Species at Risk Act
Recovery Strategy Series
Table of Contents
- Executive Summary
- Recovery Feasibility Summary
- 1. COSEWIC Species Assessment Information
- 2. Species Status Information
- 3. Species Information
- 4. Threats
- 5. Population and Distribution Objectives
- 6. Broad Strategies and General Approaches to Meet Objectives
- 7. Critical Habitat
- 8. Measuring Progress
- 9. Statement on Action Plans
- 10. References
- Personal Communications
- Appendix A: Effects on the Environment and Other Species
Recovery Strategy for the Bluehearts (Buchnera americana) in Canada [Final] - 2014
Environment Canada. 2014. Recovery Strategy for the Bluehearts (Buchnera americana) in Canada. Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series. Environment Canada, Ottawa. iv + 24 pp.
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: Thomas G. Barnes – USDA-NRCA Plants Database
Également disponible en français sous le titre
« Programme de rétablissement du buchnéra d’Amérique (Buchnera americana) au Canada »
© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of the Environment, 2014. All rights reserved.
Catalogue no. En3-4/120-2014E-PDF
Content (excluding the illustrations) may be used without permission, with appropriate credit to the source.
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.S.C. 2002, c.29) (SARA), the federal competent ministers are responsible for the preparation of recovery strategies for listed Extirpated, Endangered, and Threatened species and are required to report on progress within five years.
The Minister of the Environment is the competent minister for the recovery of Bluehearts and has prepared this strategy, as per section 37 of SARA. It has been prepared in cooperation with the Province of Ontario and the Department of National Defence.
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 Bluehearts 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.
Earlier drafts of this recovery strategy were prepared by Holly Bickerton (formerly Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR)), along with recovery team members, including: Karen Hartley, Chris Risley, and Allen Woodliffe (OMNR), Kate Hayes (formerly Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service – Ontario (EC, CWS-ON)) and Alistair MacKenzie (consulting ecologist). The draft strategy was updated by Angela Darwin, Rachel deCatanzaro and Ken Tuininga (EC, CWS – ON) and Patricia Mohr (formerly EC, CWS – ON). Madeline Austen, Lesley Dunn, Marie-Claude Archambault and Graham Bryan (EC, CWS – ON) also reviewed and provided comments and advice during development of this document.
The following people have contributed by providing information, photos, maps, and by commenting on drafts: Al Harris (Northern Bioscience), Judith Jones (Winter Spider Eco-Consulting), Melody Cairns, Mike Oldham, Tom Purdy and Don Sutherland (OMNR), Deb Jacobs (formerly OMNR), Christine Vance (formerly EC, CWS – ON), Carolyn Seburn and Wendy Dunford (EC, CWS – National Capital Region), and Robert Decarie (formerly EC, CWS – National Capital Region). Rick Sherstabetoff, Darryl Damude, Rob Wheeler and Jennifer Rowland (Department of National Defence) also contributed information during the development of this recovery strategy. Acknowledgment and thanks is given to all other parties that provided advice and input used to help inform the development of this recovery strategy including various Aboriginal organizations and individuals, individual citizens, and stakeholders who provided input and/or participated in consultation meetings.
Bluehearts (Buchnera americana) is a perennial herb with small purple flowers that appear between mid-July and early September. In Canada, the habitat occupied by Bluehearts can be characterized as moist, interdunal depressions or swales along the shores of southern Lake Huron. It has suffered continued population declines as a result of human activities, and is listed as Endangered on Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act. There are only three known extant locations of Bluehearts in Canada (former Camp Ipperwash and Richmond Park; Pinery Provincial Park; and Ipperwash Beach).
Threats to Bluehearts include, but are not limited to: water level changes; fenced exclosures; detection and removal of unexploded explosive ordnance; cottage and residential development; harvesting; recreational activities; loss of pollinators; infrastructure and road construction; and invasive plants.
There are unknowns regarding the feasibility of recovery of Bluehearts. In keeping with the precautionary principle, this recovery strategy has been prepared as per section 41(1) of SARA, as would be done when recovery is determined to be feasible. Broad strategies to be taken to address the threats to the survival and recovery of Bluehearts are presented in the section on Strategic Direction for Recovery. The population and distribution objective is to maintain the current distribution of Bluehearts, and to maintain, or increase where biologically and technically feasible, the current abundance of Bluehearts at the known extant populations in Canada. Critical habitat is fully identified for Bluehearts within this recovery strategy, based on the best available data. As additional information becomes available, additional critical habitat may be identified where sites meet the critical habitat criteria.
One or more action plans will be completed for Bluehearts by December 2020.
Based on the following four criteria outlined in the Government of Canada (2009), there are unknowns regarding the feasibility of recovery of Bluehearts. In keeping with the precautionary principle, a recovery strategy has been prepared as per section 41(1) of SARA, as would be done when recovery is determined to be feasible. This recovery strategy addresses the unknowns surrounding the feasibility of recovery.
- 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. Although numbers are low, individuals capable of reproduction are believed to be present within the Canadian range. As well, individuals capable of reproduction are present across the United States range; however, it is unknown if these populations could be used to sustain the Canadian population or improve its abundance.
- Sufficient suitable habitat is available to support the species or could be made available through habitat management or restoration.
Yes. There is some uncertainty surrounding the minimum viable population size and required area of suitable habitat for Bluehearts; however, the occurrence at the former Camp Ipperwash is located on one of the largest remaining high quality coastal dune grassland complexes in southern Ontario (Jones pers. comm. 2005). Sufficient suitable habitat is believed to be available to maintain Bluehearts populations in Canada.
- The primary threats to the species or its habitat (including threats outside Canada) can be avoided or mitigated.
Unknown. Research on Bluehearts populations in Ohio has shown the species to be somewhat tolerant of disturbance, and its recovery potential may be good (Burns and Cusick 1984). Although some threats currently facing the Ontario populations (e.g., habitat loss and degradation and recreational activities) may be reduced through site management techniques, others (e.g., successional change and invasive plants) will likely be more difficult to mitigate.
- Recovery techniques exist to achieve the population and distribution objectives or can be expected to be developed within a reasonable timeframe.
Yes. Documented recovery techniques can serve as a guide to maintain and improve Bluehearts populations in Canada. Germination and subsequent growth have been shown to be relatively simple, while transplantation success and long-term survival is dependant upon factors such as the presence of suitable hosts and environmental conditions (NatureServe 2010). It is thought that the natural recovery potential of Bluehearts at a site given appropriate management may be good (NatureServe 2010).
1. COSEWIC* Species Assessment Information
Date of Assessment: May 2000
Common Name (population): Bluehearts
Scientific Name: Buchnera americana
COSEWIC Status: Endangered
Reason for Designation: Small disjunct populations of restricted occurrence with continued population decline and losses due to a variety of human activities.
Canadian Occurrence: Ontario
COSEWIC Status History:Designated Threatened in April 1985. Status re-examined and designated Endangered in April 1998. Status re-examined and confirmed in May 2000.
Although Bluehearts (Buchnera americana) has been tentatively assigned the conservation rank of Globally Secure (G5?) (NatureServe 2010), this rank treats B. americana as including B. floridana, a more common species in the southern United States. When considered separately, some authors suggest that B. americana should be ranked Globally Vulnerable (G3) or Apparently Secure (G4) (COSEWIC 2000). B. americana is rare throughout the northeast, and in the United States it is ranked Critically Imperiled (S1), Imperiled (S2), Possibly Extirpated (SH) or Presumed Extirpated (SX) in 10 of the 12 northeastern states in which it occurs (NatureServe 2010). Ranks are not presented for the southern states, as many of these ranks would include B. floridana.
Bluehearts is ranked Critically Imperiled in Canada (N1) and in Ontario (S1) (NatureServe 2010). It is also listed as Endangered on Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act and on the Species at Risk in Ontario List under the Endangered Species Act, 2007. All Canadian occurrences probably represent less than 1% of the species’ global population (COSEWIC 2000) and much of the habitat within this range is unsuitable and not occupied (Harris pers. comm. 2010).
Bluehearts is a perennial herb that normally ranges between 40 cm and 80 cm in height. Leaves are opposite, toothed, and sessile on hairy, mostly unbranched stems. The flowers are deep purple corolla tubes between 10 mm and 14 mm long and are found in a spike at the top of the plant. In Ontario, flowering occurs between mid-July and early September. Within Canada, there are no other species within the genus Buchnera with which Bluehearts may be confused. More detailed descriptions and technical illustrations of Bluehearts may be found in Gleason and Cronquist (1991), Holmgren (1998) and Voss (1996).
Bluehearts has traditionally been placed in the snapdragon or figwort (Scrophulariaceae) family (COSEWIC 2000). While some taxonomic authorities continue to place it in this family (e.g., USDA NRCS 2011), others now consider it to fall in the broomrape (Orobanchaceae) family (e.g., MBG 2011; USDA GRIN 2011). In addition, some authors consider B. americana to include the relatively common southern species B. floridana (e.g., Kartesz 1994, NatureServe 2010); however, this recovery strategy follows the COSEWIC status report (COSEWIC 2000) and other literature (e.g., Pennell 1935), which considers B. floridana to be a separate species and, therefore, refers to B. americana in the strict sense as “Bluehearts”. More taxonomic work is needed to determine if B. americana and B. floridana are conspecific.
In Canada, Bluehearts is believed to be extant at three locations (former Camp Ipperwash and Richmond Park; Pinery Provincial Park; and Ipperwash Beach) of Lake Huron coastal wet meadows along an approximate 10 km stretch within the Kettle Point to Pinery Provincial Park area of Lambton County, Ontario (Figure 2; Table 1). Occurrences historically noted at Port Franks (Poplar Lodge); Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation Reserve; and Walpole Island First Nation (Squirrel Island) have not been observed in over 15 years (despite recent surveys at many of the sites) and are presumed extirpated (Oldham pers. comm. 2005; Harris pers. comm. 2010). No suitable habitat remains at Port Franks, and while some suitable habitat may remain at the Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation Reserve, much of the habitat has been eliminated due to construction of a subdivision (Harris pers. comm. 2010). While it is probably extirpated, some question seems to remain as to whether the former Ipperwash Provincial Park population still exists. No plants have been seen at this location since 1994 and woody plants have invaded several previously known sites, but it is possible that suitable habitat may still exist (Dobbyn and Crins 2009). Ontario populations are disjunct from U.S. populations, and were estimated (nearly two decades ago) to be 800 km from the nearest known population in the northeastern U.S., and over 1,320 km from areas of greatest density (Brownell 1985).
Total numbers of Bluehearts fluctuate widely throughout its range, possibly due to changes in water level, and to the plant’s facultative hemiparasitic nature (NatureServe 2010). This, in addition to the difficulty of getting landowner permission to access all populations for surveys, makes precise population trends in Canada difficult to determine. Available data suggest that Canadian populations have declined, consistent with the global short term decline of Bluehearts of 10-30% (NatureServe 2010). The largest total number of plants recorded in Canada (Ontario) was 2,182 in 1981, when all populations were surveyed in the same year (COSEWIC 2000) (Table 1). A more recent estimate (1997) from the Bio Lake and Richmond Park site of the former Camp Ipperwash and Richmond Park location; Pinery Provincial Park; and Ipperwash Beach was 553 plants (COSEWIC 2000). Detailed population estimates from early surveys are available in COSEWIC (2000). In 2005, 727 plants were counted at the Bio Lake and Richmond Park site and Pinery Provincial Park (Jacobs pers. comm. 2005; MacKenzie pers. comm. 2005). In 2009, all known locations, including historic locations (except Walpole Island First Nation), were surveyed and a total of 448 plants were observed, all at the former Camp Ipperwash and Richmond Park location (Harris pers. comm. 2010). On a later survey in 2009 and another in 2010, approximately 40 plants were also recorded at the Ipperwash Beach location (Rider pers. comm. 2010).
|Location||EO Rank||Last Obs.||Population estimates||Site inventory reports||Notes|
|Former Camp Ipperwash and Richmond Park||A||2009||Unclear. At least eight subpopulations. Maximum may be approx. 900 plants total (early 1980s). 462 plants at Bio Lake and Richmond Park site in 1997; 723 in 2005. Population confirmed extant (AMEC 2006; Neegan Burnside 2009); 448 plants in 2009.||Klinkenberg and Crabe 1980; Crabe 1983; Brownell 1985; COSEWIC 2000; Jacobs pers. comm. 2005; Harris pers. comm. 2010.||Complex ownership; parts of this occurrence certainly declining; new, small subpopulations were found in 2008.|
|Pinery Provincial Park||C||2010||Max 594 (1984); Min 0 (2004, 2009). 3 plants found in 1997; 4 plants in 2005; 90 in 2008; 21 in 2010.||Brownell 1985; Crabe 1989; Crabe 1993; Crabe and VandenBygaardt 1994; COSEWIC 2000; Mackenzie pers. comm. 2005; Harris pers. comm. 2010.||No plants located in 2004, 2009, but 90 found in 2008 (Harris pers. comm. 2010). 21 plants located in 2010 (Craig pers. comm. 2010).|
|Ipperwash Beach||D||2010||Max 88 (1997); Min approximately 40 (2009 and 2010).||COSEWIC 2000; Rider pers. comm. 2010; Harris pers. comm. 2010.||Discovered in Sept 1997; plants recorded in 2009 and 2010 (Rider pers. comm. 2010).|
|Former Ipperwash Provincial Park||X||1994||Max 54 (1984); Min 0 (1988, 1997, 2009). 1 plant found in 1994.||COSEWIC 2000; Dobbyn and Crins 2009; Harris pers. comm. 2010.||No plants located in 1997, 2009; habitat succession to cedar forest (COSEWIC 2000); some suitable habitat may exist (Dobbyn and Crins 2009); presumed extirpated (Harris pers. comm. 2010).|
|Port Franks (Poplar Lodge)||X||1984||Max 45 (1984); Min 0 (2009).||COSEWIC 2000; Harris pers. comm. 2010.||No plants located in 2009; habitat overgrown and houses constructed (COSEWIC 2000); presumed extirpated (Harris pers. comm. 2010).|
|Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation Reserve||X||1983||Max 450 (1983); Min 0 (1997, 2000, 2009).||Brownell 1985; COSEWIC 2000; Harris pers. comm. 2010.||No plants located in 1997, 2000, 2009; area developed by a subdivision in the 1990s (COSEWIC 2000); presumed extirpated (Harris pers. comm. 2010).|
|Walpole Island First Nation|
|X||1910||None.||Dodge 1910, 1914.||Not seen since 1910.|
Throughout its range (including Ontario), Bluehearts typically occupies sandy or gravelly soils (Gleason and Cronquist 1991). In Ontario, the habitat occupied by Bluehearts can be characterized as moist, interdunal depressions or swales between 100 m and 500 m from the shoreline along the shores of southern Lake Huron. In other areas of North America, it appears to tolerate a broader range of moisture conditions, sometimes occurring in dry, well-drained soils, including upland prairies and open woodlands (Brownell 1985).
In Ontario, the species is found within two provincially rare vegetation community types, Graminoid Coastal Meadow Marsh and Shrubby Cinquefoil Coastal Meadow Marsh (Bakowsky 1996). Wet meadows are botanically diverse communities that are typically dominated by graminoids (i.e., grasses, sedges, rushes) in measures of cover, constancy and frequency (Bakowsky 1990). They have been well-described in reports covering all extant locations of Bluehearts (see Sutherland et al. 1994; Thompson 1994; Bakowsky 1990; Crabe 1983; Klinkenberg and Edwards 1980). At Pinery Provincial Park, graminoids had the highest percent cover (34-69%), followed by herbs (11-26%). Woody shrubs were a minor component of this vegetation community (0.4-15%) (Bakowsky 1990).
Bluehearts has been described as a perennial plant based on the observation of rootstock (Brownell 1985); however, anecdotal evidence suggests that it survives as an annual in Ontario and possibly some northern states (COSEWIC 2000; NatureServe 2010).
Relatively little is known about the specific biological requirements of Bluehearts. The species is a facultative hemiparasite, meaning that it may obtain some nourishment from a host species and through photosynthesis but also appears able to mature without a parasitic attachment (Voss 1996). Bluehearts may select as hosts the roots of a variety of deciduous and coniferous trees species (Musselman and Mann 1977). Several tree species that function as hosts at locations in the United States also occur in Ontario (e.g., White Pine (Pinus strobus), Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), Cottonwood (Populus deltoides), White Oak (Quercus alba)), but these are uncommon in wet meadows where Bluehearts is found in Ontario.
In the United States, Bluehearts is known to be one of the larval host plants for the Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) butterfly (Daniels 2009). On the basis of flower morphology, it has been suggested that flowers in the genus Buchnera are likely butterfly pollinated, and that self-pollination could also be widespread (Pennell 1935). Species of insect pollinators of Bluehearts in Ontario have not been identified. Seed dispersal mechanisms are unknown; however, based on characteristics of the seed coat, it is possible that seeds are water-dispersed (Musselman and Mann 1976).
Bluehearts is restricted to open habitats and can be excluded from its habitat by succession. The seeds require light for germination, although they remain viable in the soil and, therefore, may form seed banks (Musselmann and Mann 1977). Bluehearts has been described as a fire-maintained species, in that fire is required to maintain open prairie-like habitat, and spring fires do not appear to be damaging to populations (NatureServe 2010). In Ontario, fire has not been documented at most Bluehearts sites in the last three decades (Woodliffe pers. comm. 2005); however, prescribed burning of some meadows was implemented in Pinery Provincial Park starting in 2008 (Harris pers. comm. 2010). Succession in Ontario is likely slowed by seasonal (i.e., spring and autumn) flooding of wet meadows, which excludes dominant woody species and allows Bluehearts to persist. Extended periods of drought in wet meadow communities could result in succession. Natural levels of herbivory of other competing vegetation in Lake Huron wet meadows may also have helped to maintain open conditions.
Because it inhabits shoreline communities, Bluehearts may be limited by destructive coastal processes. Bluehearts’ hemiparasitic nature may make transplanting difficult, and germinating seeds in situ may prove more successful (NatureServe 2010).
The threats presented in Table 2 are in decreasing order of importance, with a focus on threats to extant populations in Canada. Threats may vary in their level of significance to the various extant and historical populations.
|Threat||Level of Concern1||Extent||Occurrence||Frequency||Severity2||Causal Certainty3|
|Changes in Ecological Dynamics or Natural Processes*|
|Water Level Changes||High||Widespread||Current||Recurring||Medium||Medium|
|Loss of Pollinators||Low||Unknown||Unknown||Seasonal||Unknown||Low|
|Habitat Loss or Degradation*|
|Detection and Removal of Unexploded Explosive Ordnance (former Camp Ipperwash)||Medium||Localized||Anticipated||One-time||High||Low|
|Cottage and Residential Development||Medium||Widespread||Historic||Recurring||Medium||Medium|
|Infrastructure and Road Construction||Low||Localized||Historic||One-time||Medium||High|
|Disturbance or Harm*|
|Exotic, Invasive, or Introduced Species*|
|Invasive Plants (European Common Reed,Phragmites australisssp.australis)||Medium||Widespread||Current||Continuous||Medium||Medium|
1 Level of Concern: signifies that managing the threat is of (high, medium or low) concern for the recovery of the species, consistent with the population and distribution objectives. This criterion considers the assessment of all the information in the table).
2 Severity: reflects the population-level effect (High: very large population-level effect, Moderate, Low, Unknown).
3 Causal certainty: reflects the degree of evidence that is known for the threat (High: available evidence strongly links the threat to stresses on population viability; Medium: there is a correlation between the threat and population viability e.g. expert opinion; Low: the threat is assumed or plausible).
* Threats are listed in decreasing level of significance.
The primary demonstrated threat to Bluehearts’ persistence across its North American range is habitat loss and damage. In Ontario, the major historical threat was habitat loss through the conversion of dune habitat to cottages and homes. Currently, the most significant threats to extant populations in Ontario appear to be those that promote woody plant succession. This species is also increasingly threatened by recreational activities.
Water Level Changes
Fluctuating water levels are important for maintaining open Bluehearts habitat at all extant locations in Ontario. In the last fifteen years, lake levels on Lakes Huron and Michigan have remained consistently below the long-term average (Environment Canada 2010). Over time, this may reduce the frequency of seasonal flooding, leading to woody plant succession and a loss of open habitat required by Bluehearts.
Succession is occurring in several fenced exclosures established at Pinery Provincial Park in the 1980s and is likely the primary threat to this population (Harris pers. comm. 2010). These exclosures were erected to protect Bluehearts, Dense Blazing Star (Liatris spicata), and the wet meadows from trampling and deer herbivory. Additional deer control measures have since been put in place. Browse outside the exclosures has helped to maintain open conditions, while within the fenced areas Eastern White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis) is now establishing and may shade out Bluehearts (COSEWIC 2000; Harris pers. comm. 2010). Prescribed burning has become necessary to maintain some of the Bluehearts population in Pinery Provincial Park wet meadows.
Detection and Removal of Unexploded Explosive Ordnance
There is the potential for disturbance of Bluehearts during upcoming decommissioning activities at the former Camp Ipperwash location which is currently owned and managed by Department of National Defence (DND). Studies are currently underway to delineate areas where munitions (unexploded explosive ordnance) and species at risk occur, and to evaluate next steps for decommissioning the site safely and protecting species at risk, including Bluehearts. Environment Canada is working closely with DND and the Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation to protect species at risk. It is not known at this stage whether or not decommissioning activities will impact Bluehearts and, if so, what mitigation measures will be taken to protect this population.
Cottage and Residential Development
Privately owned land in many coastal communities across the species’ North American range is under pressure from cottage and residential development. In the past, home and cottage development appears to have lead to the extirpation of the populations at the Port Franks (Poplar Lodge) location as well as the Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation Reserve (Harris pers. comm. 2010). Currently, however, this does not appear to be a major threat to the known extant populations of Bluehearts.
Harvesting and Recreational Activities
Recreational activities, such as biking or hiking, are a demonstrated threat for the population at Pinery Provincial Park and have been regarded as a threat to the wet meadow communities for over two decades (Klinkenberg and Edwards 1980). This population is found in a wet meadow that is surrounded by a popular campground with approximately 200 sites located near the beach (Crabe et al. 1988; COSEWIC 2000; Harris pers. comm. 2010). Trampling and direct destruction by bicycles, as well as the picking of the showy flowers, continue to be observed at this location (MacKenzie, Purdy pers. comm. 2005), but the severity of the impact these activities are having on the population is currently not known.
In 1994, botanists working at the former Camp Ipperwash observed that all terrain vehicle (ATV) use and traffic from other vehicles (probably both civilian and military) were damaging Bluehearts habitat in the wet meadows (Sutherland et al. 1994). Foot traffic may have increased with the development of the Richmond Park community, although it is not currently regarded as a major concern (Woodliffe pers. comm. 2005).
Loss of Pollinators
There is some concern that loss of pollinators due to insecticide application or loss of pollinator breeding habitat may pose a threat to Bluehearts across its North American range (Harris pers. comm. 2010; NatureServe 2010). The extent and severity of this threat with respect to extant Canadian populations is not currently known.
Infrastructure and Road Construction
At the former Ipperwash Provincial Park, infrastructure and road construction in the 1970s may have disrupted the natural hydrology of the area by altering water levels and drainage patterns. This likely contributed to the forest succession that lead to the decline (and presumed extirpation) of the population from 1984 to present (COSEWIC 2000). Development of lands surrounding these wet meadows has prevented dispersal opportunities that might have allowed Bluehearts to cope with changes in water levels and seasonal flooding. Although some suitable habitat may remain, this population is now likely extirpated (Harris pers. comm. 2010). Future monitoring is merited to confirm its presence/absence, particularly in years when large numbers of plants are found in other Ontario populations (NHIC 2003; Harris pers. comm. 2010).
Invasive Plants (European Common Reed, Phragmites australis ssp. australis)
Invasive plants are potentially a threat to the Ontario populations. European Common Reed (Phragmites australis ssp.australis) is present in small patches at each extant location (Harris pers. comm. 2010). In addition, large areas of shoreline are dominated by both European Common Reed and cattail (Typha spp.) in the Port Franks area. These species may increase shading and competition for other resources.
The population and distribution objective is to maintain the current distribution of Bluehearts, and to maintain, or increase where biologically and technically feasible, the current abundance of Bluehearts at the known extant populations in Canada. The Canadian distribution of Bluehearts is very restricted, occurring at the northern edge of its range. The species recently (1980’s) occupied additional locations along the shores of southern Lake Huron, but housing developments and successional changes have altered formerly occupied sites. While short-term population fluctuations are inevitable due to changes in water level and the species’ facultative hemiparasitic nature, sufficient habitat is believed to be available at the extant locations to meet the population and distribution objective.
Monitoring of Bluehearts at Pinery Provincial Park has been undertaken annually by park staff from 1980-1994 and 2006-2009 (Harris pers. comm. 2010). Periodic inventories of Bluehearts have also been undertaken at the former Camp Ipperwash and Ipperwash Beach. Survey results are summarized in the COSEWIC status report (COSEWIC 2000) and more recent data are presented in section 3.2 of this recovery strategy.
Strategies intended to reduce or eliminate threats are listed in Table 3.
Critical habitat for Bluehearts is fully identified in this recovery strategy using the best available information. Additional critical habitat may be identified across the range of the species as more information becomes available.
In Ontario, Bluehearts is found on sandy or gravelly soils in moist, interdunal depressions or swales, primarily between 100 m and 500 m from the shoreline, along the shores of southern Lake Huron. Sites are usually dominated by graminoids (i.e. grasses, sedges, rushes).
At the former Camp Ipperwash, Bluehearts is found in wet swales that are separated by dry dune habitat and stands of Eastern White Cedar, Red Cedar (Juniperus virginianus) and other trees (Harris pers. comm. 2010). Although Bluehearts is primarily found in wet meadows (Harris pers. comm. 2010), the immediately adjacent upland areas create the physical bowl or depression necessary to maintain the hydrology, and likely microclimate, of the moist areas within the depression which supports Bluehearts.
As such, all of the wet or moist non-forested low lying areas and adjacent upland areas (both forested and non-forested) are included as suitable habitat with the following exceptions – open water, the open beach bar, as well as any existing man-made features such as roads, established campsites, houses or parking lots.
Site Occupancy Criterion: The site occupancy criterion defines an occupied site as sites where Bluehearts has been observed for any single year between 2006 and 2010. A site extends from the low lying area (i.e., moist interdunal depressions or swales) to the adjacent area where there is no longer an elevation gain and where vegetation communities indicate dry soil conditions, or where a road intersects the suitable habitat.
Since 2006, surveys have been completed for extant populations of Bluehearts. These surveys have included extensive searches for Bluehearts and all occupied areas within these extant populations are now presumed to be identified. In addition, a five year window was selected based on the available information that indicates the seeds of Bluehearts can remain viable in the soil for 2.5 to 3 years (Ostlie 1990).
Critical habitat for Bluehearts is identified as the suitable habitat (Section 7.1.1) within the site boundary as per the Site Occupancy Criterion (Section 7.1.2). Application of the critical habitat criteria to available information identifies four sites as critical habitat at three locations in Canada. The area containing critical habitat for Bluehearts is presented in Figure 3; see also Table 4. Critical habitat for Bluehearts occurs within the 10km x 10km UTM grid squares where the critical habitat criteria and methodology described in this section are met. Open water, the open beach bar and existing man-made features such as roads, established campsites, houses or parking lots are excluded from critical habitat. The UTM grid squares are part of a standardized national grid system that highlights the general geographical area containing critical habitat, for land use planning and/or environmental assessment purposes and is a scale appropriate to reduce any risks to the ecologically sensitivity of the species and its habitat. Disclosing the location not only puts the plant at considerable risk from inadvertent trampling by visitors wishing to view the rare plant, but also increases the potential for collection. More detailed information on the location of critical habitat, to support protection of the species and its habitat, may be requested on a need-to-know basis by contacting Environment Canada – Canadian Wildlife Service at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The critical habitat identified in this recovery strategy is based on the best available information, and is considered sufficient to meet the population and distribution objectives for Bluehearts; additional critical habitat may be added in the future if new information supports the inclusion of areas beyond those that are currently fully identified.
Figure 3. Critical habitat for Bluehearts in Canada occurs within the 10 km x 10 km UTM grids indicated (red outline), where the criteria and methodology set out in Section 7.1 are met. This standardized national grid system indicates the general geographic area containing critical habitat; detailed critical habitat mapping is not shown. Based on the identification criteria, the grid squares contain approximately 151 ha of critical habitat.
|10 x 10 km grid square ID1||Province/|
|UTM Grid Coordinates2|
|UTM Grid Coordinates2|
|Estimated area of critical habtiat3||Land tenure4|
1 Based on the standard UTM Military Grid Reference System (see Natural Resources Canada - Finding UTM References), where the first 2 digits represent the UTM Zone, the following 2 letters indicate the 100 x 100 km standardized UTM grid followed by 2 digits to represent the 10 x 10 km standardized UTM grid containing all or a portion of the critical habitat unit. This unique alphanumeric code is based on the methodology produced from the Breeding Bird Atlases of Canada (See Bird Studies Canada for more information on breeding bird atlases).
2 The listed coordinates are a cartographic representation of where critical habitat can be found, presented as the southwest corner of the 10 x 10 km standardized UTM grid square containing all or a portion of the critical habitat unit. The coordinates may not fall within critical habitat and are provided as a general location only.
3 The area presented is that of the units containing critical habitat (rounded up to the nearest 1 ha); therefore, the actual area of critical habitat may be significantly less. Refer to Section 7.1 for a description of how critical habitat within these areas are defined.
4 Land tenure is provided as an approximation of the types of land ownership that exist at the critical habitat units and should be used for guidance purposes only. Accurate land tenure will require cross referencing critical habitat boundaries with surveyed land parcel information.
Destruction is determined on a case by case basis. Destruction would result if part of the critical habitat was degraded, either permanently or temporarily, such that it would not serve its function when needed by the species. Destruction may result from a single activity or multiple activities at one point in time or from the cumulative effects of one or more activities over time (Government of Canada 2009).
Activities that are likely to destroy critical habitat for Bluehearts include, but are not limited to:
- Development (e.g., housing, parking lots, road construction, landscaping) or other activities that lead to temporary or permanent removal of critical habitat;
- High levels of recreational activities (e.g., ATV use, off-trail hiking and biking) within critical habitat that disturb the substrate and/or result in soil compaction or removal of vegetation, thereby creating conditions unsuitable for seedling establishment and growth;
- Activities (e.g., residential development, creation of paved surfaces) in or around critical habitat that cause hydrological changes leading to woody plant succession within the critical habitat, and, consequently, a reduction in the amount of open habitat required by Bluehearts. These activities are most likely to have hydrologic effects when they are undertaken in areas where they disrupt the natural flow of ground or surface waters into critical habitat;
- Suppression of the natural disturbance regime that may lead to woody plant succession and a loss of open habitat required by Bluehearts.
The performance indicators presented below provide a way to define and measure progress toward achieving the population and distribution objectives for this species.
Every five years, success of the recovery strategy implementation will be measured against the following performance indicators:
- the current level of abundance in Canada has not decreased (given annual variability, the minimum abundance has not fallen below the past known minimum level of abundance), and
- the current distribution in Canada has not decreased.
One or more action plans will be completed for Bluehearts by December 2020.
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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, but are also summarized below in this statement.
Bluehearts’ wet meadows and associated complex habitat is outstandingly species-rich. A comprehensive study of the vascular flora at the former Camp Ipperwash revealed 723 species, with a very high proportion of significant flora (Sutherland et al. 1994). Protection and recovery of these occurrences, including wet meadows and adjacent open and forested dune complexes, would result in the protection of various other species at risk including, but not limited to: Dense Blazing Star (Liatris spicata, nationally and provincially Threatened, S2) and Dwarf Hackberry (Celtis tenuifolia, nationally and provincially Threatened, S2). Also occurring on some of the same sites (although not necessarily in wet meadow habitats) are many other rare plant species, including Heart-leaved Plantain (Plantago cordata, nationally and provincially Endangered, S1), Bushy Aster (Symphyotrichum dumosum; S2), Virginia Bugleweed (Lycopus virginicus, S2), Great Plains Ladies’-tresses (Spiranthes magnicamporum, S3), Slender Blazing Star (Liatris cylindracea, S3), Nut-rush (Scleria verticillata, S3), and Porcupine grass (Stipa spartea, S3). Conservation of these areas would also protect an area rich in insect diversity, including numerous rare insect species for Ontario and Canada (Skevington et al. 2000). Bluehearts is known to be one of the larval host plants for the Common Buckeye butterfly (Daniels 2009). No negative impacts of proposed recovery activities on other species are anticipated.
1 Sessile: Unstalked
2 Corolla: Collective term for the petals of a flower
3 Conspecific: Belonging to the same species.
4 Location: Defined by COSEWIC (2010) as a geographically or ecologically distinct area in which a single threatening event can rapidly affect all individuals of the taxon present.
5 Facultative hemiparasite: a plant that may obtain some nourishment from a host species but is also capable of existing without a host plant.
6 An Element Occurrence (EO) is identified by the Natural Heritage Information Centre (NHIC) as an area of land and/or water in which the species is, or was, present.
7 Rank definitions for EO are: A (Excellent predicted viability); C (Fair predicted viability); D (Probably not viable); X (Extirpated) (NHIC 2003).
8 Unexploded ordnances are a by-product of live fire training, consisting of munitions that have been primed, fuzed, armed or otherwise prepared for action, and that have been fired, dropped, launched or placed in a manner that constitutes a hazard to people, operations, or installations, and remains unexploded by malfunction or for any other reason (DND 2011).
9 Sub-national ranks: S1- critically imperilled; S2 – imperilled; S3 - vulnerable
- Date Modified: