Recovery Strategy for the Greater Short-horned Lizard (Phrynosoma hernandesi) in Canada – 2015

Species at Risk Act
Recovery Strategy Series

Greater Short-horned Lizard

Greater Short-horned Lizard (Phrynosoma hernandesi)

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Document Information

Cover photo
Cover illustration: © S. Pruss, Parks Canada Agency


 

Recommended citation:

Environment Canada. 2015. Recovery Strategy for the Greater Short-horned Lizard (Phrynosoma hernandesi) in Canada. Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series. Environment Canada, Ottawa. v + 45 pp.

For copies of the recovery strategy, or for additional information on species at risk, including the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) Status Reports, residence descriptions, action plans, and other related recovery documents, please visit the Species at Risk (SAR) Public Registry.

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

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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 five years after the publication of the final document on the SAR Public Registry.

The Minister of the Environment and Minister responsible for the Parks Canada Agency is the competent minister under SARA for the Greater Short-horned Lizard and has prepared this recovery strategy, as per section 37 of SARA. To the extent possible, it has been prepared in cooperation with the governments of Alberta and Saskatchewan and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

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 and Parks Canada Agency, or any other jurisdiction alone. All Canadians are invited to join in supporting and implementing this strategy for the benefit of the Greater Short-horned Lizard 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 Parks Canada Agency 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 recovery strategy sets the strategic direction to arrest or reverse the decline of the species, including identification of critical habitat to the extent possible. It provides all Canadians with information to help take action on species conservation. When the recovery strategy identifies critical habitat, there may be regulatory implications as SARA sets out a process to evaluate existing protection mechanisms under other Acts of Parliament and provincial and territorial legislation, and if necessary, to put in place additional protection under SARA.  For critical habitat located on federal lands outside of federal protected areas the Minister of the Environment must either report on existing legal protection or make an order to provide protection.  The Minister of the Environment will assess whether critical habitat is effectively protected on non-federal lands.  The discretion to protect critical habitat that is not effectively protected rests with the Governor in Council.

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Acknowledgments

The Recovery Strategy for the Greater Short-horned Lizard in Canada was prepared by Krista Fink (University of Alberta), Andrew Didiuk, Paul Knaga and John Conkin (Environment Canada); and Shelley Pruss (Parks Canada Agency). Thank-you to the following for their assistance in preparation of this recovery strategy: Bill Bristol (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada), Robert Sisson (Parks Canada Agency), Joel Nicholson (Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development), Jeanette Pepper and Matt Weiss (Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment), Larry Powell and Magdalene Leung (University of Calgary), and Janice James.

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Executive Summary

The Greater Short-horned Lizard (Phrynosoma hernandesi) is a small flattened lizard with a single row of white projecting scales fringing the edge of the body. It has a broad head with short stubby 'horns' that are separated at the center by a wide indented notch. Dorsal colouration varies slightly by region and is highly cryptic. The Greater Short-horned Lizard ranges throughout the Northern Great Plains as far south as central Mexico. In Canada, known populations are located in south-eastern Alberta and southwest Saskatchewan.

Greater Short-horned Lizard habitat is limited to areas lying between upland grassland and coulee bottoms and consists of rugged, sparsely vegetated slopes. The species also requires crumbly, well-drained soils which are important for overwintering as well as refuge during the night when they often burrow underground for thermal insulation.

The Greater Short-horned Lizard was designated Endangered in Canada in 2007 due to ongoing threats and its small and fragmented distribution in Canada. Threats faced by the Greater Short-horned Lizard include: conversion of native habitat to industrial infrastructure, creation of roads in native habitat, dams and irrigation development, conversion of native habitat to crop and forage production, invasion and establishment of exotic plants, inclement or extreme weather conditions, mortality from traffic and pets due to urban expansion, mortality from oil spills, and collection.

There are four general areas in Alberta and four general areas in Saskatchewan where local populations of Greater Short-horned Lizards are known to occur. There are likely additional local populations where suitable habitat exists but there have been no or insufficient survey efforts. 

Recovery of this species is biologically and technically feasible. The population and distribution objective for the Greater Short-horned Lizard is to maintain populations in all of the critical habitat polygons within the 8 currently known areas of occupancy of the species plus any new populations discovered in the future. Broad strategies to achieve recovery include: (1) habitat assessment, management, conservation and protection; (2) monitoring and assessment; (3) research; and (4) communication, collaboration and engagement.

Critical habitat for the Greater Short-horned Lizard, is partially identified to the extent possible in southeast Alberta and in southwest Saskatchewan based on best  available information on historical and recent site occupancy of lizards and habitat suitability. The critical habitat that is identified in this recovery strategy for the Greater Short-horned Lizard occurs within 539 quarter sectionsFootnote 1.

One or more Action Plans for the Greater Short-horned Lizard will be completed by 2018.

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Recovery Feasibility Summary

Under the Species at Risk Act (Section 40), the competent minister is required to determine whether the recovery of the listed species is technically and biologically feasible. Based on the following criteria established by the Government of Canada (2009) for recovering species at risk, recovery of the Greater Short-horned Lizard is considered to be technically and biologically feasible:

1. 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. There are numerous areas where Greater Short-horned Lizards are known to be successfully reproducing. Small clusters of individuals have persisted for decades suggesting long-term occupancy is possible even when local population size is small (L. Powell pers. comm. 2012).
2. Sufficient suitable habitat is available to support the species or could be made available through habitat management or restoration.
Yes. Existing occupied habitat is considered to be in suitable condition and is sufficient to support the species. In addition, many other areas of apparently-suitable habitat are currently unoccupied. Amount of suitable habitat is not considered to be limiting for this species.
3. The primary threats to the species or its habitat (including threats outside Canada) can be avoided or mitigated.
Yes. The conversion of native habitat to industrial infrastructure in Greater Short-horned Lizard habitat can be avoided or its effects can be mitigated. Appropriate land use planning can also manage the impact of road development.
4. Recovery techniques exist to achieve the population and distribution objectives or can be expected to be developed within a reasonable timeframe.
Yes. Recovery techniques are available to conserve and protect habitat, promote habitat stewardship, and support public education in order to decrease effects of important threats to the Greater Short-horned Lizard.

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1. COSEWICFootnote 2 Species Assessment Information

Date of Assessment:
April 2007
Common Name (population):
Greater Short-horned Lizard
Scientific Name:
Phrynosoma hernandesi
COSEWIC Status:
Endangered
Reason for Designation:
In Canada this species exists in less than 10 scattered locations that are severely fragmented. Most of these populations are threatened by ongoing oil and gas development, proliferation of roads, proposed mineral development, and an increasing human presence.
Canadian Occurrence:
Alberta and Saskatchewan
COSEWIC Status History:
Designated Special Concern in April 1992. Status re-examined and designated Endangered in April 2007.

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2. Species Status Information

The Greater Short-horned Lizard (Phrynosoma hernandesi, Girard 1858) has a global status of secure (G5, NatureServe 2013). The species is also considered secure (N5) in the United States and its status ranges from imperiled to secure (S2 to S5) within the 11 states that it occurs (NatureServe 2013). No conservation status has been applied in Mexico (NOM 2001). The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has ranked the Greater Short-horned Lizard as least concern with a stable population trend (IUCN 2010).

In Canada, the Greater Short-horned Lizard was listed as Endangered under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) in April 2007. The species is designated as  imperiled/vulnerable (N2N3) in Canada, imperiled in Alberta (S2) and imperiled/vulnerable (S2/S3) in Saskatchewan (NatureServe 2013). The species is listed as endangered by the province of Alberta, but it is not listed by the province of Saskatchewan. The Canadian range represents a small (<5%) proportion of the global range for this species (COSEWIC 2007), but it is likely less than 1%.

3. Species Information

3.1 Species Description

The Greater Short-horned Lizard is a small (50-70 mm), exceptionally cryptic, flat and wide-bodied lizard with short legs and many short horns on its head and body that give this species its common name (Powell and Russell 1985, Sherbrooke 2003). Dorsal colouration can be tan, yellow-brown, orange-brown, or reddish-brown depending upon the animal's surroundings since camouflage is the primary means of protection against predators (Alberta Sustainable Resource Development [ASRD] 2004, COSEWIC 2007). Greater Short-horned Lizards exhibit marked sexual dimorphism, with females growing considerably larger than males.

The Greater Short-horned Lizard is sometimes refered to as "Horny Toad" because of its round and stubby appearance and waddling gait (COSEWIC 2007), however, it is a reptile and it is the only lizard that occurs in Alberta and Saskatchewan. The Greater Short-horned Lizard, like other reptiles, regulates its body temperature by moving between sunny and shaded areas. However, unlike most lizards, the Greater Short-horned Lizard does not lay eggs, but rather, gives birth to up to 15 live young that begin to live independently shortly after birth (Sherbrooke 2003).

Greater Short-horned Lizards have been observed on the soil surface as late as the beginning of November, although most lizards appear to be below the surface by mid-September (Powell and Russell 1994, 1996, Fink unpubl. data). Greater Short-horned Lizards emerge in late April from overwintering sites and courtship and mating occurs shortly thereafter.

The predator defense strategy of the Greater Short-horned Lizard, remaining immobile, makes them particularly vulnerable to human harassment.

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3.2 Populations and Distribution

Greater Short-horned Lizards are endemic to and are widely distributed in the west-central arid and semi-arid grasslands and deserts of North America (Figure 1); extending throughout the Great Plains from the provinces of Chihuahua and Durango of south central Mexico north to the southernmost portions of the Canadian prairies (Russell and Bauer 2000, Sherbrooke 2003, Stebbins 2003, Hammerson 2007). There have been no known recent large-scale changes in the range of the species, which is believed to encompass between 200 000 – 2 500 000 km2 (NatureServe 2013). The true size of the range is difficult to define due to the patchy nature of the occurrence of this species, such that only a small portion of the total area is occupied. Of the 17 species within the genus Phrynosoma, the Greater Short-horned Lizard is the most widely distributed in terms of altitude and latitude and in terms of overall range (Sherbrooke 2003, Leaché and McGuire 2006).

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Figure 1. North American range of the Greater Short-horned Lizard (adapted from Hammerson 2007).

Map

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In Canada, Greater Short-horned Lizards are found in extreme southeast Alberta and extreme southwest Saskatchewan (Figure 2).  This represents the northern limit of its range where its distribution and abundance are limited by the cold climate (Sherbrooke 2003).

Greater Short-horned Lizards occur in four disjunct areas in southeast Alberta comprising approximately 2 162 km2 (Figure 2) These areas are: 1) the South Saskatchewan River valley (~639 km2); 2) the Chin Coulee/Forty Mile Coulee Complex (~231 km2); 3) the area east and south of Manyberries in the Pakowki Lake drainage (~ 387 km2); and 4) the valleys of the Milk River and Lost River (~ 905 km2) (Powell and Russell 1998, ASRD 2004). The largest area of continuous occupied habitat in Alberta is found south and east of the town of Manyberries along the southern fringe of the Cypress Hills (Powell and Russell 1998). Recent survey data indicates this region continues to support the largest population of Greater Short-horned Lizards in Alberta (ASRD 2004). There has been some reduction in the Alberta range (COSEWIC 2007).

Greater Short-horned Lizards occur in four disjunct areas of known occupancy in southwest Saskatchewan within and near Grasslands National Park, comprising approximately ~295 km2 (Figure 2). These areas are: 1) the northern portion of the West Block of Grasslands National Park (~192 km2 ); 2) the central portion of the West Block of Grasslands National Park (~33 km2); 3) the southern portion of the West Block of Grasslands National Park (~11 km2); and 4) the southern portion of the East Block of Grasslands National Park (~58 km2).

Canadian population size and trends

Population size for Greater Short-horned Lizards has been estimated in the four areas of occupancy in Alberta (ASRD 2004) using best available information from surveys conducted in 2001-2002. These estimates generated a total population size of 2,651 – 16,060 mature lizards for Alberta.

This population estimate is very tentative due to uncertainties of the proportion of suitable habitat which is occupied, and the actual densities of lizards within suitable habitat. These uncertainties arise from the small proportion of apparently suitable habitat which has been searched and the cryptic appearance and behaviour of the lizards, resulting in an unknown, but likely low, detection of presence during surveys.

In Saskatchewan there is also very limited information to determine population size, although it has been postulated that Greater Short-horned Lizard numbers may be lower than in Alberta (Powell et al. 1998). Surveys in the West Block of Grasslands National Park from 2008 – 2011 generated a population estimate of 5,200 – 8,320 mature individuals (K. Fink, unpub. data). This estimate is also very tentative due to the same uncertainties ascribed to the Alberta population estimate above.

Although it has been postulated that the Alberta population trend may be stable or declining, there is inadequate population information for either Alberta or Saskatchewan to evaluate population trend (COSEWIC 2007).

Figure 2. The potential range and distribution of areas of known occupancy of the Greater Short-horned Lizard in Canada. The known range in Alberta is comprised of four widely disjunct areas of known occupancy. The known range in Saskatchewan is comprised of four disjunct areas of known occupancy in and near Grasslands National Park. Additional localized areas of suitable habitat occupied by lizards may occur within the depicted potential range.

Map
Long description for Figure 2

Figure 2 shows the potential range and distribution of areas of known occupancy of the Greater Short-horned Lizard in Canada. The known range in Alberta is comprised of four widely disjunct areas of known occupancy. The known range in Saskatchewan is comprised of four disjunct areas of known occupancy in and near Grasslands National Park. Additional localized areas of suitable habitat occupied by lizards may occur within the depicted potential range.

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3.3 Needs of the Greater Short-horned Lizard

Throughout its range, the Greater Short-horned Lizard can be found in a variety of habitats including semiarid plains, shortgrass prairies, sagebrush deserts, shrubby plateaus, badlands, juniper, pine or fir forests, and in some mountainous areas (Sherbrooke 2003). In Canada, Greater Short-horned Lizards inhabit sparsely vegetated, south-facing slopes along eroded coulees, canyons, badlands, and ravines (Powell 1982, Powell and Russell 1985b, 1998, James 2002). Friable (crumbly, loose) soils or other penetrable substrates are important for overwintering as well as during the night when they burrow underground for thermal insulation. The dry badlands inhabited by the Greater Short-horned Lizard are characterized by low levels of precipitation, dramatic daily and seasonal temperatures changes, and high wind speeds (COSEWIC 2007).

Greater Short-horned Lizards inhabit the sparsely vegetated interface between upland grassland and coulee bottoms, particularly on south-facing slopes (Powell and Russell 1998, James 2002). These habitat characteristics occur in three different situations in Alberta: 1) the ecotone between upland prairie and coulee bottoms primarily in the Milk River Basin; 2) the rims of canyons and coulees with southern exposures in the northern marginal habitat along the South Saskatchewan River; and 3) Bearpaw shale dunes stabilized by mats of Creeping Juniper (Juniperus horizonatalis) in the south perimeter of the Cypress Hills plateau and east of Manyberries, Alberta .

Bearpaw shale dunes stabilized by mats of Creeping Juniper are also the primary habitat for Greater Short-horned Lizards in Saskatchewan ( Powell and Russell 1995, 1998, James 2002). The association of Greater Short-horned Lizard occurrences with Bearpaw shale habitat in Grasslands National Park suggests this substrate is important for persistence of lizard populations (Powell et al. 1998).

Greater Short-horned Lizards require certain micro-habitat characteristics for their thermal, foraging and shelter requirements. Their body size and shape make moving through dense vegetation difficult. Sparse vegetation provides intermittent shade and full sun for thermoregulation. While the majority of Greater Short-horned Lizard observations are on south-facing slopes, they occasionally can be found on east, west, and some north-facing slopes if sites with suitable microclimates are present (James 1997, James 2002, K. Fink unpubl. data).

The amount of space required by individual Greater Short-horned Lizards is generally small and they typically occupy small centers of activity. They occasionally move several hundred meters among these centers of activity, usually by a few larger-distance movements rather than a single movement (J. James pers. commun. 2012, K. Fink unpb. data). Greater Short-horned Lizards are not territorial and overlap between individual home ranges is not uncommon (Powell and Russell 1993, 1996, James 1997, K. Fink unpubl. data).

Greater Short-horned Lizards forage on a variety of invertebrates; ants, beetles, and grasshoppers are major components of their diet. Prey items typically do not exceed 6 mm in length (Powell and Russell 1984).

In Canada, Greater Short-horned Lizards exist at the northern limit of their range and therefore experience more extreme winter conditions during the hibernation period (e.g. longer duration, lower temperatures, greater snow depth and depth of frost) than they do in more southern localities. Greater Short-horned Lizards overwinter approximately 10 cm beneath the soil surface (L. Powell pers. comm. 2012). This behavior enables them to survive during periods of low winter temperatures which are thought to limit the northern distribution of the species. Overwintering sites are typically erosional wash banks with steep slopes, vegetation overhangs, and soft substrates (Powell and Russell 1994, Mathies and Martin 2008). This species may prefer south-facing slopes for overwintering (COESWIC 2007) but this was not observed in Grasslands National Park (K. Fink, unpubl. data). Overwintering lizards require adequate snow cover. Inadequate insulation during hibernation due to limited snow accumulation may contribute to overwintering mortality (Powell and Russell 1994, 1996).

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4. Threats

4.1 Threat Assessment

Table 1. Threat Assessment Table
ThreatSub ThreatLevel of ConcernNote a of Table 1ExtentOccurrenceFrequencySeverityNote b of Table 1Causal CertaintyNote c of Table 1
Habitat Loss or DegradationConversion of Native Habitat to Industrial InfrastructureMediumWidespreadCurrentContinuousMediumMedium
Habitat Loss or DegradationCreation of Roads in Native HabitatMediumWidespreadCurrentContinuousMediumMedium
Habitat Loss or DegradationDams and Irrigation DevelopmentLowLocalizedHistoric/
current
One-timeLowLow
Habitat Loss or DegradationConversion of Native Habitat to Crop and Forage ProductionLowLocalizedHistoric/
current
ContinuousLowMedium
Habitat Loss or DegradationHigh-intensity Prolonged GrazingLowLocalizedCurrentSeasonalLowLow
Changes in Ecological Dynamics or Natural ProcessInvasion and Establishment of Exotic PlantsLowWidespreadCurrentContinuousLowLow
Climate and Natural DisastersInclement or Extreme Weather ConditionsLowWidespreadAnticipatedContinuousHighLow
Accidental MortalityMortality from traffic, and from pets due to urban expansionLowLocalizedCurrentSeasonalLowMedium
PollutionMortality from Oil SpillsLowLocalizedCurrentContinuousLowLow
Biological Resource UseCollectionLowLocalizedCurrentSeasonalLowLow

Notes of Table 1

Note [a] of Table 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.

Return to note a referrer of table 1

Note [b] of Table 1

Severity: reflects the population-level effect (High: very large population-level effect, Moderate, Low, Unknown).

Return to note b referrer of table 1

Note [c] of Table 1

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).

Return to note c referrer of table 1

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4.2 Description of Threats

Conversion of Native Habitat to Industrial Infrastructure

Badland habitat is susceptible to erosion associated with surface disturbances typical of oil and gas exploration and development (Bradshaw et. al 1995). These include exploration activities (seismic lines, seismic testing), construction (roads, pipelines, facilities, power lines, staging areas), operations (drilling, compressor stations), decommissioning, and reclamation. Oil and gas development is intensive in the Manyberries badlands area of southeast Alberta in proximity to and within Greater Short-horned Lizard habitat. 

Within the four areas of occurrence of the Greater Short-horned Lizard in Alberta (Figure 2) there are 2,852 gas or well sites (1,529 active and 1,323 inactive), and within the four areas of occurrence in Saskatchewan (Figure 2) there are 6 gas or oil sites, all inactive (Environment Canada unpubl. data).

Direct loss or degradation of habitat can result from: clearing vegetation for new roads, well pads, pipelines, and production facilities; stripping and mixing of soil; soil compaction from heavy machinery during well drilling and possible localized soil contamination; provision of access into once inaccessible areas; (ERCB 1992; National Energy Board 1996, Cody et al. 2000). In addition, physical disturbances associated with building new infrastructure may alter the availability of certain insect prey (Cody et al. 2000). The impact of crude oil production is greater than that of natural gas production due to the need for all-weather gravel roads and daily transportation.  

Greater Short-horned Lizards may be attracted to well pads, perhaps due to slopes associated with the raised bed. Some well pads may act as sink habitat in these situations if mortality arises from vehicle traffic (J. James pers. comm. 2012). Also, above-ground infrastructure associated with wells create perches for avian predators (L. Powell pers. comm. 2012) and attract a variety of mammalian predators and snakes (Anonymous 1949, Tyler 1977, Sherbrooke 1991, James 1997, K. Fink pers. commun. 2012).

Proposed surface mining of ammolite in the range of the Greater Short-horned Lizard in southeast Alberta (COSEWIC 2004) would have the potential to destroy its habitat, and result in mortality of lizards. Replacement of existing substrates with alternative material during reclamation may limit the ability of Greater Short-horned Lizards to burrow into the substrate for overwintering or thermal maintenance (L. Powell pers. comm. 2012). Although such mining has been proposed, no such mines have been developed in Greater Short-horned Lizard habitat to date (J. Nicholson pers.comm 2013).

Creation of Roads in Native Habitat

Roads and trails created and used for oil and gas development and operation, and off-road trails created by recreational vehicle use, can disturb and destroy native habitat used by Greater Short-horned Lizards.

Dam and Irrigation Development

The creation of reservoirs or dams for irrigation may destroy Greater Short-horned Lizard habitat. This could occur during construction of a dam, its inlet channels, the associated structures and access roads, and the use of staging areas for equipment and excavated and stored construction materials. Dam and irrigation development may have caused some minor habitat degradation in a small portion of the Chin Coulee/Forty Mile Coulee region but the species have persisted there, suggesting this habitat damage was not as extensive as initially feared (Powell and Russell 1992, M. Leung pers. comm. 2012).

Conversion of Native Habitat to Crop and Forage Production

Cultivation of areas used by Greater Short-horned Lizards immediately adjacent to badland habitat results in direct loss of some foraging and dispersal habitat, as lizards may avoid crossing large areas of dense crops (e.g. alfalfa ) or recently cultivated fields with little cover. Conversion of native habitat to cropland has never been a serious threat to Greater Short-horned Lizards in Canada due to soil and terrain limitations for crop and forage production near the majority of lizard habitat.

Conversion of native habitat to Crested Wheatgrass (Agropyron cristatum) for cattle forage, can impede movements of Greater Short-horned Lizards along the periphery of their habitat (Powell and Russell 1994).

High-intensity Prolonged Grazing

Livestock grazing in Greater Short-horned Lizard habitat is thought to have a neutral impact or may even be beneficial by reducing areas of dense vegetation and increasing prey availability and travel lanes for lizards (Newbold and MacMahon 2008). However, in some situations extremely heavy grazing may have an adverse effect on Greater Short-horned Lizards. For example, Greater Short-horned Lizards have been found to occur less frequently in heavily grazed areas than in lightly grazed areas (Jones 1981). Negative impacts of high-intensity prolonged grazing may include:  reduction of vegetation structure which may be important for the species thermoregulation and habitat use; high nutrient additions which can greatly increase plant cover and impede Greater Short-horned Lizard movements (L. Powell pers. comm. 2012);  and compaction of soil up to 15 cm below the surface (Donkor et al. 2002), which degrades its quality for hibernation (Powell and Russell 1994).

Invasion and Establishment of Exotic Plants

Invasive plants, such as Downy Brome (Bromus tectorum), negatively impact other species of horned lizards by altering the structure and composition of the plant community (Newbold 2005), which may affect prey availability, micro-thermal conditions and the ability of lizards to travel. Under recent, moist conditions,Yellow Sweet-clover (Melilotus officinalis) has been increasing in occurrence throughout portions of the Canadian range of Greater Short-horned Lizards, including Grasslands National Park (S. Pruss  pers. comm. 2012). Clover can increase soil nitrogen which can facilitate the invasion of other more harmful plants. Road and trail access and traffic associated with oil and gas development and operation can lead to an increase in occurrence of weeds and invasive plant species.

Inclement or Extreme Weather Conditions

Climate change models predict increases in temperatures in the prairie grasslands but provide little insight into what will happen in terms of climate variability (Barrow 2009). Warmer summers could extend the active period for lizards, and result in enhanced condition of lizards and increased recruitment for local populations. If climate change brings more frequent bouts of extreme cold weather with reduced snow cover, over-winter survival of Greater Short-horned Lizards may be reduced (James 1997). Uncertainty regarding future climatic conditions, particularly any changes in temperature and precipitation among the seasons, results in uncertainty in the potential threat posed by climate change.

Mortality from Traffic and from Pets due to Urban Expansion

Traffic associated with roads and trails created and used for oil and gas development and operation, and off-road recreational vehicle use along trails, may cause direct mortality of Greater Short-horned Lizards that use roads and trails as dispersal corridors and of lizards which may be attracted to these more open surfaces as a source of heat when it is cold (L. Powell pers. comm 2012).

In local situations, occasional mortality may arise from urban expansion with its associated traffic and pet activity in proximity to Greater Short-horned Lizard habitat.

Mortality from Oil Spills

During oil development and operation there is a risk of mortality of Greater Short-horned Lizards from spills and soil contamination.

Collection

Greater Short-horned Lizards are easy to collect and are susceptible to collectors due to their slow-moving behavior. However this may only occur locally and infequently. It is illegal to collect Greater Short-horned Lizards in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Grasslands National Park.

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5. Population and Distribution Objectives

Occupancy by Greater Short-horned Lizards has been confirmed for only a small proportion of the apparently suitable habitat. However, attaining reasonably-accurate estimates of population size, at regional and national scales, would require intensive survey work owing to the low detectability of Greater Short-horned Lizards which is a consequence of their small size, cryptic behaviour, and low density in occupied habitats. Due to these uncertainties, population estimates for Alberta and Saskatchewan cannot be used as the basis for the population component of the population and distribution objectives for the species nor for measuring progress towards recovery. However, it is feasible to set a population and distribution objective based on maintaining the existence of extant populations and any populations that are confirmed in the future.

The population and distribution objective for the Greater Short-horned Lizard is to maintain populations in all of the critical habitat polygons within the 8 currently known areas of occupancy of the species plus any new populations discovered in the future. An appropriate measure of the current area of occupancy is the total area of all the polygons of critical habitat (see Section 7.1), calculated to be 132 km2  in Alberta and Saskatchewan combined, that are within the eight disjunct areas where the species is found (see Figure 2). This calculated area only includes suitable habitat as described in Section 7.1 and is derived from the most recent compilation of valid occurrence information with 94% of the records obtained since 1980. This area can easily be re-calculated based on new occurrence data, allowing future assessment of persistence or expansion of the area of confirmed occupancy to measure progress towards recovery (Didiuk et al. in prep.).

The species is, and likely has always been, rare and highly localized in Canada which represents the northern fringe of the species' global range. Thus there is no reasonable expectation that the Greater Short-horned Lizard could ever become abundant and common in Canada.

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6. Broad Strategies and General Approaches to Meet Objectives

6.1 Actions Already Completed or Currently Underway

Below is a brief summary of actions already completed or underway that will contribute to the recovery of the Greater Short-horned Lizard in Canada.

Monitoring and Assessment

  • Occupancy surveys have been conducted in the known range of the Greater Short-horned Lizard in southeast Alberta (Hornbeck and Green 1990, 1991, Powell and Russell 1991a, 1992, 1998, James 2002, 2003).
  • Occupancy surveys have been conducted in Grasslands National Park in southern Saskatchewan (Powell and Russell, 1995, 1998, Powell et al. 1998, K. Fink unpubl. data).

Habitat Assessment, Management, Conservation and Protection

  • A habitat suitability index was developed to prioritize areas for future surveys in southeast Alberta (Taylor 2004).
  • Habitat suitability models were developed for the West Block of Grasslands National Park in southern Saskatchewan (K. Fink unpub. data)
  • Alberta has placed Protective Notations Under the Public Lands Act for Greater Short-horned Lizard habitat in the Manyberries area. These notations can serve as a tool for conserving habitat for species at risk including the habitat of lizards.
  • Nature Conservancy Canada has purchased one property in Alberta where Greater Short-horned Lizards occur and operates the property as a conservation area.
  • Portions of Greater Short-horned Lizard habitat where the species occur on OneFour Rangeland Natural Area, Alberta have provisions for avoiding or minimizing impacts of some activities that could degrade or destroy the habitat.

Research

  • Ecological studies on Greater Short-horned Lizard diet, growth, thermal ecology, reproduction and wintering have been conducted in southeast Alberta (Powell 1982, Powell and Russell 1984, 1985a, 1985b, 1991, 1996, James 1997).
  • Movement studies have been conducted for Greater Short-horned Lizard populations  in southeast Alberta (Powell and Russell 1993b, 1994, 1996, James 1997) and in southern Saskatchewan (K. Fink unpub. data).
  • Current and historical genetic relationships of Greater Short-horned Lizard populations in southeast Alberta have been investigated (M. Leung 2012).

Communication, Collaboration and Engagement

  • A volunteer monitoring program was developed for Grasslands National Park (2008-2010).

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6.2 Strategic Direction for Recovery

Table 2. Recovery Planning Table.
StrategyThreat or LimitationPriorityNote d of Table 2General Description of Research and Management Approaches
Broad Strategy: Habitat Assessment, Management, Conservation and ProtectionConversion of Native Habitat to Industrial Infrastructure ; Invasion and Establishment of Exotic Plants; Creation of Roads in Native Habitat; Dams and Irrigation Development; Conversion of native habitat to crop and forage production; High-intensity prolonged grazingHigh
  • Development of beneficial management practices and stewardship agreements, focusing on habitat conservation and threat reduction.
  • Assess and report on effective protection of critical habitat on provincial crown and private land.
Broad Strategy: Monitoring and AssessmentMeasuring progress towards recoveryHigh
  • Conduct regular surveys of known occupied areas to determine changes in Greater Short-horned Lizard occupancy.
Broad Strategy: Monitoring and AssessmentKnowledge GapsHigh
  • Survey areas of unknown occupancy where habitat appears suitable to increase knowledge of areas of occupancy.
Broad Strategy: ResearchConversion of Native Habitat to Industrial Infrastructure ; Invasion and Establishment of Exotic Plants; Creation of Roads in Native Habitat; Dams and Irrigation Development; Conversion of native habitat to crop and forage production; High-intensity prolonged grazing; Inclement or Extreme Weather ConditionsMedium
  • Investigate wintering site requirements to assist in evaluating potential effects of climate change.
  • Examine movement and dispersal patterns for all age classes to identify habitat characterisitcs required to maintain connectivity among habitat patches
Broad Strategy: Communication,Collaboration and EngagementAll threatsMedium
  • Collaborate with multiple jurisdictions in Canada to facilitate delivery of conservation measures and inventory and monitoring activities .
  • Communicate information about Greater Short-horned Lizard management to land managers, oil and gas industry, land owners, visitors to Grasslands National Park, and the general public.

Priorities are defined as: High = top priority action; Medium = needed to evaluate and guide conservation actions; Low = action would be beneficial to the understanding of the species but is not immediately necessary for recovery.

Notes of Table 2

Note [d] of Table 2

"Priority" reflects the degree to which the broad strategy contributes directly to the recovery of the species or is an essential precursor to an approach that contributes to the recovery of the species

Return to note d referrer of table 2

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6.3 Narrative to Support the Recovery Planning Table

Habitat Assessment, Management, Conservation and Protection

Habitat for the Greater Short-horned Lizard in Alberta is located on private lands and provincial crown land, including areas of high- density oil and gas development. Greater Short-horned Lizard conservation is compatible with livestock grazing which is common throughout the range of the species. Stewardship practices which address location of industrial sites and associated vehicular traffic are required.

Monitoring and Assessment

Regular, surveys of occupied areas are needed to monitor occupancy trends. Furthermore, additional surveys are necessary in areas that appear to have suitable habitat but where occupancy by Greater Short-horned Lizards has not yet been confirmed.

Research

Additional information regarding wintering site selection is necessary to ensure protection of these micro-sites and to evaluate possible effects of climate change on Greater Short-horned Lizards. Developing spatially explicit quantitative habitat models using high resolution imagery will improve knowledge of spatially-explicit habitat requirements. Quantifying movement and dispersal patterns for all age classes is required to identify habitat characterisitcs necessary to maintain connectivity among habitat patches. Research is needed to assess detectability of Greater Short-horned Lizards in order to improve population estimates derived from surveys of the species.

Communication, Collaboration and Engagement

While Greater Short-horned Lizards are difficult to detect, they are easily captured, leaving them particularly susceptible to harassment.  Target audiences likely to encounter the animals are oil and gas industry employees working in the species' habitat, landowners, and visitors to Grasslands National Park. Collaboration and communication among jurisdictions will facilitate development and delivery of habitat protection programs and stewardship efforts that aim to reduce harassment as well as inventory and monitoring programs.

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7. Critical Habitat

7.1 Identification of the Species' Critical Habitat

Critical habitat for the Greater Short-horned Lizard is partially identified in this recovery strategy to the extent possible based on the best available information (Didiuk et. al. in prep). It is recognized that the critical habitat identified below is insufficient to achieve the population and distribution objective for the species. The schedule of studies (Table 3) outlines the activities required to identify additional critical habitat necessary to meet the population and distribution objectives of the species. There are a total of 805 reported occurrences of the Greater Short-horned Lizard in Canada, of which 763 occurrences had sufficient information to be used in the identification of critical habitat.

The biophysical attributes of critical habitat for the Greater Short-horned Lizard are:

  • badland or coulee terrain dominated by exposed substrates with loose soils suitable for shallow burrowing during the active season and deeper burrowing in winter, and minimal vegetation cover which provides thermal shelter in the active season; and
  • upland grassland within 100 m of edges of badland or coulee terrain to provide for local movements of Greater Short-horned Lizards for mate searching during the breeding season, for dispersal of Greater Short-horned Lizards among some patches of badland or coulee terrain, and for some limited foraging.

Critical habitat for the Greater Short-horned Lizard in Canada is identified based upon two approaches, described below. One approach was used at all localities known to be used by the species outside of the West Block of Grasslands National Park, while a habitat model approach was used for within and immediately adjacent to the West Block of Grasslands National Park. The rationale for using two different approaches was that a coupled, habitat-species occurrence model, suitable for the identification of the biophysical attributes of critical habitat, was available for use in identifying suitable habitat in the West Block of Grasslands National Park (K. Fink, unpubl. data). This model had not been developed for the remaining portion of the species Canadian range, necessitating a different, simpler approach in those areas.

Critical habitat identification in and near the West Block of Grasslands National Park used a habitat model that predicted where Greater Short-horned Lizards were likely to occur. Satellite imagery was used to detect suitable habitat features such as exposed mineral substrate and associated minimal vegetation cover. This information was then coupled with known occurrences of Greater Short-horned Lizards to create a model that predicted where lizards were likely to occur based on habitat characteristics (K. Fink unpubl. data). Suitable habitat that was associated with a moderate or high probability of occurrence of lizards according to the model, and that was within 500 m of known occurrences of the species, was identified as critical habitat. This approach identified three areas of occupancy containing 12 polygons of critical habitat (total 70.4 km2) in the West Block of Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, associated with 382 occurrences of the Greater Short-horned Lizard (Figure 3).

Critical habitat in and near the East Block of Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, and in southeast Alberta was identified based on the presence of the biophysical attributes for critical habitat and confirmed occurrences of the species. A circular polygon of 500 m radius was created for each occurrence to address daily and seasonal habitat requirements. Portions of each polygon not comprised of the  biophysical attributes (e.g. grass tablelands more than 100 m from badland habitat) were excluded from the polygon. In some cases proximity of occurrences resulted in overlapping polygons which were consolidated and considered to be a single local area (polygon) of critical habitat. In addition to grass tablelands beyond 100 m from badland habitat, unsuitable habitat such as permanent water bodies, wetlands, woodlands, and anthropogenic features such as buildings, farmyards, structures, high intensity agricultural areas, roads, and park visitor facilities such as parking lots, interpretative sites, recreation trails, day use sites and campgrounds do not possess the attributes required by the Greater Short-horned Lizard and are not identified as critical habitat, even when they occur within the polygons.

This approach identified, in the one area of occupancy in the East Block of Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, five polygons of critical habitat (total 6.6 km2) associated with 17 occurrences of the Greater Short-horned Lizard (Figure 3). In the four, disjunct areas of occupancy in southeast Alberta there were 51 polygons of critical habitat identified (total 55.1 km2) associated with 364 occurrences of the Greater Short-horned Lizard (Figures 4a, 4b, 4c, 5a and 5b).

The critical habitat polygons for the Greater Short-horned Lizard are presented in Figures 3, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b and 5c. Critical habitat for the Greater Short-horned Lizard in Canada occurs within the 1 km x 1 km Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) grid squares shown on each map, where the criteria and methodology described in this section for identifying critical habitat are met. The 277 quarter-sections within which the critical habitat occurs in southeast Alberta are listed in Appendix B. The 262 quarter-sections within which critical habitat occurs in southwest Saskatchewan are listed in Appendix C.

There was insufficient locational information to identify critical habitat for 41 occurrences of the Greater Short-horned Lizard in southeast Alberta (5, 18, 1 and 17 in the vicinity of the Milk River – Lost River, Manyberries, Chin Coulee – Forty Mile Coulee, and South Saskatchewan River Valley areas of occupancy, respectively). In Saskatchewan there was one occurrence without sufficient location information in the East Block of Grasslands National Park. Therefore, a schedule of studies, described below, outlines the activities required for identification of additional critical habitat needed to support the population and distribution objectives.

Figure 3. Greater Short-horned Lizard critical habitat, within and adjacent to Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, occurs within the shaded polygons where the criteria and methodology set out in Section 7.1 are met. The 1 km x 1 km UTM grid square overlays are part of a standard national grid system that highlights the general geographic area containing critical habitat.

Map
Long description for Figure 3

Figure 3 shows the Greater Short-horned Lizard critical habitat, within and adjacent to Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan occurs within the shaded polygons where the criteria and methodology set out in Section 7.1 are met. The 1 km x 1 km UTM grid square overlays are part of a standard national grid system that highlights the general geographic area containing critical habitat (Appendix C).

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Figure 4a. Greater Short-horned Lizard critical habitat, along the South Saskatchewan River north of Bow Island, Alberta, occurs within the shaded polygons where the criteria and methodology set out in Section 7.1 are met. The 1 km x 1 km UTM grid square overlays are part of a standard national grid system that highlights the general geographic area containing critical habitat.

Map
Long description for Figure 4a

Figure 4a shows the Greater Short-horned Lizard critical habitat ,along the South Saskatchewan River north of Bow Island, Alberta,, occurs within the shaded polygons where the criteria and methodology set out in Section 7.1 are met. The 1 km x 1 km UTM grid square overlays are part of a standard national grid system that highlights the general geographic area containing critical habitat (Appendix C).

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Figure 4b. Greater Short-horned Lizard critical habitat, along the South Saskatchewan River near Mediciine Hat, Alberta, occurs within the shaded polygons where the criteria and methodology set out in Section 7.1 are met. The 1 km x 1 km UTM grid square overlays are part of a standard national grid system that highlights the general geographic area containing critical habitat.

Map
Long description for Figure 4b

Figure 4b shows the Greater Short-horned Lizard critical habitat, along the South Saskatchewan River near Medicine Hat, Alberta, occurs within the shaded polygons where the criteria and methodology set out in Section 7.1 are met. The 1 km x 1 km UTM grid square overlays are part of a standard national grid system that highlights the general geographic area containing critical habitat (Appendix C).

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Figure 5a. Greater Short-horned Lizard critical habitat along Chin Coulee and Forty Mile Coulee, Alberta, occurs within the shaded polygons where the criteria and methodology set out in Section 7.1 are met. The 1 km x 1 km UTM grid square overlays are part of a standard national grid system that highlights the general geographic area containing critical habitat.

Map
Long description for Figure 5a

Figure 5a shows the Greater Short-horned Lizard critical habitat along Chin Coulee and Forty Mile Coulee, Alberta, occurs within the shaded polygons where the criteria and methodology set out in Section 7.1 are met. The 1 km x 1 km UTM grid square overlays are part of a standard national grid system that highlights the general geographic area containing critical habitat (Appendix B).

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Figure 5b. Greater Short-horned Lizard critical habitat along along the Milk River north of Aden, Alberta, occurs within the shaded polygons where the criteria and methodology set out in Section 7.1 are met. The 1 km x 1 km UTM grid square overlays are part of a standard national grid system that highlights the general geographic area containing critical habitat.

Map
Long description for Figure 5b

Figure 5b shows the Greater Short-horned Lizard critical habitat along the Milk River north of Aden, Alberta, occurs within the shaded polygons where the criteria and methodology set out in Section 7.1 are met. The 1 km x 1 km UTM grid square overlays are part of a standard national grid system that highlights the general geographic area containing critical habitat (Appendix B).

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Figure 5c. Greater Short-horned Lizard critical habitat in the Manyberries, Onefour and lower Milk River regions, Alberta, occurs within the shaded polygons where the criteria and methodology set out in Section 7.1 are met. The 1 km x 1 km UTM grid square overlays are part of a standard national grid system that highlights the general geographic area containing critical habitat.

Map
Long description for Figure 5c

Figure 5c shows the Greater Short-horned Lizard critical habitat in the Manyberries, Onefour and lower Milk River regions, Alberta, occurs within the shaded polygons where the criteria and methodology set out in Section 7.1 are met. The 1 km x 1 km UTM grid square overlays are part of a standard national grid system that highlights the general geographic area containing critical habitat (Appendix B).

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7.2 Schedule of Studies to Identify Critical Habitat

Sufficient location information is lacking for 42 reported occurrences of the Greater Short-horned Lizard and these occurrences could not be used in the identification of critical habitat. The following schedule of studies will address these gaps to enable a complete identification of critical habitat for the Greater Short-horned Lizard in Canada.

Table 3. Schedule of Studies to Identify Critical Habitat
Description of ActivityRationaleTimeline
Conduct surveys to confirm existence and location of Greater Short-horned Lizard populations and biophysical attributes of the habitat at or near the 42 reported occurrences without sufficient location informationBy using details provided by the original observers (e.g. habitat characateristics, directions) and using the biophysical attributes of suitable Greater Short-horned Lizard's habitat in combination with high resolution imagery, surveying of areas near the reported occurrences may detect and confirm the location of additional populations of Greater Short-horned Lizards.2015 - 2018

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7.3 Activities Likely to Result in the Destruction of Critical Habitat

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 (Government of Canada 2009).

Critical habitat for the Greater Short-horned Lizard is destroyed by alteration of soil structure and penetrability such that individuals can no longer use the above or-below ground environment for foraging, locomotion, communication, mating, escaping from predators, burying themselves, taking shelter, acquiring food items, carrying neonates, sunning, shading, or hibernating. Destruction of critical habitat may occur if the ground is excavated, in-filled, stabilized, heavily eroded, if the vegetation community or vegetation structure is altered, or if the thermal environment is modified. It should be noted that some activities may not destroy critical habitat in a single instance, but the combination and cumulative effect of multiple activities, or activities that are repeated over time or that are of long-duration, could have long-term destructive effects on critical habitat.

Examples of activities that are likely to result in destruction of critical habitat include, but are not limited to:

Compression, covering, inversion, flooding or excavation/extraction of soil. Greater Short-horned Lizards often burrow at night and hibernate immediately below the soil surface. Alterations to the soil surface, as described above, may negatively affect their ability to avoid predators, access night-time cover, or overwinter successfully. As low overwinter survival could limit recovery of this species, it is important to avoid activities that negatively influence hibernation. Examples of compression include the creation or expansion of  permanent/temporary structures, trails, roads, repeated motorized traffic, and activity that concentrates livestock and alters current patterns of grazing pressure such as spreading bales, building new corrals, adding more salting stations, or adding more water troughs. Examples of covering the soil include the creation or expansion of permanent/temporary structures, spreading of solid waste materials, or roadbed construction. Examples of soil inversion and/or excavation / extraction include new or expanded cultivation, sand and gravel extraction pits, dugouts, road construction, pipeline installation, and stripping of soil for new well pads or fireguards. Flooding from irrigation or dams, which is prolonged or permanent, will eliminate terrestrial habitat for the Greater Short-horned Lizard.

Removal or alteration of vegetation structure. Greater Short-horned Lizards rely on sparse vegetation to provide the necessary prey base as well as thermal patchiness necessary for effective thermoregulation. Alteration of vegetation structure by planting or otherwise encouraging the proliferation of non-native plants may destroy critical habitat by impeding movement and dispersal of Greater Short-horned Lizards or by creating excessive shade which hampers effective thermoregulation by Greater Short-horned Lizards. Those activities may also change nutrient availability, encouraging future succession of non-native plant species, which may also influence the prey base. Removal of excessive amounts of vegetation by activities such as the creation of new industrial infrastructure, road development, high-intensity, prolonged grazing and the creation of new dams and irrigation projects may destroy critical habitat by removing essential cover needed for shading and avoidance of predators as well as vegetation needed to support prey species.

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8. Measuring Progress

The performance indicator presented below provides a way to define and measure progress toward achieving the population and distribution objectives.

Progress towards meeting the population and distribution objectives must be reported within five years after this recovery strategy is finalized. Success of recovery strategy implementation will be measured against the following indicator:

  • Continued persistence of populations in all critical habitat polygons within all 8 areas of known occupancy, and any additionally discovered populations of Greater Short-Horned Lizards in southwest Saskatchewan and southeast Alberta.

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9. Statement on Action Plans

One or more action plans for the Greater Short-horned Lizard will be completed by 2018.

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10. References

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Barrow, E. 2009. Climate Scenarios for Saskatchewan. A Report Prepared for the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative (PARC) in co-operation with Saskatchewan Environment. 131 pp.

Barrows, C.S. and M.F. Allen. 2009. Conserving species in fragmented habitats: Population dynamics of the flat-tailed horned lizard, Phrynosoma mcallii. The southwest naturalist 54(3):307-316.

Beauchamp, B., B. Wone, S. Bros, and M. Kutilek. 1998. Habitat use of the Flat-tailed Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma mcalli) in a disturbed environment. Journal of Herpetology 32(2):210:216.

Blouin, F., B.L. Downey, B.A. Downey, S.L. Frank, D.J. Jarina, P.F. Jones, J.P. Landry-Deboer, and K.S. Rumbolt. 2010. MULTISAR: A Multi-Species Conservation Strategy for Species at Risk 2009-2010 Report. Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, Fish and Wildlife Division, Alberta Species at Risk Report No. 135, Edmonton, AB. 71 pp.

Bradshaw, D.A., A. Saxena, D.J. O'Leary, and J.A. Bentz. 1995. Biophysical overview, significant, sensitive and disturbance features of the Manyberries Sensitive Area. GeoWest Environmental Consultants Ltd. Report prepared for Land Information Division, Alberta Environmental Protection, Edmonton, AB. 88 pp.

Cody, W.J., MacInnes, K.L., Cayouette, J., Darbyshire, S. 2000. Alien and invasive native vascular plants along the Normal Wells Pipeline, District of Mackenzie, Northwest Territories. Canadian Field-Naturalist 114:126-137.

Debinski, D.M., and R.D. Holt. 2000. A survey and overview of habitat fragmentation experiments. Conservation Biology 14:342-355.

Didiuk, A., S. Pruss, Knaga, P., J. Conkin, L. Powell, K. Ellingson, M. Leung, J. James, J. Nicholson, B. Bristol and Matthew Weiss in prep. Greater Short-horned Lizard occurrences and critical habitat designation in Alberta and Saskatchewan.  CWS Technical Report Series, Canadian Wildlife Service, Saskatoon.

Donkor, N.T., J.V. Gedir, R.J. Hudson, E.W. Bork, D.S. Chansyk, and M.A. Naeth. 2002. Impacts of grazing systems on soil compaction and pasture production in Alberta. Canadian Journal of Soil Science 82(1): 1-8.

FWMIS. 2010. Alberta Provincial government database: Fish and Wildlife Management Information System – courtesy Joel Nicholson, Species at Risk Biologist, Edmonton, AB.

Government of Canada. 2009. (draft). Species at Risk Act policies overarching policy framework. Species at Risk Act Policies and Guidelines Series. Government of Canada.

Hammerson, G.A. 2007. Phrynosoma hernandesi. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of threatened species. Version 2010.4. [Accessed March 15, 2011]

IUCN. 2010. IUCN Red List of threatened species. Version 2010.4. Available www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: March 30, 2011.)

James, J.D. 1997. Pre- and post-parturition thermoregulation in free-ranging female Eastern Short-horned Lizards (Phrynosoma douglassii brevirostre) in southern Alberta. M.Sc. Thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary Alberta. 179 pp.

James, J.D. 2002. A survey of Short-horned Lizard (Phrynosoma hernandesi hernandesi) populations in Alberta. Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, Fish and Wildlife Division. Alberta Species at Risk Report No, 29. Edmonton AB.

James, J.D. 2003. Short-horned Lizards (Phrynosoma hernandesi hernandesi) populations in Alberta – 2002 survey results. Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, Fish and Wildlife Division, Alberta Species at Risk Report No. 65. Edmonton, AB 7 pp.

James, J.D., A.P. Russell, and G.L. Powell. 1997. Status of the Eastern Short-horned Lizard (Phrynosoma douglassii brevirostre) in Alberta. Alberta Environmental Protection, Wildlife Management Division, Wildlife Status Report No. 5, Edmonton, AB. 20 pp.

Jones, K. B. 1981. Effects of grazing on lizard abundance and diversity in western Arizona. Southwestern Naturalist. 26: 107-115.

Leung, M. N.  2012.  Phylogeography of the greater short-horned lizard (Phrynosoma hernandesi) in Alberta.  PhD. thesis, University of Calgary Alberta.

McGuire. 2006. Phylogenetic relationships of horned lizards (Phrynosoma)based on nuclear and mitochondrial data: evidence for a misleading mitochondrial gene tree. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 39: 628-644.

Mathies, T. and D.J. Martin. 2008. Overwintering site selection by short-horned lizards (Phrynosoma hernandesi) in Northeastern Colorado. Journal of Herpetology 42(1) 163-171.

Montanucci, R.R. 1983. Breeding, captive care, and longevity of the short-horned lizard, Phrynosoma douglassi. International Zoo Yearbook. 23:148-156.

Morris, W.F., and D.F. Doak. 2002. Chapter 2: The causes and quantification of population vulnerability in Quantitative Conservation Biology: theory and practice of population viability analysis. xii+480 pp.Sunderland, Massachusetts, USA: Sinauer Associates, Inc.

NatureServe. 2013. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. (Accessed: October 23, 2013 ).

Newbold, T.A.S. and J.A. MacMahon. 2008. Consequences of cattle introduction in a shrubsteppe ecosystem: indirect effects on desert horned lizards (Phrynosoma platyrhinos). Western North American Naturalist 68(3): 291-302.

Newbold, T.A.S. 2005. Desert horned lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos) locomotor performance: The influence of cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum). The Southwest Naturalist 50(1) 17-23.

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Pearce, J.L., D.T. McKinnon, and D.A. Kirk. 2010.Analysis of threats to species-at-risk on the South of the Divide Project Area. Report to the Saskatchewan Ministry of the Environment. 102 pp.

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Powell, G.L. 1982. The Eastern Short-horned Lizard. In Alberta: basic field ecology of northern marginal populations. M.Sc. thesis. University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. 343 pp.

Powell, G.L. and A.P. Russell. 1984. The diet of the Eastern Short-horned Lizard, Phrynosoma douglassi brevirostre in Alberta and its relationship to sexual size dimorphism. Canadian Journal of Zoology 62:428-440.

Powell, G.L. and A.P. Russell. 1985a. Growth and sexual size dimorphism in Alberta populations of the Eastern Short-horned Lizard, Phrynsoma douglassi brevirostre. Canada Journal of Zoology 63:139-154.

Powell, G.L. and A.P. Russell. 1985b. Field thermal ecology of the Eastern Short-horned Lizard (Phrynosoma douglassii brevirostre) in southeastern Alberta. Canadian Journal of Zoology 63:228-238.

Powell, G.L. and A.P. Russell. 1991a. Distribution of the Eastern Short-horned Lizard (Phrysnosoma douglassii brevirostre) in Alberta. Canada. Northwestern Naturalist 72:21-26.

Powell, G.L. and A.P. Russell. 1991 b. Paturition and clutch characteristics of short-horned lizards (Phrynosoma douglassii brevirostre) from Alberta. Canada Journal of Zoology 69:2759-2764.

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Personal Communications

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Appendix A: Effects on the Environment and Other 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 and to evaluate whether the outcomes of a recovery planning document could affect any component of the environment or any of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy's (FSDS) goals and targets.

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, but are also summarized below in this statement.

Recovery approaches outlined in this strategy focus on protecting the species' natural habitat, increasing knowledge of the species  and maintaining the existing distribution of the species. Negative effects on the environment and other species are not anticipated. It is expected that most other species occurring in the same areas as the Greater Short-horned Lizard will benefit from this strategy, via increased knowledge gained through inventory, monitoring and research programs, and on-the-ground conservation and recovery initiatives. Other species expected to benefit from this strategy include: Mormon Metalmark butterfly (Apodemia mormo), Prairie Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis), Prairie Garter Snake (Thamnophis radix), Bullsnake (Pituophis catenifer), and Plains Hognose Snakes (Heterodon nasicus nasicus), plus other species that may utilize lizards as a food source, such as Prairie Loggerhead Shrikes (Lanius ludovicianus excubitorides). Implementation of recovery actions for Greater Short-horned Lizards in Saskatchewan and Alberta will be integrated with those for other species at risk  wherever possible, for example, through the South of the Divide Multi-species Action Plan in southwest Saskatchewan, the Grasslands National Park Action Plan, and through the MULTISAR  program in Alberta.

This recovery strategy directly contributes to the goals and targets of the Federal Sustainability Development Strategy for Canada. Specifically, it contributes to Goal 5: "Wildlife Conservation – Maintain or restore populations of wildlife to healthy levels", and to Goal 6: "Ecosystem/Habitat Conservation and Protection- Maintain productive and resilient ecosystems with the capacity to recover and adapt".

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Appendix B: Legal Land Description of Quarter Sections that Contain Critical Habitat (see Byophysical Attributes Described in Section 7.1) for Greater Short-Horned Lizard in Southeast Alberta

Legal Land Description of Quarter Sections that Contain Critical Habitat for Greater Short-Horned Lizard in Southeast Alberta.
QuarterSectionTownshipRangeMeridian
SW1144
NE2144
NW2144
SE2144
SW2144
NE3144
SE3144
SW3144
NE10144
NW10144
SE10144
SW10144
NW11144
SW11144
NE29144
NW29144
SE29144
SW29144
NE35144
SE35144
NW36144
SW36144
NE8154
NW8154
SE8154
SW8154
NW15154
NE16154
SE21154
SW22154
NW31154
SW31154
NE24164
NW24164
SE24164
SW24164
NE36164
NW36164
SE36164
SW36164
SW311114
NE251124
NW251124
NE321124
NW321124
SE321124
SW321124
NE331124
SE331124
NW331124
SW331124
NE361124
NW361124
SE361124
SW361124
NE2254
NW2254
SE2254
SW2254
NE17254
NW17254
SE17254
SW17254
NE20254
NW20254
SE20254
SW20254
SE1264
SW1264
NW7294
SE18294
SW18294
NE30344
NW30344
SE30344
SW30344
NE18434
NW18434
SE18434
SW18434
NW19434
SW19434
NW30434
SW30434
NE31434
NW31434
SE31434
SW31434
NE7444
NW7444
SE7444
SW7444
NE13444
SE13444
NE17444
NW17444
SW17444
NE18444
NW18444
SE18444
SW18444
NE23444
NE24444
NW24444
SE24444
SW24444
NE25444
NW25444
SE25444
SW25444
NE26444
NW26444
SE26444
NE27444
NW27444
NE28444
NW28444
NE33444
SE33444
SW33444
NE34444
NW34444
SE34444
SW34444
SW35444
SE36444
SW36444
NE13454
NW13454
SE13454
SW13454
NW3544
SW3544
NE4544
NW4544
SE4544
SW4544
NE6544
NW6544
SW6544
SE7544
SW7544
NE8544
SE8544
NW9544
SW9544
NE19544
NW19544
NE20544
NW20544
SE20544
SW20544
SW29544
NE30544
NW30544
SE30544
SW30544
NE31544
NW31544
SE31544
SW31544
NW1554
SW1554
NE2554
NW2554
SE2554
NE10554
NW10554
SE10554
SW10554
NE11554
NW11554
SE11554
SW11554
NW12554
SW12554
NW13554
SW13554
NE14554
NW14554
SE14554
SW14554
NE15554
SE15554
NE23554
NW23554
SE23554
SW23554
NW24554
SW24554
SW25554
NW26554
SE26554
SW26554
NE27554
SE27554
SW35554
NE266114
NW266114
SE266114
SW266114
NE276114
NW276114
SE276114
NE286114
NW286114
SE286114
SW286114
NE296114
SE296114
SE346114
SW346114
SW356114
NE127104
NW127104
SE127104
SW127104
NE217104
NW227104
NW297104
SW297104
NE307104
NW307104
SE317104
SW317104
NE1711114
NW1711114
NE1811114
NW1911114
SW1911114
SE2011114
SW2011114
NE2111114
NW2111114
NW2211114
SE2411114
SW2411114
SW2711114
SE2811114
NE2411124
NW2411124
SE2411124
SW2411124
SW2511124
NE261264
SE351264
SW361264
NW291274
NE301274
SW321274
NE11394
NW11394
NE101394
NE111394
NW111394
SE111394
NE121394
NW121394
SE121394
SW121394
SW141394
SE151394
NE113104
NW113104
SE113104
SW113104
NE213104
SE213104
NE71444
NW71444
SE181444
SW181444
SW191444
NE131454
NE241454
SE241454
SW241454

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Appendix C: Legal Land Description of Quarter Sections that Contain Critical Habitat (see Byophysical Attributes Described in Section 7.1) for Greater Short-Horned Lizard in Southwest Saskatchewan

Legal Land Description of Quarter Sections that Contain Critical Habitat for Greater Short-Horned Lizard in Southwest Saskatchewan.
QuarterSectionTownshipRangeMeridian
NE5153
NW5153
NE6153
NW6153
SE7153
SW7153
NE8153
SE8153
SW8153
NE9153
NW9153
SE9153
SW9153
NE17153
NW17153
SE17153
SW17153
NW18153
SE18153
SW18153
NE19153
SE19153
NW20153
SW20153
NE22153
NW22153
SE22153
SW22153
NE1163
SE12163
NE13163
SE13163
NW21103
NE31103
NE101103
SE101103
NE111103
NW111103
SW111103
NE141103
NW141103
SE141103
SW141103
SE151103
SE231103
SW231103
NE321103
NE331103
NW331103
NE42103
NW42103
SE42103
SW42103
SE52103
NE82103
SE82103
NE92103
NW92103
SE92103
SW92103
NW102103
SW102103
NW152103
SW152103
NE162103
NW162103
SE162103
SW162103
NE172103
NW172103
SE172103
SW172103
NE182103
NW182103
SW182103
NE192103
NW192103
SE192103
SW192103
NE202103
NW202103
SE202103
SW202103
SW222103
SE302103
SW302103
NE132113
SE132113
NE192113
NW192113
SE242113
NW292113
SW292113
NE302113
NW302113
SE302113
SW302113
NE312113
NW312113
SE312113
SW312113
NW322113
NE202123
NW202123
NE212123
NW212123
NE252123
SE252123
NW282123
SE282123
SW282123
NE292123
NW292123
SE292123
SW292123
NE302123
NW302123
SE302123
SE312123
SW312123
SE322123
SW322123
SW332123
NE352123
NE362123
NW362123
SE362123
SW362123
NE222133
NE232133
NW232133
SE232133
SW232133
NE252133
NE262133
NW262133
SE262133
SW262133
NE272133
SE272133
NE342133
NW342133
SE342133
SE362133
SE53113
SW53113
NE63113
NW63113
SE63113
SW63113
NE73113
NW73113
SE73113
SW73113
NW83113
NW173113
SW173113
NE183113
NW183113
SE183113
SW183113
SW193113
NE13123
NW13123
SE13123
SW13123
NE23123
NW23123
SE23123
SW23123
NE33123
NW33123
SE33123
SW33123
NE43123
NW43123
NE53123
NW53123
SE53123
SW53123
NE63123
NW63123
SE63123
NE73123
NW73123
SE73123
SW73123
NE83123
NW83123
SE83123
SW83123
NE93123
NW93123
SE93123
SW93123
NE103123
NW103123
SE103123
SW103123
NE113123
NW113123
SE113123
SW113123
NE123123
NW123123
SE123123
SW123123
NE133123
NW133123
SE133123
SW133123
NE153123
NW153123
SE153123
SW153123
NE163123
NW163123
SE163123
SW163123
NE173123
NW173123
SE173123
SW173123
NW183123
SE183123
SW183123
SE203123
SW203123
SE213123
SW213123
SE243123
SW243123
NW13133
NE23133
NW23133
SE23133
SW23133
NE33133
SE33133
NE103133
SE103133
NE113133
NW113133
SE113133
SW113133
NE123133
NW123133
SE123133
SW123133
NE133133
NW133133
SE133133
SW133133
NE143133
NW143133
SE143133
SW143133
NE153133
SE153133
SE233133
SE243133
SW243133

Footnotes

Footnote 1

A quarter section is a parcel of land 64 ha (160 acres) in size.

Return to footnote 1 referrer

Footnote 2

COSEWIC – Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada

Return to footnote 2 referrer

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