provincial recovery strategy.
Environment Canada has determined the Population and Distribution Objective for Southern Maidenhair Fern to be:
To maintain the distribution, and to maintain or (where feasible) improve the abundance, of the one extant population (as represented by the known sub-populations) of this species in Canada, as well as any other extant populations that may be identified.
Abundance and distribution information for Southern Maidenhair Fern shows one known extant population in Canada, that has been recently confirmed (2009 survey). The population is comprised of four sub-populations in close proximity; three extant sub-populations have been recently confirmed (2009 survey), and one sub-population may be extirpated (last recorded in 2003). In Canada, Southern Maidenhair Fern occurs on non-federal land at Fairmont Hot Springs, B.C, where it is more than 1000 km north of its main range. The hot spring water creates a very localized warm, humid microclimate that supports the species’ survival. There is no information to indicate that Southern Maidenhair Fern was previously more widespread, therefore an objective to actively increase the number of populations is not appropriate. However, if additional naturally occurring populations are discovered, these should also be maintained. The abundance of Southern Maidenhair Fern has been noted to decline over the past 10 years (COSEWIC 2011). Although the plant may remain dormant underground for an undetermined amount of time, deliberate attempts to improve abundance, e.g., at the fourth site (last observed in 2003), appears to be warranted.
This section replaces the “Identification of the species’ critical habitat” section in the provincial recovery strategy.
Section 41 (1)(c) of SARA requires that recovery strategies include an identification of the species’ critical habitat, to the extent possible, as well as examples of activities that are likely to result in its destruction. The 2007 provincial recovery strategy for Southern Maidenhair Fern noted that critical habitat could not be identified at that time (nor is it required in the provincial process), owing to a lack of information on habitat and area requirements for the species. This federal document does identify critical habitat to the extent possible for Southern Maidenhair Fern; more precise boundaries may be mapped, and additional critical habitat may be added in the future if ongoing research (e.g. through work by the province, stewardship and recovery groups, university projects, or related federal Interdepartmental Recovery Fund projects) supports the inclusion of areas beyond those currently identified. For example, critical habitat may be added as our understanding of the hydrology which maintains the hot springs increases. A primary consideration in the identification of critical habitat is the amount, quality, and locations of habitat needed to achieve the population and distribution objectives.
Ecological attributes of Southern Maidenhair Fern habitat, which are outlined in the provincial recovery strategy and in the COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report (COSEWIC 2000) include:
Southern Maidenhair Fern requires a very humid, continuously warm microclimate. This species is normally found in seepage areas and on wet cliffs in tropical or warm temperate climates. The one known population in Canada is able to persist because of the warm hot spring water that produces a locally suitable microclimate.
Southern Maidenhair Fern requires a porous, highly calcareous substrate for growth. The one known population in Canada is able to persist because of the porous calcium-carbonate rock (tufa) substrate that is precipitated from the hot spring water.
Southern Maidenhair Fern requires habitats which are free of more competitive vascular plants. The species appears to be capable of colonizing new tufa depositions rapidly. At sites for the one known population in Canada, tufa deposition exceeds that of soil formation, so that there is no local soil development; this appears to restrict encroachment. The sites are sparsely vegetated, where associated with this species.
Critical habitat for Southern Maidenhair Fern in Canada is identified as the area occupied by individual plants or patches of plants, including the associated potential location error from GPS units (ranging from 10 m to 13 m uncertainty distance), plus an additional 50 m (i.e., critical function zone distance) to encompass immediately adjacent areas. Critical habitat also includes the entire portion of distinct ecological features which are associated with, and are integral to, the production and maintenance of suitable habitat conditions, and which provide ecological context for occupied microhabitats.
A large watershed zone provides input for the hot springs (Waterline Resources Inc. 2007), and there is a strong indication that landscape-level effects will influence local hydrology. At this time, it is unknown to what extent landscape-level drainage pattern and outflow characteristics are required for the survival and recovery of Southern Maidenhair Fern, in maintaining the thermal water supply for extant populations. However, it is known that at the local scale, the survival and recovery of Southern Maidenhair Fern depends on a constant flow of hot water from the sub-surface spring that supports extant occurrences. Since the four sub-populations are in close proximity to each other (all location uncertainty plus critical function zone boundaries are less than or equal to 155 m apart), and since they occur in association with the same distinct ecological feature (i.e., their relative position on the landscape indicates that it is likely the same sub-surface spring supplies habitat for all four sub-populations of Southern Maidenhair Fern), connective habitat (i.e., the area in between the sub-populations) is identified as critical habitat.
Given that existing anthropogenic features (including buildings, running surface of active roads) do not possess the biophysical attributes required for the Southern Maidenhair Fern, they are not included as critical habitat, even when they occur within the minimum critical function zone distance (i.e., 50 m) of the plant occurrence. The area containing critical habitat is shown in Appendix 1. Detailed methods and decision-making processes relating to critical habitat identification are archived in a supporting document.
This section replaces the “Recommended schedule of studies to identify critical habitat” section in the provincial recovery strategy.
The critical habitat identified for Southern Maidenhair Fern is sufficient to meet the population and distribution objectives; therefore a schedule of studies is not required.
Understanding what constitutes destruction of critical habitat is necessary for the protection and management of critical habitat. Destruction is determined on a case by case basis. Destruction would result if part of the critical habitat were degraded, either permanently or temporarily, such that it would not serve its function when needed by the species. Destruction may result from a single or multiple activities at one point in time or from the cumulative effects of one or more activities over time. The provincial recovery strategy (2007) provides a description of limitations and potential threats to Southern Maidenhair Fern. Activities described in Table 2 include those likely to cause destruction of critical habitat for the species; destructive activities are not limited to those listed.
|Activity||Description of activity resulting in or contributing to the destruction of critical habitat||Threat level|
|Conversion of natural landscape for human use and development, e.g., for residence, industry, agriculture, or recreation such as commercial hot springs development||Results in direct loss of habitat through vegetation removal or replacement, debris deposition, or impact by machinery. May cause disruption or diversion of local subterranean hot spring hydrology resulting in inadequate hot water supply to Southern Maidenhair Fern sites.||High|
|Roadside maintenance activities such as vegetation clearing, infilling or depositing materials beyond running surface of road||Results in loss of habitat through debris deposition and/or roadbank erosion such that critical habitat for Southern Maidenhair Fern is buried or indirectly affected by altered local hydrological patterns (e.g., drainage, spring flow).||High (for sub-populations at roadside)|
|Activities within the Columbia River watershed (e.g., removal of riparian vegetation or timber harvesting, diverting water flows, or creating impervious areas in the watershed), that cause alteration in local hydrological characteristics||Results in loss of habitat for Southern Maidenhair Fern by altering the watershed pattern (hydrological flow, groundwater discharge) such that thermal water supply is no longer sufficient for survival of this plant.||Moderate / Unknown|
|Trampling by interested botanists, naturalists, and/or horticulturalists attempting to collect or view Southern Maidenhair Fern||Results in direct loss of Southern Maidenhair Fern critical habitat by disturbing the immediate biophysical features required for its colonization and growth (e.g., substratum removal or compaction).||Low / Unknown|
Landscape development, including conversion of the natural landscape for residential, or recreational purposes (i.e., commercial hot springs), has been identified as the major threat likely to result in destruction of critical habitat for Southern Maidenhair Fern. Springs are, by definition, groundwater that discharges to the earth’s surface. The survival and recovery of Southern Maidenhair Fern totally depends on a constant flow of hot water from the Fairmont Hot Springs. In October 2010 it was noted that thermal water was no longer reaching one of the sub-populations, which implies possible destruction of habitat for that sub-population, and the sub-populations occurring below it (P. Holmes, pers. comm. 2011). A large watershed zone provides input for the springs (Waterline Resources Inc. 2007). For example, in the 1970s, landscape activities resulting in modifications to hydrological flow and discharge sites were observed to reduce flow at the adjacent Holland Hot Springs site. This observation highlights the sensitivity of the hot spring environment, and emphasizes the need to consider landscape-level hydrological characteristics and specific drainage pathways in the Columbia River watershed that may be essential to the survival of Southern Maidenhair Fern.
The performance indicator presented below provides a way to define and measure progress toward achieving the population and distribution objectives.
- The abundance and extent of occurrence, for each of the known extant subpopulations of Southern Maidenhair Fern has been maintained or improved, accounting for annual effects and related variation in annual monitoring results.
This section replaces the “Statement on Action Plans” section in the provincial recovery strategy.
An action plan for Southern Maidenhair Fern will be posted on the Species at Risk Public Registry by 2017.
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.
Recovery planning is intended to benefit species at risk and biodiversity in general. However, it is recognized that strategies 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 upon non-target species or habitats. The results of the SEA are incorporated directly into the strategy itself.
Several rare plant species are associated with Southern Maidenhair Fern on the Fairmont Hot Springs property, as described in the provincial recovery strategy (2007). There were seven associated provincially rare plant taxa inventoried at the site in 2002: Enander’s Sedge (Carex lenticularis var. dolia), Beaked Spike-rush (Eleocharis rostellata), Giant Helleborine (Epipactis gigantea) (also SARA Schedule 3, Special Concern), Foxtail Muhly (Muhlenbergia andina), Marshy Muhly (Muhlenbergia glomerata), Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), and Pale Bulrush (Scirpus pallidus).
All rare plant occurrences at the Fairmont Hot Springs location are influenced by the hot springs and occur on moist to dry tufa formations. Any efforts to conserve Southern Maidenhair Fern are believed to be positive for the maintenance of these species over the long term, as well as for their unique environment.
B.C. Conservation Data Centre. 2011. BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer. B.C. Minist. of Environ. Victoria, B.C. (Accessed July 7, 2011).
B.C. Conservation Framework. 2011. Conservation Framework Summary: Adiantum capillus-veneris. B.C. Minist. of Environment. Victoria, B.C. (Accessed July 7, 2011).
COSEWIC. 2011. COSEWIC status appraisal summary on the Southern Maidenhair Fern Adiantum capillus-veneris in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. xii pp.
COSEWIC. 2000. COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the Southern Maidenhair Fern Adiantum capillus-veneris in Canada. Committed on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. 1-5 pp.
Government of Canada. 2009. Species at Risk Act Policies, Overarching Policy Framework [Draft]. Species at Risk Act Policy and Guidelines Series. Environment Canada. Ottawa. 38 pp.
NatureServe. 2011. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. (Accessed: July 7, 2011).
Southern Maiden-hair Fern Recovery Team. 2007. Recovery Strategy for the southern maiden-hair fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris) in British Columbia. Prepared for the B.C. Ministry of Environment, Victoria, BC. 17 pp.
Waterline Resources Inc. 2007. Assessment of thermal springs at the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort British Columbia. Technical report WL07-1245, submitted to Fairmont Hot Springs Resort by Waterline Resources Inc., Calgary Alberta, May 4, 2007.
In Canada, Southern Maidenhair Fern has been recorded from one location on non-federal land (Fairmont Hot Springs, British Columbia, Figure A1).
Figure A1. Area containing critical habitat for Southern Maidenhair Fern, near Fairmont Hot Springs, British Columbia. The polygon indicates an area of 9.4 ha. Existing anthropogenic features within the indicated polygon, including running surface of active roads, houses, and the associated developed urban and residential landscape, are not identified as critical habitat.
[Footnotes – Part 1]
1 Hot spring water flows at Fairmont Hot Springs are dynamic, subject to dramatic fluctuations from year to year. The specific causes of these fluctuations are unknown, and may be cumulative, i.e., owing to human activities, and/or natural meteorological and geological causes operating at landscape (e.g. watershed), site-level and local scales.
2 “Populations” are characterized as being separated by >1 km, and “sub-populations” represent records of individuals, or patches of individuals, that are within 1 km of each other.
3 Critical function zone distance has been defined as the threshold habitat fragment size required for maintaining constituent microhabitat properties for a species (e.g., critical light, moisture, humidity levels necessary for survival). Existing research provides a logical basis for suggesting a minimum critical function zone distance of 50 m is identified as critical habitat for all rare plant species occurrences.
4 “Distinct” ecological, or landscape features are here referred to as those that are distinguishable at a landscape scale (through use of detailed ecosystem mapping or aerial photos), which, at that scale, appear as ecologically contiguous features with relatively distinct boundaries (e.g., cliffs, banks, or slopes, drainage basins, seepage plateaus, or distinct vegetation assemblages), and which comprise the context for a species occurrence.
PART 2: Recovery Strategy for the southern maiden-hair fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris) in British Columbia, prepared by the Southern Maiden-hair Fern Recovery Team for the B.C. Ministry of Environment
Recovery Strategy for the southern maiden-hair fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris) in British Columbia
Prepared by the Southern Maiden-hair Fern Recovery Team
Table of Contents [Part 2]
- Recovery Team Members
- Responsible Jurisdictions
- Executive Summary
- Recovery Feasibility
- Recovery Goal
- Recovery Objectives
- Approaches Recommended to Meet Recovery Objectives
- Performance Measures
- Critical Habitat
- Existing and Recommended Approaches to Habitat Protection
- Effects on Other Species
- Socioeconomic Considerations
- Recommended Approach for Recovery Implementation
- Statement on Action Plans
List of Tables
- Table 1. Population data for southern maiden-hair fern in Canada
- Table 2. Recovery Planning Table
- Table 3. Provincial and national Status of eight rare plants inventoried at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort in 2002
List of Figures
- Figure 1. Taxonomic illustration of southern maiden-hair fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris)
- Figure 2. Distribution of southern maiden-hair fern in North America
- Figure 3. southern maiden-hair fernat Site H
About the British Columbia Recovery Strategy Series
This series presents the recovery strategies that are prepared as advice to the Province of British Columbia on the general strategic approach required to recover species at risk. The province prepares recovery strategies to meet our commitments to recover species at risk under the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk in Canada, and the Canada – British Columbia Agreement on Species at Risk.
What is recovery?
Species at risk recovery is the process by which the decline of an endangered, threatened, or extirpated species is arrested or reversed, and threats are removed or reduced to improve the likelihood of a species’ persistence in the wild.
What is a recovery strategy?
A recovery strategy represents the best available scientific knowledge on what is required to achieve recovery of a species or ecosystem. A recovery strategy outlines what is and what is not known about a species or ecosystem; it also identifies threats to the species or ecosystem, and what should be done to mitigate those threats. Recovery strategies set recovery goals and objectives, and recommend approaches to recover the species or ecosystem.
Recovery strategies are usually prepared by a recovery team with members from agencies responsible for the management of the species or ecosystem, experts from other agencies, universities, conservation groups, aboriginal groups, and stakeholder groups as appropriate.
In most cases, one or more action plan(s) will be developed to define and guide implementation of the recovery strategy. Action plans include more detailed information about what needs to be done to meet the objectives of the recovery strategy. However, the recovery strategy provides valuable information on threats to the species and their recovery needs that may be used by individuals, communities, land users, and conservationists interested in species at risk recovery.
For more information
To learn more about species at risk recovery in British Columbia, please visit the Ministry of Environment Recovery Planning webpage.
Recovery Strategy for the southern maiden-hair Fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris) in British Columbia
Prepared by the Southern Maiden-hair Fern Recovery Team
Southern Maiden-hair Fern Recovery Team. 2007. Recovery strategy for the southern maiden-hair fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris) in British Columbia. Prepared for the B.C. Ministry of Environment, Victoria, BC. 17 pp.
Additional copies can be downloaded from the B.C. Ministry of Environment Recovery Planning web page
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication Data Southern Maiden-hair Fern Recovery Team.
Recovery strategy for the Southern maiden-hair fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris) in British Columbia [electronic resource]
(British Columbia recovery strategy series)
Available on the Internet.
Includes bibliographical references: p.
1. Maidenhair ferns - British Columbia. 2. Wildlife recovery - British Columbia. 3. Endangered plants – British Columbia. I. British Columbia. Ministry of Environment. II. Title.
QK524.A29 S68 2007 b587’.3 C2007-960241-X
Content (excluding illustrations) may be used without permission, with appropriate credit to the source.
This recovery strategy has been prepared by the Southern Maiden-hair Fern Recovery Team, as advice to the responsible jurisdictions and organizations that may be involved in recovering the species. The British Columbia Ministry of Environment has received this advice as part of fulfilling its commitments under the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk in Canada, and the Canada – British Columbia Agreement on Species at Risk.
This document identifies the recovery strategies that are deemed necessary, based on the best available scientific and traditional information, to recover southern maiden-hair fern populations in British Columbia. Recovery actions to achieve the goals and objectives identified herein are subject to the priorities and budgetary constraints of participatory agencies and organizations. These goals, objectives, and recovery approaches may be modified in the future to accommodate new objectives and findings.
The responsible jurisdictions and all members of the recovery team have had an opportunity to review this document. However, this document does not necessarily represent the official positions of the agencies or the personal views of all individuals on the recovery team.
Success in the recovery of this species depends on the commitment and cooperation of many different constituencies that may be involved in implementing the directions set out in this strategy. The Ministry of Environment encourages all British Columbians to participate in the recovery of the southern maiden-hair fern.
Southern Maiden-hair Fern Recovery Team
Ted Antifeau (Chair), B.C. Ministry of Environment
Gail Berg, B.C. Ministry of Forests and Range (retired)
Brenda Costanzo, B.C. Ministry of Environment
George Douglas, Consultant (deceased)
Dave Fraser, B.C. Ministry of Environment
Larry Halverson, Parks Canada
Ted Lea, B.C. Ministry of Environment
Darrell Smith, B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and Lands
Shyanne Smith (Douglas Ecological Consultants) and recovery team members (see above).
The British Columbia Ministry of Environment is responsible for producing a recovery strategy for the southern maiden-hair fern under the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk in Canada. Environment Canada’s Canadian Wildlife Service and Parks Canada Agency participated in the preparation of this recovery strategy.
This document was prepared by Shyanne Smith of Douglas Ecological Consultants, in conjunction with the Southern Maiden-hair Fern Recovery Team. The recovery team acknowledge the cooperation of Carol Seable (President, Fairmont Hotsprings Resort Ltd.) and staff, especially Cathy deGuise (Grounds Manager), and Mrs. Wilder, who provided access to and background information regarding the southern maiden-hair fern sites and participated in fieldwork and in discussions on conservation of the species. Peter Achuff of Parks Canada Agency has reviewed the draft recovery strategy.
Funding was provided by the B.C. Ministry of Environment. A special thanks to all participants for their assistance and/or comments towards the preparation of this recovery strategy.
The southern maiden-hair fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris) is only known in Canada on private lands at Fairmont Hot Springs in the Columbia valley of southeastern British Columbia, more than 1000 km north of its main range. There is one extant population consisting of two extant subpopulations. This species is found on tufa (calcium carbonate) rock faces at the edges of hot mineral water flows, where the hot water creates a warm, humid microclimate. The southern maiden-hair fern subpopulations at Fairmont Hot Springs are very susceptible to subtle changes in hot springs water diversion and temperature changes.
Thought to be extirpated from British Columbia in the 1960s, a southern maiden-hair fern population was found in 1974 at Fairmont Hot Springs, and the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) designated the species as “endangered” in 1984. In 2000, 2001 and 2002, field surveys confirmed the presence of four southern maiden-hair fern sites at Fairmont Hot Springs. Re-assessments by COSEWIC in 1998 and 2000 confirmed the “endangered” designation. This species is listed on the Species at Risk Act Schedule 1, and ranked as critically imperiled (S1) in British Columbia.
The goal for southern maiden-hair fern is to maintain a viable and self-sustaining population distributed throughout the present subpopulations to reduce the risk of extirpation from British Columbia.
The objectives for the recovery strategy are to: 1) Maintain a viable subpopulation at two extant sites at Site H and at Site B; 2) To enhance the subpopulation at Site B to increase subpopulation sizes; and to 3) Investigate feasibility of re-establishing subpopulations at sites A and F, and conduct re-introduction trials. If re-establishment is determined to be feasible, initiate transplantation trials at Sites A and F.
Four primary strategies have been identified to achieve these objectives:
- habitat protection/stewardship approach
- communication and outreach
- population and water monitoring
Recovery actions could affect the following socio-economic sectors: land development and recreational users. The expected magnitude of these effects is unknown and will be further addressed in the recovery action plan.
No critical habitat, as defined under the federal Species at Risk Act (Environment Canada 2004), is proposed for identification at this time. It is expected that critical habitat will be proposed within a recovery action plan following: 1) consultation and development of options with affected land mangers; and 2) completion of outstanding work required to quantify specific habitat and area requirements for these species.
The southern maiden-hair fern is a member of the Adiantaceae family. It is a delicate, drooping, pale-green fern of wet, calcareous, rocky sites with short (15–30 cm) fronds on a black stipe (leaf stalk) and rachis (main stalk); the few pinnae (leaflets) are divided into widely separated, fan-shaped pinnules (secondary leaflet) with crescent-shaped indusia (covering over the sporangia) at regular intervals along pinnule margins (Figure 1). The rhizome (underground stem) is short and creeping with slender, brown scales.
Globally, the southern maiden-hair fern is widely distributed in warm regions, including the southern United States, Mexico, South America, South Africa, Australia, and parts of Eurasia.
Southern maiden-hair fern is common across the southern United States (Figure 2; Lellinger 1985). Disjunct populations are found north to British Columbia and South Dakota (Paris 1993). The species is ranked as secure both globally (G5) and in the United States (N5) by NatureServe (2007). Its status is not ranked in 15 states where it occurs, and is ranked as apparently secure, vulnerable, or imperiled in seven states. It is critically imperiled (S1) in South Dakota, and presumed extirpated from Virginia. It is ranked as critically imperiled within Canada (N1) and British Columbia (S1), where it is also on the B.C. Conservation Data Centre’s “Red list.” In most of its range, southern maiden-hair fern occurs on shaded, moist rocky sites on porous, calcareous rock, including tufa, masonry, and other soft limy rocks (Wherry 1978).
At Fairmont Hot Springs where the one extant population (with two extant subpopulations) occurs, southern maiden-hair fern has never been observed more than 10–40 cm from hot, running, mineral rich water. The original subpopulation at the bathhouse occurs on a low tufa wall (1.8 m high) in a sheltered trench. This trench was excavated in about 1911 to permit construction of a stone bathhouse, which is still informally used. Nearby, hot springs water creates a continuously very warm, very humid microclimate. Southern maiden-hair fern grows here with a few other vascular plant species. Two larger, more vigorous subpopulations, which were discovered in 2000 and 2001, grow alongside pools. The fourth subpopulation occurs below a seepage bank.
In 2002, an extensive survey of rare plants at the Fairmont Hot Springs property resulted in the confirmation of four subpopulations of southern maiden-hair fern (Table 1). The original subpopulation at the bathhouse (Site A in Table 1) had declined to two fronds. Of the newly found subpopulations, the upper slope subpopulation (Site B) had 36–50 fronds located on a small bank above a hot springs pool. The midslope subpopulation (Site F) had only two healthy fronds, among dried plants, at a mostly dry hot springs seepage site. The latter site seemed to have dried up considerably since October 2001, when over 500 fronds were found at the site (T. Antifeau, pers. comm., 2005). The lower slope subpopulation (Site H) had about 33,600 fronds on a narrow bench with significant tufa buildup in a flat hot springs seepage area (Figure 3).
The number of fronds at these four subpopulations totals approximately 33 700. Monitoring of fronds at Site A indicates that the frond size has declined markedly and the plants appear to be suffering from reduced hot water flow and increased competition from other herbaceous species (Brunton 1984). It is believed that the decreased flow changed the microclimate around the colony, resulting in a lower carrying capacity for the site as well as a decline in the reproductive ability of the fern. As the other three subpopulations have just recently been discovered, little is known about their history.
The bathhouse (Site A) and midslope (Site F) subpopulations of southern maiden-hair fern at Fairmont Hot Springs are small and were declining; as of 2005, they were extirpated. Hydrological studies are required to determine whether the current hot spring water supplying these sites has been affected in any way. The two other remaining southern maiden-hair fernsubpopulation localities (Sites B and H), apparently have sufficient natural hot water flow at adequate temperatures to allow persistence of the subpopulations.
Southern maiden-hair fern requires a restricted habitat -- a very humid, continuously warm microclimate on a porous, highly calcareous substrate. In Canada, such habitats are rare (McDonald et al. 1981). The only known Canadian southern maiden-hair fern population occurs at Fairmont Hot Springs in British Columbia, more than 1000 km north of its main range. In this northern location, southern maiden-hair fernrequires a rock substrate of tufa over which hot water from natural hot springs flows. The other widely disjunctive station in North America is in the Black Hills, South Dakota, and also occurs at a hot spring (Dorn and Dorn 1972). The species requires very humid, warm (year-round) calcareous sites, probably with little competition from other plants, to survive in these disjunct northern locations (Brunton 1984).
The climate is classified as a Koppen climate, type H, Highland climate (Strahler 1969). No data are available on the region’s macroclimate. The local hot spring climate at Fairmont Hot Springs is modified by hot springs water having a temperature of 48.9°C (Macdonald et al. 1981). This microclimate is warm year-round and humid. Hoshizaki (1970) states that southern maiden-hair fern can withstand winter temperatures to 28°F (–2°C) occasionally, but dies when temperatures decline below 0°F (–18°C). Temperatures at the site stay above –18°C year-round, and probably are considerably warmer than that since little evidence of winter dieback has been noted. Recent water temperatures at the southern maiden-hair fern sites, measured by L. Halverson (pers. comm., 2003), had readings of 29, 31, 38, and 25–30°C at Sites A, B, F, and H, respectively. The fronds of southern maiden-hair fern at Site A were reported to be smaller in 1982 than in 1977 -- perhaps indicating poorer growth because of lower water temperatures (Brunton 1984). McDonald et al. (1981) states that the water at Fairmont Hot Springs has a pH of 7.0, and is without the strong hydrogen sulfide odour so evident at other British Columbia and Alberta hot springs.
The Canadian occurrence for this species is within the Continental Range of Rocky Mountain Trench section of the Cordilleran Region (Bostock 1967). These mountains are characterized by linear ranges with huge cliffs and carbonate strata (Bostock 1970). The Fairmont Hot Springs site is on massive tufa deposits over dolomite bedrock at approximately 1000 m above sea level on the western flank of the steep-sided, glaciated mountains. The site was glaciated repeatedly during the Wisconsin era, although the exposed tufa surface was built up after the glaciation. A series of underground hot water springs, rich in calcium carbonate, run through the tufa deposit. The site slopes steeply to the west–southwest. There is no soil development, since the rate of tufa deposition exceeds that of soil formation. The sites are entirely porous calcium-carbonate rock, precipitated from the hot springs water.
The deposition of additional tufa at the Fairmont Hot Springs sites creates further habitat adjacent to the springs but also destroys some areas where southern maiden-hair fernmay grow. The species seems capable of colonizing such situations rapidly and may require this change. The continued formation of bare rock face at the hot springs by tufa precipitation from the mineral spring water may allow this rapid colonizer to escape competing vascular plants. The sites are sparsely vegetated, except for older flows, which are covered with a rich diversity of shrubs and herbs. Historically, southern maiden-hair fern was common, but not dominant, within the confines of the Fairmont Hot Springs location. Early reports by Eastham (1949) suggest that it was dominant along hot spring runnels at sites no longer in existence. The survival ofsouthern maiden-hair fern depends totally on a constant flow of hot water from the Fairmont Hot Springs.
Observations indicate that the flow of hot springs water on the property has always been a dynamic phenomenon. Therefore, all tufa-dependent vascular plants can be expected to have dramatic population fluctuations over time. Although southern maiden-hair fern can apparently withstand physical alteration to its growing site, alterations to its humid, continuously warm microclimate could be fatal.
There is no known ecological role.
Southern maiden-hair fern reproduces from spores as well as vegetatively. Both sterile and fertile fronds have been observed at Fairmont between 1977 and 2002, although there were no fertile fronds in 1982. At that time, Brunton (1984) suggested that there was no outbreeding and that “inbreeding and cloning were unknown.” It is currently unknown what type of propagation is predominant. Vegetative growth has been reported to potentially occur rapidly in the species, covering areas of approximately 2 m² in less than 15 years (Brunton 1986). Overall, when hot water sources are abundant, southern maiden-hair fern reproduces quickly and abundantly. Without hot mineral water at the Fairmont Hot Springs sites, the species dies out very quickly (Brunton 1984).
The fronds wilt quickly at first frost (Brunton 1984), although southern maiden-hair fern is reported to survive occasional winter temperatures as low as –2°C (Hoshizaki 1970). The fern likely only occurs at Fairmont Hot Springs because of the presence of hot spring water, which ameliorates the local microclimate and creates the tufa substrate. Without the hot water, the fern probably could not survive at this latitude.
Three factors have been identified as potential threats to the southern maiden-hair fern population, all related to human activities: (1) habitat loss and degradation through the alteration of hot springs water flow; (2) habitat loss and degradation due to physical development; and (3) collection and trampling. These three factors may contribute to the loss and degradation of the habitat critical to the fern’s survival. Other potential threats to the southern maiden-hair fernpopulation at Fairmont Hot Springs are unknown. The effects of disease, pests, and pathogens have not been observed, and hybridization is unknown in the genus Adiantum (Hoshizaki 1970).
- 1. Alteration of hot spring water flow
Maintenance of hot spring water flow is required to ensure survival of the population of southern maiden-hair fern, as the resulting microclimate is what allows the species to survive so far north of its usual range. Any mechanical development (e.g., enlargement of trenches, water ways, diversion of natural spring waters, or further development of the resort) conducted without careful planning and measures to avoid disrupting the hot spring hydrology could have negative effects on the southern maiden-hair fernsites at Fairmont Hot Springs.
The president of Fairmont Hot Springs Resort indicates that the current enclosed piping of the natural spring water to present-day recreational pools has been in place since the 1960s, but this piping is far from and of no obvious threat to the known southern maiden-hair fern population. Hydrological studies may be required to understand and maintain underground hot water flow to prevent alteration of water flow to the southern maiden-hair fern population.
- 2. Physical development
Individual plants and habitat could be damaged by construction activities or expansion of resort facilities including buildings or bathing pools. With knowledge of southern maiden-hair fern sites, any maintenance of existing facilities or future expansion of the resort facilities can be planned to include protection of southern maiden-hair fern habitat. The owners of the property are aware of the fern sites.
- 3. Collection and trampling or inadvertent site damage
Since the sites are not protected by fencing, there is a danger of trampling from human traffic or collection of the species.
The property at Fairmont Hot Springs is privately owned. The management and stewardship responsibility of the property rests with the owners. At present, no formal conservation plans are in place in relation to southern maiden-hair fernhabitat. Discussion on stewardship agreements with the property owners is underway, and the owners have assisted the recovery team in exploring other sites and conducting fieldwork on the existing sites.
To date, there have been no formal recovery efforts taken. However, the landowners have been contacted and alerted to the presence and importance of the species and sites. They have been cooperative and receptive to suggestions toward protecting the sites.
The Southern Maiden-hair Fern Recovery Team has been established to carry out the actions recommended in this recovery strategy.
To accurately identify recovery objectives and activities, the following areas should be investigated:
- additional inventory for other populations of southern maiden-hair fern, or potential suitable habitat;
- research on reproduction requirements, and longevity, and habitat attributes such as water temperature, substrate type and pH, humidity, etc.;
- research on species biology, including demography, population trend, and genetics;
- research on ground water flow and geothermal characteristics of the habitat; and
- research on translocation methodology.
Recovery of southern maiden-hair fern is considered technically and biologically feasible. Being an early succession species in the hot springs habitat, southern maiden-hair fern can reproduce quickly, and individuals capable of reproduction are available. With the current habitats available, this species is not likely to increase in population number or size; however, the available habitats where thermal spring water flows are adequate to support the species. If recovery actions, to be fully developed in cooperation with the landowners, are successful, the threats outlined can be mitigated. A high recovery priority needs to be given to this species. It could easily be extirpated unless mitigative and protective measures are initiated. If the sites and thermal spring flows remain undisturbed, subpopulations should remain stable. The primary recovery techniques relate to threat reduction, and are known to be effective: maintenance of habitat and associated conditions, and preventing damage to individual plants.
The goal for southern maiden-hair fern is to maintain a viable and self-sustaining population distributed throughout the known subpopulations to reduce the risk of extirpation from British Columbia.
The objectives to be done in conjunction with the landowners, are to (refer to Table 1 in previous section for sites):
The objectives for the recovery are to:
- Maintain a viable subpopulation at two extant sites at Site H and at Site B;
- To enhance the subpopulation at Site B to increase subpopulation sizes; and to
- Investigate feasibility of re-establishing subpopulations at sites A and F, and conduct re-introduction trials. If re-establishment is determined to be feasible, initiate transplantation trials at Sites A and F.
Four primary strategies are suggested to ensure that the recovery objectives are met and threats are addressed.
Table 2 summarizes the threats, broad strategies, and recommended approaches for the objectives. The following are the four main broad strategies:
Habitat protection and stewardship
All subpopulation localities where southern maiden-hair fern occurs or recently occurred could be included as potential components of landowner stewardship agreements. The establishment of stewardship agreements and information exchange with the property owners are necessary to the success of any recovery actions, and require the cooperation of the landowners. The recovery team should be available to offer advice to the landowners to help them make informed decisions.
The recovery team, in conjunction with the landowners, needs to assess the desirability and the methods of providing physical protection for the plant subpopulations. This could include such actions as installing fencing, or other barriers to prevent access to the sites or the development of interpretive trails at some of the sites.
Communication and outreach
The recovery team, in conjunction with the landowners, will assess the desirability of establishing signage and interpretative trails, as well as the need for educational material on the species for the general public. As well, an interpretive centre or display at the resort’s commercial pools should be considered, in conjunction with the landowners.
Population and water monitoring
Regular monitoring will help determine survival and growth of individuals in all known subpopulation localities. The subpopulation parameters should be monitored at all sites at Fairmont Hot Springs. The health of all subpopulations should also be determined and monitored; this includes the effects of disease, pests, and pathogens; competition by other vascular plants; and alterations in the flow of hot spring water due to natural and artificial causes. Water characteristics should be monitored regularly.
The recovery team will consider the feasibility and requirement for transplantation of southern maiden-hair fern at existing sites if subpopulations are no longer viable. If required, the recovery team will determine where suitable habitat is available that can be protected through stewardship agreements or other mechanisms.
An ex situ program forsouthern maiden-hair fern may be considered, including the preservation of genetic stock.
Recovery planning table
Performance measures should include:
- Increases in subpopulation size, number, or subpopulation trend at Site H and Site B.
- Enhancement of subpopulation at Site B is determined to be feasible, and population enhancement is initiated.
- Re-establishment of subpopulations at Site A and F is determined to be feasible, and re-introduction trials are initiated.
The Species at Risk Act defines critical habitat as “the habitat that is necessary for the survival or recovery of southern maiden-hair fern” (Environment Canada et al. 2004).
No critical habitat can be identified for southern maiden-hair fern in Canada at this time, due to a lack of information. It is expected that critical habitat will be identified following completion of outstanding work required to quantify specific habitat and area requirements for the species, as outlined in the schedule of studies below. In addition, there is a need for consultation and development of stewardship options with affected landowners.
The following outlines the additional research required to identify critical habitat for this species:
- Identify habitat attributes (e.g., soil texture, soil and water chemical properties, plant cover, water temperature) and population parameters (e.g., growth, reproduction, and survival rates). Suggested completion by 2010.
- For each occupied habitat, determine ground water flow and geothermal characteristics of the habitat and effects of any hydrological changes. Suggested completion by 2010.
- Using established survey and mapping techniques (applied during phenologically appropriate periods), establish the distribution and delimit the boundaries of all occupied habitats. Suggested completion by 2010.
- Identify anticipated threats to habitat areas and recommend general or specific measures that can be employed to protect them from such threats. Suggested completion by 2010.
- Through experimental trials, test the suitability of high-ranking sites for plant translocations/reintroductions. Suggested completion by 2010.
The species is found at one location on private land with two known subpopulations. As such, a stewardship approach will continue to be taken when working with the landowners to protect this species. To date, the landowners have been cooperative.
For successful implementation of species at risk protection, there will be a strong need to engage in stewardship on a variety of land tenures, and in particular on private land. Stewardship involves the voluntary cooperation of landowners to protect species at risk and the ecosystems they rely on. The preamble to the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) recognizes that “stewardship activities contributing to the conservation of wildlife species and their habitat should be supported” and that “all Canadians have a role to play in the conservation of wildlife in this country, including the prevention of wildlife species from becoming extirpated or extinct.” The Canada – British Columbia Agreement on Species at Risk also recognizes that: “stewardship by land and water owners and users is fundamental to preventing species from becoming at risk and in protecting and recovering species that are at risk” and that “cooperative, voluntary measures are the first approach to securing the protection and recovery of species at risk.”
Stewardship approach for private lands
Since many species at risk occur only or predominantly on private lands, stewardship efforts will be the key to their conservation and recovery. To successfully protect many species at risk in British Columbia, there will have to be voluntary initiatives by landowners to help maintain areas of natural ecosystems that support these species of risk. Examples of this stewardship approach include following guidelines or best management practices to support species at risk; voluntarily protecting important areas of habitat on private property; establishing conservation covenants on property titles; eco-gifting of private property, in whole or in part; and selling private property to protect certain ecosystems or species at risk. For example, both government and non-governmental organizations have successfully partnered with private landowners to conserve private lands in B.C.
Many plant species are associated with southern maiden-hair fern on the Fairmont Hot Springs property. Any efforts to conserve southern maiden-hair fern are believed to be positive for maintenance of these species over the long term.
Common associated plant species include Juniperus horizontalis (creeping juniper), Epipactis gigantea (giant helleborine), Dichanthelium acuminatum var. fasiculatus (western witch grass), Carex scirpoidea (single-spike sedge), Muhlenbergia glomerata (marsh muhly), Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick), Aster laevis (smooth aster), Toxicodendron rydbergii (poison ivy),and Rosa acicularis (prickly rose).
Of the eight rare vascular plant taxa inventoried on the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort property in 2002; seven are considered Red or Blue-listed in British Columbia (Table 3). This is the only site known in the province for southern maiden-hair fern, Muhlenbergia andina (foxtail muhly), and Scirpus pallidus (pale bulrush). The remaining taxa are not restricted to this area of the province. Giant helleborine, which occurs at six of the eight rare plant sites at the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort (see Table 1), has been listed as Special Concern by COSEWIC (Brunton 1984; White and Douglas 1998b), and is on Schedule 3 of the federal Species at Risk Act. All rare plant sites at the Fairmont Hot Springs location are influenced by the hot springs and occur on moist to dry tufa formations.
In addition to rare vascular plants, there is at least one other rare element at Fairmont Hot Springs. The Vivid Dancer dragonfly (Argia vivida), Red-listed by the B.C. Conservation Data Centre, is known from the site. The hot springs have not been intensively searched for other invertebrates, thus it is possible that other rare insects or molluscs are present.
Recovery actions could potentially affect the following socio-economic sectors: land development and recreational users. The expected magnitude of these effects is unknown and will be further addressed in the recovery action plan.
Southern maiden-hair fern currently is found only at one location in Canada. The approach for recovery is a single-species strategy. There is potential to work with the East Kootenay Conservation Program (EKCP). The EKCP is a collection of 41 groups and agencies in the East Kootenay that develop and implement a strategy to promote habitat and ecosystem management for private land that complements management of Crown land in the region.
In consultation with the landowners, an action plan will be developed for southern maiden-hair fern by the year 2010.
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