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Recovery strategy for multi-species at risk in Maritime Meadows associated with Garry Oak Ecosystems in Canada

2. Multi-species recovery

2.1 Common limitations and threats

There is a broad range of threats that directly affect maritime meadow species at risk and/or their habitats. The threats and the degree of threat affecting each species are listed in Table 4. The ranking of threats applies to confirmed populations although additional threats will likely also affect translocated populations. For both butterfly species, the importance of each threat relates to the potential effects of known extant, newly found, or reestablished populations (Miskelly and Heron, pers. comm.). In 2004 a population of Taylor’s Checkerspot was confirmed on Denman Island. This population is on private lands and unknown before 2004 (Heron, pers. comm.). A matrix outlining the degree of each threat affecting each plant species at each confirmed location is included in a background document (Fairbarns and Maslovat 2005). The following threats are ranked roughly in descending order of importance for recovery although this may vary between species.

Table 4: Threats to habitat (H) and direct threats to the survival (D) of species at risk in maritime meadows (For each species, threats are ranked as low, moderate, high or ? (unknown)
1. Habitat destructionD,HHighHighHighHighHighHighHighHighHigh
2. Invasive plants - Invasive shrubsD,HHighHighHighLowHighHighHighHighHigh
2. Invasive plants - Invasive grasses and forbsD,HMod.Mod.HighMod.Mod.HighMod.HighHigh
3. Habitat fragmentationDHighHighMod.HighHighHighHighHighHigh
4. Changes in native vegetation composition from altered fire regimesD,HHighHighLowMod.Mod.Mod.HighMod.Mod.
5. RecreationDMod.Mod.HighMod.LowMod.?HighLow
6. Demographic collapseDMod.Mod.Mod.Mod.Mod.Mod.HighLowLow
7. MowingD,HMod.LowLowLow High   
8. Changes to hydrologyH  HighLowLowLow LowMod.
9. Climate changeD,H?????????
10. Re-introduction of fireD,HHighMod.???? ??
11. Livestock grazingD,HHighLow       
12. Cutting or handpulling of invasive plantsD,HLowLowMod.LowMod.Mod.LowMod.Mod.
13. Maintenance activitiesD  Mod.Mod.Mod.Mod. Low 
14. HerbivoryD  LowLowLowLow Mod.Mod.
15. PesticidesDMod.Mod.       
16. Landscaping with non-native plantsDLowLowMod.    Low 
17. Marine pollutionD? H?  LowLowLowLow LowLow
18. Invasive invertebratesD      ?  
19. Invasive vertebratesD, H        ?

Empty cells indicate the threat is not particularly relevant for that species.

IM=island marble, TC=Taylor’s checkerspot, BOC= bearded owl-clover, BFS=bear’s-foot sanicle CSC=coastal Scouler’s catchfly GP=golden paintbrush, PL=prairie lupine, PS=purple sanicle, SBL=seaside birds-foot lotus.

2.1.1 Habitat destruction

Habitat destruction is listed as a primary threat for all of the plant species covered in this recovery strategy (Ryan and Douglas 1995; Ryan and Douglas 1996a, 1996b; Penny et al. 1998; Donovan and Douglas 2001; Penny and Douglas 2001; Fairbarns and Wilkinson 2003) and for Taylor’s checkerspot (Shepard 2000c).

Although agricultural and urban development has likely eliminated both recorded and unrecorded populations of species addressed in this strategy in addition to maritime meadow habitat, most remaining patches of maritime meadows lie within protected areas or on federal lands (refer to Tables 11-17).

2.1.2 Invasive plants

Invasive species (exotic shrubs, grasses and forbs) are a prominent threat to Garry oak and associated ecosystems and to all of the species at risk in this recovery strategy (Fuchs 2001; GOERT 2002). Some invasive plants may increase nitrogen availability, thus changing ecosystem function (Maron and Connors 1996; Adair and Groves 1998; Levine et al. 2003), pre-empt safe-sites for germinants (Brown and Rice 2000; Ryan and Douglas 1996a; Ryan and Douglas 1996b), alter litter layers (Facelli and Pickett 1991; Bergelson 1990), change the availability of soil moisture during different seasons and at different soil depths (Harris and Wilson 1970; Smith 1994), alter soil structure and composition (Levine et al. 2003), increase fire intensity by increased fuel loading (D’Antonio and Vitousek 1992) and compete with native plants for water, light and nutrients (Fuchs 2001; MacDougall, 2002).

Invasive plant species affect butterflies by competing with native larval and adult foodplants, preventing access to nectar plants and by changing the physical structure of the habitat (GOERT 2002; Vaughan and Black 2002a; 2002b).

For threats associated with different management activities, refer to Threats 7 (Mowing), 10 (Reintroduction of fire) and 12 (Cutting or hand-pulling of invasive plants).

2.1.3 Habitat fragmentation

Maritime meadow habitat is naturally fragmented, occurring on separate small islands and in pockets of Garry oak and associated ecosystems. However, recent habitat loss has accentuated the fragmentation by eliminating suitable habitat and the adjacent matrix. Habitat fragmentation may harm the long-term survival of a species by limiting restoration activities (e.g. preventing the reintroduction of fire in urban areas) and limiting dispersal of plants at risk and their pollinators (thereby potentially decreasing reproductive capability). Habitat fragmentation also creates dispersal barriers for seeds and butterflies, potentially limiting genetic diversity and decreasing the possibility of rescue effect (refer to Fuchs 2001 for a more comprehensive overview). Fragmented butterfly habitats may not support a wide enough range of habitat conditions to ensure that phenologically suitable foodplants are available to feed emerging larvae (refer to Fuchs 2001).

2.1.4 Changes in native vegetation composition from altered fire regimes

Although prior to European settlement many Garry oak and associated ecosystems had frequent, low-intensity burns initiated by First Nations (review in Fuchs 2001; Beckwith 2002), it is unclear how ubiquitous the use of fire was in maritime meadows. In areas with large First Nations populations (e.g. Vancouver Island), human-initiated burns probably played a significant role in maintaining meadows. Following European settlement, both cultural and natural fires were actively suppressed (Fuchs 2001; MacDougal et al. 2004). Fire suppression allows the establishment and encroachment of native woody species in areas that were formerly open (Fuchs 2001), increases the buildup of aboveground biomass (grass and dead litter) and decreases the amount of exposed mineral soil providing safe sites for germination and establishment.

Plant communities that are dominated by herbaceous rather than woody species have more fine roots in the soil that produce organic matter as the roots decay root material. Low-intensity fires do not greatly reduce the organic component of the top layers of soil but do burn surface organic materials, releasing nutrients in forms available to plants. In ecosystems where the main inputs of organic matter come from herbaceous or deciduous woody plants rather than coniferous trees, the Ah horizon has a relatively neutral pH in sharp contrast to the acidic soils under Douglas-fir forests (Broersma 1973).

Woody plant encroachment may occur more rapidly on wetter portions of the landscape than in areas that experience deep, prolonged summer drought (GOERT 2002; Vaughan and Black 2002a; 2002b). Encroachment restricts native meadows to areas that are prone to drying out and plants experience premature senescence during times of drought. Premature senescence would reduce the number of larval and nectar plants available for butterfly species Hellmann (2002), Cappuccino and Kareiva (1985). As the phenology of remaining plants is temporally compressed, this can cause starvation of butterflies if foodplants dry out. The Helliwell Park population of Taylor’s checkerspot may have been extirpated because the moister areas of the original grasslands, which previously contained late-season foodplants, have undergone encroachment by conifers.

The suppression of fires also influences the plant community in relation to exotic species invasion. Although some exotic species are favoured by fire (refer to Threat 2), regular fires can also reduce exotic herbaceous vegetation since many highly competitive exotic plants decrease under a regime of frequent burning (Tilman 1988 in MacDougall 2002; MacDougall pers. comm. 2004).

2.1.5 Recreational activities

Trampling from people and dogs can damage vegetation and all butterfly life stages. Bicycling, horseback riding and off-road vehicles can compact soil and damage both butterfly and plant species. Recreational use of horses may have been a factor in the recent extirpation of Taylor’s checkerspot from at least two locations in Washington State (Vaughan and Black 2002b). Although light trampling may benefit some low-growing plant species (e.g. bearded owl-clover, bear’s-foot sanicle) by reducing competition and suppressing tall exotic herbs (Penny et al. 1998), some species such as seaside birds-foot lotus are only found in locations with limited public access and are likely sensitive to trampling (Ryan and Douglas 1996a). The effect of dogs, especially in off-leash areas such as Macaulay Point, and the potential effects of escaped beach fires is not known.

Trial Island Ecological Reserve and Oak Bay Islands Ecological Reserve require permits to land marine craft, but there is no effective BC Parks management presence for enforcement. Municipal and Regional parks are both used extensively by the public and their pets, a trend that will continue to increase as Victoria’s population increases. Some recent initiatives to control off-leash dogs in some jurisdictions have met with public opposition and have not been successful.

2.1.6 Demographic collapse

All of the species in this recovery strategy are limited to a small number of populations that have been genetically isolated from other populations. Genetic isolation can drive local adaptation, which is generally beneficial but can make a species less able to adapt to environmental changes. Genetic isolation can also lead to a limited gene pool, inbreeding depression and genetic drift (Primack 1993 in Donovan and Douglas 2000). Over time, these factors in combination with environmental limitations present at the periphery of a species range, can result in low seed set, low seedling vigour, low flowering rates, low resilience and low recruitment.

Habitat fragmentation and limited dispersal can also lead to demographic collapse and low seed set.

2.1.7 Mowing

Interactions between the autecology of the individual species and the timing of mowing will determine the effect of mowing on species at risk. For example, mowing may partically mimic some aspect of fire and may control shrub encroachment into meadows. Mowing may have a positive effect on low-growing species such as bear’s-foot sanicle. However, mowing may have contributed to the extirpation of golden paintbrush from Beacon Hill Park (Hook pers. comm. 2004). Mowing at appropriate times should have minimal negative effects on reintroduced populations of Taylor’s checkerspot larvae and pupae, which remain near the ground. However, mowing will likely negatively affect re-established island marble larvae, which are found 15-80 cm above the ground (Guppy pers. comm. 2003; Miskelly pers. obs. 2004).

In some parks including Glencoe Cove Municipal Park in Saanich and Beacon Hill Park in the municipality of Victoria, specific areas are either not mowed or are mowed late in the year (after mid-August) to minimize adverse effects to plants at risk (Daly pers. comm. 2004; Raeroer pers. comm. 2004).

2.1.8 Changes to hydrology

Increased drainage, artificial ponding and elimination/diminution of water sources, notably vernal pools, can alter maritime meadows and degrade habitat. Irrigation common in urban areas and landscaped areas may encourage less stress-tolerant species, favouring exotic plant species. Landscaping adjacent to one bear’s-foot sanicle population is heavily irrigated and may be affecting populations and limiting suitable habitat where the species may have once existed (Donovan and Douglas 2000).

2.1.9 Climate change

Climatic change may cause warmer summers and more compressed spring periods than existed formerly. These effects may combine with hydrological changes to cause the gradual disappearance of relict populations that no longer enjoy the climatic conditions that favoured their establishment.

2.1.10 Re-introduction of fire

Further research is needed to determine whether reintroducing fire is a viable restoration option. Increased fuel loading will cause fires to be hotter and more catastrophic than the more frequent, cooler fires that would have occurred prior to fire suppression.

The direct response of species at risk to controlled burns is not known but hot fires will likely kill invertebrates (Nicolai 1991, Swengel 1996 and Siemann et al. 1997 in Fuchs 2001). Individual species autecology and the timing of the burn will determine the degree of effect. Taylor’s checkerspot pupae and larvae generally remain near the ground in cold or rainy weather and after they enter summer diapause (resting phase) (Guppy pers. obs. of Mill Bay population 2003; Hellman pers. comm. 2005; Ross pers. comm. 2004). The direct affect of a cool surface burn, completed at the appropriate time of the year, on the larvae or pupae of Taylor’s checkerspot is not known. Guppy (pers. comm. 2004) suggests that burns may directly kill many eggs, larvae or pupae of the island marble; eggs and larvae are found on the foodplants (15-80cm above the ground) (Miskelly pers. obs. 2004), which are vulnerable to fire and pupae are above the soil surface but attached to objects near the ground. Fires, at least in the short-term, may also eliminate or limit larval foodplants of both butterfly species.

Although frequent burns appear to suppress adult exotic grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) and orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata) (MacDougall 2002), many exotic species, including Scotch broom and common velvet-grass (Holcus lanatus) are favoured by fire and readily colonize any post-burn mineral soil that is exposed. While Scotch broom can increase after a single fire, it is not favoured by repeated burns. The presence of these exotic species, can in turn increase the flammability of ecosystems (D’Antonio and Vitousek 1992).

2.1.11 Threats with livestock grazing

Livestock were formerly grazed on Discovery, Trial, Chatham, Strongtide, VanTreight, and Griffin Islands. Intensive grazing coupled with cultivation and the introduction of exotic species dramatically altered Garry oak ecosystems, including maritime meadows (MacDougall et al. 2004). Grazing likely shifted the species composition, vegetation structure and nutrient cycling of these ecosystems (Hatch et al. 1999; Bartolome et al. 2004). Feral goats continue to graze Brown Ridge on Saturna Island. Site-specific consideration of the impacts of livestock grazing on maritime meadows will be needed before altering particular management regimes, as grazing can suppress shrub invasion (hence reduce other threats to the species of concern).

Livestock grazing tips the competitive balance of communities in favor of unpalatable species and, if grazed at the wrong time of year (i.e. spring), may decimate palatable species such as seaside birds-foot lotus. Grazing favours sod-forming grasses and overgrazing can also play a major role in the establishment and eventual dominance of exotic forage species (Saenz and Sawyer 1986 in Fuchs 2001) (refer to Threat 2). Grazing tramples butterfly larvae and may eliminate larval foodplants. Depending on the timing of grazing, island marble eggs and larvae may be consumed. Therefore, if grazing is to be ongoing in these ecosystems, knowledge of the phenology of plants and invertebrates (in particular lepidopterans) will be required to minimize damage to important life cycle stages.

2.1.12 Cutting and hand pulling of invasive plants

Managing invasive species may also affect species at risk. Habitat restoration for both butterfly species, which feed on exotic host plants, should focus on reintroductions of native foodplants rather than retaining exotic host plants such as ribwort plantain (Plantago lanceolata) for Taylor’s checkerspot and introduced weedy mustards for island marble.

The issue of providing suitable habitat for butterfly species through maintenance or encouragement of exotic host plants was considered. Such actions may be further considered in the development of a recovery action plan.

Hand pulling, or cutting invasive shrubs and piling and removal of slash material may trample plant species at risk. These activities may also damage all butterfly life stages and their foodplants. Many invasive plants are particularly adapted to colonize disturbed soils and the soil disturbance associated with invasive species removal may increase invasion by seedlings (Knops et al. 1995; Kotanen 2004). Ineffective control techniques (e.g. cutting young broom at stem level) may also threaten populations.

Other invasive species management tools include mowing (Threat 7) and prescribed burning (Threat 10).

2.1.13 Maintenance activities

Maintenance activities around radio towers (e.g. Seacoast Communications lease on Trial Island, on Department of National Defence lands and in parks) can damage species at risk. Potential threats include mowing (Threat 7), herbicide application, trampling, placement of heavy wires across the ground, stockpiling of materials and garbage, facility maintenance and transport of heavy materials and equipment from dock to facilities (Penny and Douglas 2001).

2.1.14 Herbivory

The concentration of native grazers and their herbivory patterns have changed with increased urbanization and habitat loss. Roosevelt elk (Cervus elaphus roosevelti), which were formerly more common in Garry oak and associated ecosystems, are now rarely encountered only in less populated areas of Vancouver Island. Columbian black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus) are now more densely concentrated on a smaller landbase than formerly. Development, decreased hunting, and fewer carnivores than formerly in populated areas have increased the density of deer populations. An increased food supply from agriculture, irrigation, and exotic plants provide a food source for deer later in the season than formerly available. In some areas, dogs may discourage ungulate populations. Deer do not live on Trial Island and are rare on Alpha and Griffin Island.

Ungulates browsing on shrubs, formerly associated with frequent low-intensity fires, favours the persistence of meadow species. Shrubs that survive fire are browsed sufficiently to shift the competitive balance further in favour of meadow species. Tall, palatable forbs with elevated meristems (growing tips) suffer greatly from grazing. Unpalatable species, low-growing forbs and grasses (which do not have elevated meristems) gain a competitive advantage. Changing herbivory patterns may cause positive or negative effects to species at risk depending on the palatability of the species (or their foodplants) and the palatability of competing vegetation. The effect of native invertebrate predators is not known. Insect seed predators, especially pre-dispersal seed predators that can destroy seed production from entire inflorescences, may seriously affect reproductive capabilities (Bigger 1999). Threat 11 discusses threats associated with livestock grazing.

2.1.15 Pesticides

Invasion by exotic gypsy moth has led to aerial spraying of Bacillus thuringiensis ssp. kurtaski (Btk) for control. Btk is lethal to most butterfly and moth larvae, and Taylor’s checkerspot and island marble larvae are actively feeding during the early spring when Btk is likely scheduled for application (Wagner and Miller, 1995; Nealis pers. comm. 2003). Btk at toxic concentrations can drift for over two miles from target spray areas (Whaley et al. 1998). Refer to GOERT (2002) for approaches for dealing with this threat (p.36).

2.1.16 Cultivation of non-native plants

Cultivation of non-native plants (e.g. lawns and horticultural plants) adjacent to occurrences of species at risk may introduce new invasive species, increase herbicide use, alter moisture regimes, and decrease native foodplants for butterflies. Horticultural plants may also escape from cultivation and become naturalized further adding to the problem of invasive species. Planting and maintenance of lawns and ornamental horticultural plants next to occurrences of bear’s-foot sanicle in Saxe Point Park may have eliminated suitable habitat for this species (Matt Fairbarns, pers. obs.).

2.1.17 Marine pollution

The Strait of Juan de Fuca is the most active shipping lane on the Pacific Coast north of San Francisco. The threat of oil tanker collisions and oil spills is prominent. In December 2003, a freighter was only 3 minutes of running aground on Trial Island (Victoria Times-Colonist 2003), a site for 5 of the 7 plant species in this strategy and one of the former locations for Taylor’s checkerspot.

Much of the maritime meadow habitat occurs next to the intertidal zone and is affected by saltspray during storm events and may be vulnerable to marine pollution. More research is needed to determine the current and potential effects of diffuse marine pollution and a catastrophic point source spill on species at risk.

2.1.18 Invasive invertebrates

The effect on nutrient cycling and ecosystem productivity by introduced earthworms requires further research (Fuchs 2001). Likewise, the effect of herbivory by the introduced black slug (Arion rufus) and seed predation by introduced insects on the species addressed in this recovery strategy is not known.

2.1.19 Invasive alien invertebrates

There has been minimal research on the effect of introduced vertebrates on species at risk in Garry oak ecosystems (GOERT 2002). Rabbits (Sylvilagus floridanus and Oryctolagus cuniculus) and rats (Rattus sp.) are found in maritime meadows and likely eat vegetation and seeds. Introduced birds such as the European starling (Sturnus vulgaris) and house sparrow (Passer domesticus) feed on invertebrates and may affect butterflies at risk. The effect of opossums (Didelphis virginiana) in Garry oak ecosystems on Denman and Hornby Islands has not been investigated.

2.2 Critical habitat

No critical habitat, as defined under the federal Species at Risk Act [s2], is proposed for identification at this time.

While much is known about the habitat needs of the species included within this recovery strategy, more definitive work must be completed before any specific sites can be formally proposed as critical habitat. It is expected that critical habitat will be proposed within one or more recovery action plans following: 1) consultation and development of stewardship options with affected landowners and organizations and 2) completion of outstanding work required to quantify specific habitat and area requirements for these species. A schedule of studies outlining work necessary to identify critical habitat is found below (Section 2.2.4).

Following completion of key work such as development and implementation of a landowner contact program, it is anticipated that proposed critical habitat may include habitat currently occupied by one or more species addressed within this recovery strategy. A more complete definition of proposed critical habitat that also incorporates potential habitat will be addressed at a later date, through the Recovery Action Plan.

A description of the biotic and abiotic features of each species’ habitat is included in each of the species-specific sections. A summary table of habitat attributes is included in section 1.3 Habitat area covered by the recovery strategy.

2.2.1 Occupied habitat

Proposed critical habitat should include occupied habitat, and surrounding buffers of appropriate potential habitat to allow dispersal and prevent invasion of invasive species. In order to accurately define the boundaries of each location on the ground for designation of critical habitat, further studies are needed, as detailed below (section 2.2.4). All confirmed locations supporting a viable or potential viable population of each species will form essential components of any proposed critical habitat. Island marble has been extirpated from Canada, so the only habitat occupied by this species occurs in the United States.

2.2.2 Potential habitat

Proposed critical habitat should include surrounding buffers of appropriate potential habitat to allow dispersal and prevent invasion of invasive species. In order to accurately define the boundaries of each location on the ground for designation of critical habitat, further studies are needed as detailed below (section 2.2.4).

The present distribution of each species is insufficient for full recovery of the species as defined under the species-specific recovery goals in section 2.4.2. Additional habitat needed by these species in order to maintain a self-sustaining and viable population level, is required to meet the needs of each species, and this will likely include extant maritime meadow ecosystems that remain in a near natural state. However, further research and research trials are required to determine the feasibility of translocations before critical habitat can be proposed for designation. Potential habitat may require extensive restoration and mitigation of adverse effects before it is suitable. Native foodplants may need to be introduced in sufficient quantity for habitat to support viable populations of both the island marble and Taylor’s checkerspot.

2.2.3 Examples of activities that are likely to result in destruction of any critical habitat identified in the future

Examples of activities that would be expected to result in the destruction of proposed critical habitat include:

  • Residential development
  • Recreational activities (bicycling, horseback riding, off-road vehicles, dog-walking)
  • Hydrological alterations (draining or ditching)
  • ivestock grazing
  • Maintenance activities (mowing, trail building, installment of structures, chemical use)

2.2.4 Schedule of studies to determine critical habitat

Further research in the following areas is required to define critical habitat for all seven plant and two invertebrate species:

  1. Document microhabitat conditions where populations now exist as well as the conditions that prevailed for locations of extirpated populations (i.e. critical abiotic and biotic features of habitat including: soil texture, soil depth, slope, aspect, hydrologic regime for the entire growing period, species composition, etc.). Particular attention should be paid to locations in Canada with robust populations and care should be taken not to extrapolate from conditions prevailing at remote locations where there may be major differences in the flora and macroclimate that invalidate comparisons. Suggested completion date: 2008.
  2. Work with landowners and land managers to develop mechanisms to protect and manage areas of important habitat for these species to ensure their survival and recovery. Suggested completion date: 2008
  3. For each population of species in which micro-catchment drainage patterns (small internal drainages in which most or all of the populations occur) determines viability of habitat, map the entire microcatchment area. Suggested completion date: 2010.
  4. etermine the suitability of contemporary habitat in locations where populations have been extirpated. Suggested completion date: 2010.
  5. dentify high quality unoccupied sites and conduct phenologically appropriate surveys to determine whether they possess the key hydrological and biotic attributes that prevail where the species occurs. Suggested completion date: 2010.
  6. est the suitability of high quality unoccupied sites identified in (4) by attempting to establish, maintain and monitor an experimental population in one of the locations. Suggested completion date: 2010.
  7. Identify and prioritize high quality unsurveyed sites and conduct phenologically appropriate surveys to determine the presence/absence of undocumented populations of extirpated species. Suggested completion date: 2009.

2.3 Recovery feasibility

For all species of plants and invertebrates in this strategy recovery is biologically and technically feasible.

It is difficult to fully ascertain the potential for recovery of maritime meadow species because there are significant information gaps. Further studies and trials are needed to determine whether there are insurmountable barriers to the maintaining or enhancing existing populations, the re-establishment of extirpated populations, and the establishment of new populations. For this reason, the ecological and technical feasibility of recovery may have to be re-evaluated once further research is conducted. For extirpated (or extremely rare) species where re-introductions are required for recovery, access to sufficient numbers of individuals without further threatening extant populations may be the limiting factor in the species recovery.


Table 5: Feasibility of recovery for all species
1. Are individuals capable of reproduction available to support recovery?YesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
2. Is habitat available for recovery or could it be made available through recovery actions?YesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
3. Can significant threats to the species or its habitat be avoided or mitigated through recovery actions?YesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
4. Do the necessary recovery techniques exist and are they demonstrated to be effective?YesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes

IM=island marble, TC=Taylor’s checkerspot, BOC= bearded owl-clover, BFS=bear’s-foot sanicle, CSC=coastal Scouler’s catchfly, GP=golden paintbrush, PL=prairie lupine, PS=purple sanicle, SBL=seaside birds-foot lotus.


2.3.1 Biological feasibility

Biological feasibility, defined here as the ability of a species to recover based solely on the inherent reproductive capability and the known biological needs of the species, is possible for all species. All of the plant species in this recovery strategy reproduce sexually and both butterfly species are likely capable of producing egg masses large enough for small populations to rebound within a short period of time. Source populations for translocations in the United States will be required for the recovery of island marble, Taylor’s checkerspot and prairie lupine. Populations of both butterfly species are also limited in the United States and may require genetic studies to determine the appropriateness of translocation.

Historical and contemporary records indicate all of the species in this recovery strategy have always had small numbers of naturally fragmented Canadian populations (details of known number of populations and population sizes are given in the species-specific sections). Species with low numbers of populations may have been stable or viable in the past. However, given the scarcity of historical records, it is difficult to determine whether low numbers of populations indicates historic rarity of the species or whether the species were previously more widespread in maritime meadows prior to European settlement and former locations have since been extirpated. However, all of the species have fewer numbers of populations due to habitat loss, suppression of ecological processes, invasive alien species and direct human effects rather than natural processes.

Although for most species the size of extant populations is relatively stable (e.g. bear’s-foot sanicle, coastal Scouler’s catchfly, golden paintbrush, purple sanicle, seaside birds-foot lotus), populations of some species show extreme year-to-year natural fluctuations in population size (e.g. bearded owl-clover, prairie lupine).

Securing quality habitat

While there have been declines in habitat quality and extent, there is no compelling evidence that sufficient habitat securement for recovery is impossible. Although some populations of plants at risk occur on private land, many of the populations occur in protected areas (Refer to Tables 11-17 for population information and land status of plant populations).

There is currently one known location of Taylor’s checkerspot on Denman Island. This location was confirmed in May 2005 in a fifteen-year old clear-cut. This population has likely colonized the site from a surrounding meadow habitat. There are no known habitats currently occupied by island marble. However, there is the potential for future surveys to find undocumented populations. Unless large new populations are found, recovery of extirpated species will rely on the ability to define the key habitat features necessary to sustain a population and on the success of translocations. In some cases, this may require translocation to sites not formerly occupied. For example, the only protected site that historically supported a population of the island marble is the heavily used Beacon Hill Park in the municipality of Victoria. This site may not be appropriate for reintroductions unless extensive measures are put in place to limit threats, as the introduced individuals may not survive.

Possibility of restoring habitat

Although many of the sites that historically supported maritime meadow populations remain protected in some capacity, the habitat may no longer be suitable. Recovery will require more thorough studies to determine which habitat attributes are required for each species in order to determine goals and techniques for restoration. Habitat restoration for the two butterfly species will need to ensure an adequate, continued and accessible supply of larval and nectar plants that matures over a wide range of phenology to support each species.

Feasibility of removing or mitigating threats

Although in some cases the specific threats are unknown or not fully understood, threats can likely be addressed through site-specific restoration plans and research aimed towards uncovering, clarifying or mitigating new threats.

2.3.2 Technical feasibility

Feasibility of translocations

Currently, a small pilot project is underway for experimental translocation of seeds to a small area of disturbed soil on Trial Island of three of the plant species (golden paintbrush, purple sanicle, and bear’s-foot sanicle) collected in adjacent habitat. Captive breeding and a rearing program for Taylor’s checkerspot is being developed by the Oregon Zoo (Miskelly pers. comm. 2004; Potter pers. comm. 2005) (Refer to Actions Completed or Underway). Captive rearing has not been completed for the island marble, and there is very little information on the life history of this species. If future translocation attempts are not successful, the degree of recovery (as defined by the species-specific goals) will need to be re-evaluated.

2.4 Multiple species recovery

This section provides goals and objectives for protecting and managing maritime meadow ecosystems to ensure adequate protection and management of the habitat for species at risk. Species-specific goals and objectives and the strategic approaches recommended to achieve them are detailed in this section.

2.4.1 Maritime meadow ecosystems goals and objectives

In order to prevent further declines, protect using stewardship and other mechanisms, moderate to high quality maritime meadow ecosystems, in association with moderate to high quality adjacent matrix. The connectivity of maritime meadow habitat should be maintained to allow dispersal, movement of pollinators, and limit invasion by exotic species. Most areas with maritime meadow habitat have not been identified or mapped, and this will be required in order to identify potential habitat for translocations and to re-establish new populations.

Recovery goal for maritime meadow ecosystems

ProtectFootnote 4 and restore moderate to high quality maritime meadow ecosystems and the adjacent matrix habitat throughout the geographic range.

Recovery objectives for maritime meadow ecosystems
  1. ProtectFootnote 4 using stewardship and other mechanisms, moderate to high quality locations with maritime meadow habitat in 5-10 years.
  2. Engage the cooperation of owners or managers of land critical for species conservation and recovery within 5 years.
  3. Determine habitat responses to restoration and to refine restoration targets in 5-10 years.
  4. Develop and implement appropriate management plans for maritime meadows and buffers to address invasive species and restore ecosystem processes in 5-10 years.

2.4.2 Species specific recovery goals, objectives and broad strategies

Each of the species addressed in this recovery strategy has a different autecology and different constraints for recovery. Before the feasibility of reintroductions for extirpated butterfly species can be more accurately assessed, it is necessary to increase the survey effort to determine whether remnant populations have been overlooked. This consideration is important to establish protection for these populations and to avoid further threats to any possible small overlooked populations through contamination of the local gene pool.

Specific numerical targets for each plant species are based on the number of historical populations, the number of populations required to distribute the species throughout its former range and the number of populations required to provide robustness to withstand stochastic events and environmental variability (Table 6). In order to create new populations of all of the plant species, translocations will be required. A draft policy document to guide translocations is currently being developed (Maslovat in prep.).

Species specific recovery goals

Recovery goals have been developed by evaluating the number of historic populations and by assessing COSEWIC criteria. For most species, minimum population sizes are to be determined by future viability analysis. COSEWIC Criteria established COSEWIC’s Assessment Process and Criteria (COSEWIC 2003b).


Table 6: Recovery goals for maritime meadow species at risk
SpeciesCOSEWIC CriteriaFootnote aRecovery Goals
Island marbleNone givenTo attain viable, self-sustaining populations of island marble within the species’ historic range in Canada.
Taylor’s checkerspotB1 and B2c; C2aTo attain viable self-sustaining populations of Taylor’s checkerspot with the species’ historic range in Canada.
Bearded owl-cloverB1a + B1bii and B2a + B2bii

To attain viable self-sustaining populations of bearded owl-clover distributed throughout its historic range in Canada with a minimum of at least eight populations by:

  • Maintaining or enhancing all seven existing populations/ subpopulations at no less than their current levels of abundance and increasing smaller ones.
  • Establishing one experimental population with an average annual population size of at least 300 flowering individuals
Bear’s-foot sanicleB1a +B1bii and B2a + B2bii

To attain viable self-sustaining populations of bear’s-foot sanicle distributed throughout its historic range in Canada with a minimum of at least ten viable populations by:

  • Maintaining all eight existing populations/ subpopulations at no less than their current levels of abundance.
  • Restoring at least two extirpated populations or establishing at least two new populations
Coastal Scouler’s catchflyB1a + B1bii and B2a + B2bii

To attain viable self-sustaining populations of coastal Scouler’s catchfly distributed throughout its historic range in Canada with a minimum of at least eight populations by:

  • Maintaining both extant populations/ subpopulations at no less than their current levels of abundance.
  • Establishing at least six additional populations
Golden paintbrushB1a + B1bii and B2a + B2bii

To attain viable and self-sustaining populations of golden paintbrush distributed throughout its historic range in Canada with a minimum of at least nine populations by:

  • Maintaining both existing populations at their current levels of abundance.
  • Establishing at least seven new populations
Prairie lupineB1a + B1bii and B2a + B2bii and D1

To attain viable and self-sustaining populations of prairie lupine distributed throughout its historic range in Canada by:

  • Managing and enhancing the single extant population
  • Establishing additional populations with numbers to be determined by future research
Purple sanicleB1a + B1bii and B2a + B2bii

To attain viable and self-sustaining populations of purple sanicle throughout its historic range in Canada with a minimum of at least ten populations by:

  • Maintaining all extant populations/ subpopulations at no less than their current levels of abundance.
  • Managing at least eight of the smaller, existing populations (including at least one in the southern Gulf Islands) such that their numbers increase
Seaside birds-foot lotusB1a + B1bii and B2a + B2bii

To attain viable and self-sustaining populations of seaside birds-foot lotus throughout its historic range with a minimum of at least six populations by:

  • Maintaining all five extant populations/subpopulations, increasing small populations and conserving larger populations at their current levels of abundance.
  • Establishing one additional population containing at least 100 flowering individuals per year.


Footnote A

Taken from COSEWIC 2003b.

B=Small Distribution, and Decline or Fluctuation

  1. Extent of occurrence <5 000 km2 for endangered, <20 000 km2 for threatened or
  2. Area of occupancy <500 km2 for endangered, <2 000 km2 for threatened For either of the above, specify at least two of a-c:
    1. Either severely fragmented or known to exist at ≤5 locations for endangered, ≤10 locations for threatened
    2. Continuing decline observed, inferred or projected in ii) area of occupancy
    3. Extreme fluctuations in any of the following: > 1 order of magnitude for endangered; > 1 order of magnitude for threatened) i) extent of occurrence; ii) area of occupancy; iii) number of locations or populations; iv) number of mature individuals.

C= Small Total Population Size and Decline

  1. Number of mature individuals <2 500 for endangered, <10 000 for threatened
  2. Continuing decline observed, projected, or inferred, in numbers of mature individuals. a) fragmentation

D= Very Small Population or Restricted Distribution

  1. # of mature individuals <250 for endangered, <1 000 for threatened

Return to footnote a


Species specific objectives

The following objectives (Table 7) are required to meet the above species-specific goals. They have been drafted to be completed in a five to ten year time frame. The objectives are roughly ranked in descending order of priority although this may vary between species.


Table 7: Species-specific recovery objectives
General ObjectivesFootnote aIMTCBOCBFSCSCGPPLPSSB
1. Establish protectionFootnote b for existing known populations5-105-105-105-105-105-105-105-105-10
2. Engage the cooperation of all involved landowners and land managers in habitat protection<5<5<5<5<5<5<5<5<5
3. Identify life history, dispersal and habitat constraints and methods for mitigating them5-105-105-105-105-105-105-105-105-10
4. Determine the causes of extirpation, and/or population decrease or loss5-105-105-105-105-105-105-105-105-10
5. Develop and implement a habitat monitoring and restoration plan for locations with confirmed records, or in the case of extirpated species, for sites designated as potential habitat5-105-105-105-105-105-105-105-105-10
6. Identify and prioritize sites for inventories and conduct surveys to determine whether there are any undocumented populations (i.e. to determine necessity of re-introductions)5-105-10555N/A555
7. Identify critical habitat required to establish new populations, as outlined in species-specific goals5-105-105-105-105-105-105-105-105-10
8. Develop techniques and priorities to establish new populations and one experimental population per species (if appropriate based on above research)5-105-105-105-105-105-105-105-105-10

IM=island marble, TC=Taylor’s checkerspot, BOC= bearded owl-clover, BFS=bear’s-foot sanicle, CSC=coastal Scouler’s catchfly, GP=golden paintbrush, PL=prairie lupine, PS=purple sanicle, SBL=seaside birds-foot lotus.


Footnote A

Numbers in table indicate the number of years required to complete the objective. For extirpated populations, the timeframes indicated in O.1 and O.2 will apply to any newly found populations.

Return to footnote a

Footnote B

This may involve protection in any form including stewardship agreements and conservation covenants on private lands, land use designations on crown lands, and protection in municipal parks and other types of land tenures.

Return to footnote b


Research and management activities required to meet recovery objectives

Recovery activities have been grouped in seven broad approaches to address the threats and meet the recovery objectives (Table 8). These are roughly ranked in descending order with the most urgent activities listed first, although this may vary between species.

  1. Habitat and species protection: A primary focus of this recovery strategy is to prevent further loss and fragmentation of maritime meadow habitats. Habitat with known occurrences of species at risk should be protected and any new occurrences as they are discovered should become priorities for protection. Protection will include protection of private lands through acquisition and through conservation covenants and other voluntary stewardship agreements.

  2. Habitat stewardship: Involving landowners/land managers in effective management of maritime meadows habitat will be key to the recovery of species at risk. This will include developing proactive communication with different landowners/land managers and involving them in the recovery planning process. It is also necessary to determine the legislation, regulations and policy that apply to different public landowners. Landowners/land managers should also be encouraged to collaborate with researchers, participate in and support restoration and monitoring projects.

  3. Research: Identifying habitat attributes and native butterfly food plants is essential for the delineation of critical habitat. Demographic research is required to assess recovery potential and to assess and monitor the viability of populations. Genetic research will be required to inform the establishment of experimental populations. Research is also required to determine the effects of threats such as: climate change, the re-introduction of fire, invasive species, herbivory and predation.

  4. Mapping and inventory: Inventory to identify the complete range and extent of maritime meadow species at risk will help to clarify habitat characteristics and aid in the delineation of critical habitat. Inventory may find undocumented populations of some species and will minimize the risk of genetic contamination with experimental population trials.

  5. Habitat restoration: Effective, informed restoration is critical to restore ecosystem processes, restore habitat for species at risk and mitigate threats.

  6. Public outreach and education: Developing and distributing information about maritime meadows and their species at risk will help minimize the threats associated with public use of these habitats. Involving the public may also help with identifying undocumented populations, especially for the butterfly species. Workshops and presentations at community meetings are effective tools for educating landowners.

  7. Experimental population trials: Establishing new populations utilizing adaptive management for some of the maritime meadows species at risk will help meet long-term species specific goals. Such experiments will also further our understanding of the biology and ecology of species at risk.


Table 8: Strategies to effect recovery
PriorityObj. No.Broad Approach/StrategyThreatFootnote aGeneral Description
Urgent1, 2, 7Habitat and species protection1, 3, 5, 6Develop priorities for acquisition or protection (e.g. covenants and other stewardship agreements) of sites in conjunction with the Conservation Planning and Site Protection RIG of GOERT.
Urgent1, 2Habitat stewardship1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16Identify which private and public landowners have populations of species at risk and/or maritime meadow ecosystems that occur on their lands. Contact landowners through the public outreach program through GOERT or other organizations for stewardship to protect the species.
Necessary3, 4, 5, 7, 8Research2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 14, 18, 19

Determine priorities for research and conduct research where necessary to determine specific information gaps:

  • determine habitat attributes for each species
  • determine whether there are bottlenecks affecting pollination/reproduction, dispersal, seed/egg production, recruitment, recruit survival
  • determine which larval and nectar food plants are required by Lepidopterans and the required distribution and abundance of food plants
  • determine appropriate restoration and adaptive management for each species and their habitat including threats such as invasive species, woody species encroachment as well as restoring ecological processes, etc.
  • determine taxonomic variation with respect to US populations if required
Necessary3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8Mapping and inventory2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 14Determine habitat attributes for species at risk
Necessary2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8Mapping and inventory1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8Assess existing meadows to prioritize for other activities including acquisition, restoration, translocation of species at risk, etc. Conduct inventories for new species at risk in maritime meadow habitats.
Necessary1, 3, 4, 5, 7Habitat restoration2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 10Determine the need for and feasibility of restoration and, if appropriate, develop and conduct trials for maritime meadow restoration
Beneficial3, 4, 5, 6Public education and outreach2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 16Develop priorities in conjunction with GOERT’s Public Education and Extension Specialist and other organizations, to deliver public education and outreach concerning species at risk, their habitats and their management (e.g. to naturalist and outdoor recreation clubs, schools, First Nations, local governments, land owners, land managers and stakeholders)
Beneficial1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8Experimental population trials1, 3, 6, 9Determine the need for establishing new populations, and if appropriate, determine locations for translocations.


Footnote A

Threats are as follows: 1. Habitat destruction. 2. Invasive plants. 3. Habitat fragmentation. 4. Changes in native vegetation composition from altered fire regimes. 5. Recreation. 6. Demographic collapse. 7. Mowing. 8. Changes to hydrology. 9. Climate change. 10. Effects of re-introducing fire. 11. Livestock grazing. 12. Cutting or hand pulling of invasive plants. 13. Maintenance activities. 14. Herbivory. 15. Pesticides. 16. Landscaping of non-native plants. 17. Marine pollution. 18. Invasive invertebrates. 19. Invasive vertebrates.

Return to footnote a


2.4.3 Knowledge gaps common to all or most species

There are many knowledge gaps common to all or most species. The following knowledge gaps are ranked roughly in descending order of importance for recovery although this may vary between species (Summary in Table 9).

  1. Effects of invasive species and responses of invasive species, species at risk and habitat to management: This includes the effect of woody encroachment due to altered disturbance regimes; responses of species at risk and their habitat to management, restoration and invasive species control; lack of targets for restoration activities; traditional landscape management, and the use of fire, and species-specific responses to the re-introduction of fire regimes.
  2. Detailed characteristics and delineation of suitable habitat, particularly for extirpated populations: This includes the range of habitat suitable for each species (e.g. soil characteristics, microhabitat, etc.), minimum habitat patch sizes, matrix composition, and the effectiveness of buffers and linkages at allowing dispersal of species between habitat patches; soil processes including the role and identification of mycorrhizae, soil fauna and the effect of introduced species (including earthworms); specific native and introduced larval and nectar food plants for island marble and Taylor’s checkerspot.
  3. Species-specific demographic and dispersal information: This includes defining where demographic bottlenecks for each species occur (ie. seed or egg production, dispersal, recruitment, recruitment survivorship, etc.) and the effect of limited gene pools on reproductive capacity.
  4. Accurate species distributions and total numbers of populations: Not all historical locations have been inventoried to determine if populations still persist. Systematic surveys are required to determine accurate species distribution and population information and to ensure all populations are protected and appropriately managed.
  5. Trophic and other ecological interactions:This includes the role of species at risk in their respective habitats including the degree and effect of interactions with native and introduced herbivores, pests and diseases and pollination in maritime meadows.
  6. Ex situ germination/ propagation methodologies for plants and captive breeding/rearing techniques for butterflies: Although most of the species in this recovery strategy have been propagated ex situ, they have not been subjected to rigorous propagation or captive breeding studies. There is limited information about re-establishing these species in the wild.
  7. Nature of genetic differences between US and Canadian populations of prairie lupine, Taylor’s checkerspot and island marble: Although the taxonomy of most species is well defined, genetic studies are required to clarify taxonomy for prairie lupine and the island marble. Genetic studies are also required to compare Canadian populations of species at risk to their US counterparts since many populations are widely disjunct and may be genetically distinct. This information will provide an important foundation for identifying donor populations for translocation attempts.


Table 9: Knowledge gaps common to all or most species
1. Effects of invasive species and the response of invasive species, species at risk and habitat to managementKGapKGapKGapKGapKGapKGapKGapKGapKGap
2. Detailed characteristics and delineation of suitable habitatKGapKGapKGapKGapKGapKGapKGapKGapIn prog.
3. Species-specific demographic and dispersal informationKGapKGapKGapKKKKGapKK
4. Accurate species distributions and total numbers of populations KGapKGapKGapKKGapKGapKGapKGap
5. Trophic and other ecological interactionsKGapKGapKGapKGapKGapKGapKGapKGapKGap
6. Ex situ germination/ propagation methodologies for plants and captive breeding/rearing techniques for butterfliesKGapKGapLimStKKKLimStLimStKGap
7. Nature of genetic differences between US and Canadian populations of prairie lupine, Taylor’s checkerspot and Island marbleKGapKGapKGapKGapKGapKKGapKGapKGap

IM=island marble, TC=Taylor’s checkerspot, BOC= bearded owl-clover, BFS=bear’s-foot sanicle, CSC=coastal Scouler’s catchfly, GP=golden paintbrush, PL=prairie lupine, PS=purple sanicle, SBL=seaside birds-foot lotus. KGap means this is a knowledge gap for this species. “K” indicates there is some knowledge in the area, LimSt indicates limited studies.


2.4.4 Management effects on other species/ecological processes

Garry oak and associated ecosystems are home to a large number of at risk taxa including 3 mosses, 71 plants, 1 earthworm, 3 dragonflies/damselflies, 5 true bugs, 2 flies, 13 butterflies, 2 reptiles, 14 birds and 3 mammals (list available online on the British Columbia Marine Conservation Analysis website) (GOERT 2004). Because of the large number of taxa at risk and the high concentrations of rare species at some locations, it is not possible to describe all of the possible positive and negative effects associated with recovery. These management effects must be addressed at a later stage either in the Recovery Action Plan, or during on-site evaluations. A comprehensive list of co-occurring plant species is included below (Table 10). In addition, potential effects on vertebrate and invertebrate species at risk are discussed.

There are potential negative interactions between the butterfly and plant species addressed in this recovery strategy. Island marbles feed on introduced mustard (Brassica and Sisymbrium spp.) as well as Lepidium spp. (including Lepidium virginicum). Restoration should focus on the planting of the native species. Historic populations of Taylor’s checkerspot on Alpha and Trial Islands may have used golden paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta) as a food plant, although this has not been confirmed (Miskelly pers. comm. 2004). Taylor’s checkerspot larvae have also been found on Tryphysaria pusilla and may feed on other owl-clover species (Potter pers. comm. 2005). Invasive species management should be coordinated with butterfly life cycles.

The provincially red-listed Coastal Vesper Sparrows affinis subspecies (Pooecetes gramineus affinis), the endangered Horned Lark strigata subspecies (Eromophila alpestris strigata), and the Georgia depression population of Western Meadowlarks (Sturnella neglecta) are known to use native grasslands and open habitat with short, sparse vegetation. Garry oak and associated ecosystems may be necessary for their recovery (Beauchesne 2002; Beauchesne et al. 2002; COSEWIC 2003a). Although there is no current overlap of confirmed sites, Coastal Vesper Sparrows and Western Meadowlarks may benefit from recovery actions outlined in this strategy. Control of invasive species may be beneficial provided it is not done during breeding season at confirmed locations of these species: early May to late June for Vesper Sparrows and early April to end of July for Meadowlarks (Beauchesne 2002; Beauchesne et al. 2002). Consideration of the use of shrubs for breeding purposes is necessary in invasive species control (i.e. potentially replacing invasive broom with native ocean spray, Nootka rose and saskatoon). This should be approached with caution as potential for some shrub species to affect the plant species at risk, in particular the Nootka rose which is rhizomatous.

Portions of Garry oak and associated ecosystems may be designated as critical habitat for the Horned Lark strigata subspecies, since little other potential habitat remains intact. Ongoing communication between GOERT, its relevant Recovery Implementation Groups, and the Horned Lark strigata subspecies & Vesper sparrow affinis subspecies Recovery Team will need to continue.

Although both Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias fanninni) and Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus anatum) are found at locations that roughly overlap with maritime meadow species at risk, there are no anticipated negative effects to either of these species associated with recovery of the rare plants and butterflies.

Given the large number of co-occurring plants at risk in maritime meadow ecosystems, it is not possible to discuss all possible interactions associated with recovery.

Recovery of the species covered in this recovery strategy will likely benefit other species at risk. For example:

  • Increased public education and awareness may limit harmful recreational activities in locations with species at risk.
  • Management of invasive species may restore habitat for other plant species at risk.

However, recovery of the species covered in this recovery strategy may negatively affect other plants at risk. For example:

  • If not planned and implemented very carefully, large-scale management actions, such as invasive species removal, may have a negative effect on other plants at risk (e.g. through trampling, increased herbivory and inadvertent dispersal of alien species during disposal).
  • All on-site activities (surveys, research and management) to aid recovery pose a threat from trampling to co-occurring rare species that occur in or near maritime meadow ecosystems, unless care is taken to avoid damage.


Table 10: Co-occurring plant species at risk
SpeciesCommon nameSubnational (Provincial Rank)COSEWIC Status
Agrostis pallensdune bentgrassS3 
Allium amplectensslimleaf onionS3 
Allium geyeri var. tenerumGeyer’s onionS2 
Alopecurus carolinianusCarolina meadow-foxtailS2 
Anagallis minimachaffweedS2S3 
Balsamorhiza deltoideadeltoid balsamrootS1E
Callitriche marginatawinged water-starwortS1P
Carex tumulicolafoothill sedgeS1P
Castilleja ambigua ssp. ambiguapaintbrush owl-cloverS2 
Centaurium muehlenbergiiMuhlenberg’s centauryS1P
Clarkia amoenafarewell-to-springS2S3 
Clarkia purpurea ssp. quadrivulneratwiggy godetiaS1 
Claytonia rubra ssp. depressaredstem springbeautyS3 
Crassula aquaticapigmyweedS3 
Crassula connata var. connataerect pigmyweedS2 
Epilobium densiflorumdense spike-primroseS1E
Helenium autumnalemountain sneezeweedS2S3 
Heterocodon rariflorumheterocodonS3 
Idahoa scapigerascalepodS2 
Isoetes nuttalliiNuttall’s quillwortS3 
Juncus kelloggiiKellogg’s rushS1E
Limnanthes macouniiMacoun’s meadow-foamS3SC
Lomatium dissectumfern-leaved desert-parsleyS1 
Lotus unifoliolatus var. unifoliolatusSpanish cloverS2S3 
Lupinus densiflorus var. densiflorusdense-flowered lupineS1E
Meconella oreganawhite meconellaS2E
Microseris bigeloviicoast microserisS1P
Orthocarpus bracteosusrosy owl-cloverS1E
Plagiobothrys tenellusslender popcornflowerS2 
Piperia eleganselegant rein orchidS2S3 
Psilocarphus elatiortall woolly-headsS1E
Ranunculus alismifoliuswater-plantain buttercupS1E
Ranunculus californicusCalifornia buttercupS1 
Romanzoffia tracyiTracy’s romanzoffiaS3 
Rupertia physodesCalifornia-teaS3 
Sagina decumbens ssp. occidentaliswestern pearlwortS3 
Seriocarpus rigiduswhite-top asterS2T
Sidalcea hendersoniiHenderson’s checker-mallowS3 
Spergularia macrotheca var. macrothecabeach sand-spurryS2S3 
Trifolium depauperatum var. depauperatumpoverty cloverS3 
Triteleia howelliiHowells’ triteleiaS1E
Viola howelliiHowell’s violetS2S3 
Viola praemorsa ssp. praemorsayellow montane violetS2T

Status: E =endangered, T =threatened, SC =Special Concern, P =proposed for COSEWIC listing, S-ranks assigned by as per BC Conservation Data Centre


2.4.5 Examples of recovery actions already completed or underway

The following recovery actions apply to one or more of the species at risk and are linked to the broad strategies for recovery activities (Section V. 2.). A more comprehensive list of recovery actions has been compiled in a background document (Fairbarns and Maslovat 2005).

Relevant recovery strategies
  • Miller, M. In prep. National Multi-Species Recovery Strategy for Plants at Risk in Vernal Pools and Other Ephemeral Wet Areas Associated with Garry Oak Ecosystems.
  • Douglas, G.W. and S. Smith. In prep. National Multi-species Recovery Strategy for Woodland Species Associated with Garry Oak Ecosystems.
Habitat protection
  • GOERT’s Conservation Planning and Site Protection RIG has developed a list of sites for which it is a priority to raise local securement and protection.
  • CRD Parks Best Management Practices for marking, building and maintaining trails in open, rocky areas (Maslovat 2003).
Habitat stewardship
  • GOERT Invertebrates at Risk Recovery Implementation Group public lectures held on Saltspring Island and Hornby Island to inform local landowners about butterflies at risk in the Garry oak ecosystems.
Demographic and genetic research
  • GOERT has supported, initiated and/or continued research regarding
    • rare butterfly ecology
    • butterfly diversity in relation to fragmentation, climate change, habitat loss, and exotic shrub invasion
    • fire history
    • indigenous ecological management
    • effects of mammalian herbivores and exotic plants on plant diversity
    • restoration strategies.
    • Research on demographic and phenological patterns of several plants at risk (Fairbarns in. prep. a-e.).
Mapping and inventory
  • Identification of critical components of suitable butterfly habitat and potential sites for native habitat restoration (M.Sc. Thesis, Miskelly pers. comm. 2004).
  • Inventory of the major Gulf Islands and Saanich Inlet for Taylor’s checkerspot and island marble (Guppy and Fischer 2001).
  • Identification of critical components of suitable seaside birds-foot lotus habitat (in progress, Fairbarns 2005)
Habitat restoration
  • Research in Helliwell Provincial Park on Hornby Island to determine quality of checkerspot habitat and response to restoration (M.Sc. Thesis, Miskelly pers. comm. 2004).
  • Draft Invasive Species Management Plan for all DND properties (Smith pers. comm. 2004) • CRD Parks Mill Hill Regional Park Restoration Plan (CRD Parks 2003)
  • CRD Parks Mill Hill Regional Park Restoration Plan (CRD Parks 2003)
  • Volunteer removal of invasive shrubs and vines from Harling Point in Victoria supported by Parks Canada, the municipality of Oak Bay and the Chinese Benevolent Society.
Public outreach and education
  • GOERT’s Species at Risk in Garry Oak and Associated Ecosystems in British Columbia stewardship manual (GOERT 2003).
  • CRD Parks draft communications plan for the Sooke Hills Wilderness Area and Mount Wells Regional Park (Groves pers. comm. 2004).
  • Garry Oak Ecosystems Invertebrates at Risk RIG public presentations to inform local landowners about the butterflies at risk in the Garry oak ecosystems (Heron pers. comm. 2004).
Experimental population trials
  • Preparation of a draft reintroduction plan for Castilleja levisecta (golden paintbrush) that can inform reintroduction procedures in Canada for all maritime meadow species (Caplow 2001).
  • A captive rearing program for Taylor’s checkerspot is being developed at Oregon Zoo (Potter pers. comm. 20054).
  • Staff from the City of Victoria Parks Department are testing methods for propagating golden paintbrush (Hook pers. comm. 2004).

2.4.6 Statement of when Recovery Action Plan (RAP) will be completed

A draft action plan should be completed by March 2010.

2.4.7 Socioeconomic considerations

Recovery of species at risk and restoration of imperiled habitats associated with Garry oak ecosystems will contribute to biodiversity, health and functioning of the environment and enhance opportunities for appreciation of such special places and species thereby contributing to overall social value in southwestern British Columbia. The natural beauty of Garry oak ecosystems in the lower mainland, Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island are an important resource for British Columbians that provide for a robust tourism and recreation industry. Protecting these natural spaces, biodiversity, opportunities for nature appreciation, spiritual renewal and other recreation values has enormous value to the local economy.

Some activities occurring in and around maritime meadows can impact sensitive species at risk. Deleterious impacts on species at risk and the integrity of these spaces may occur through activities that:

  • modify or damage ecological processes important for maintenance of these sites,
  • directly or indirectly introduce species, native or non-native, that alter the biotic or abiotic environment in a manner detrimental to processes important for the perpetuation of Maritime Meadows,
  • directly damage or destroy an individual species at risk (such as through trampling or wheeled activities), or
  • modify or destroy maritime meadows (such as through complete terra-forming).

Recovery actions could potentially affect the following socioeconomic sectors: recreation; private land development; operations and maintenance activities. The expected magnitude of these effects is expected to be low in almost all cases.

Maritime meadows are rare on the landscape: the overall land area required for physical protection of these sites is relatively small within the region. Effective mitigation of potentially detrimental activities can be accomplished through careful planning and environmental assessment of proposed developments and site activities and sensitive routing of travel corridors and recreational activities with minimal negative economic consequences in most instances.

Recovery of maritime meadows and their associated species at risk will require intelligent planning for any development, and determination of appropriate uses for sensitive locations. Managers of public lands such as parks can provide appropriate opportunities for site access and manage site infrastructure in a manner that helps maintain and improve maritime meadows under their stewardship.

2.4.8 Evaluation and measure of success

Performance measures that can be used to evaluate the success of recovery include:

  • Number of high priority sites protected. This may involve protection in any form including stewardship agreements and conservation covenants on private lands, land use designations on crown lands, and protection in municipal parks and other types of land tenures.
  • Change or maintenance in provincial or national rank of species at risk covered in this recovery strategy
  • Creation of a ranking system to prioritize maritime meadow sites for acquisition and protection under stewardship agreements
  • Creation of economic or other incentives for private landowners to protect maritime meadows
  • Number of communication and outreach plans developed for maritime meadows
  • Creation of prairie lupine and coastal Scouler’s catchfly species at risk stewardship manual insert sheets
  • Number of management plans developed for each specific maritime meadow location
  • Number of sites with appropriate management for maritime meadows implemented
  • Evidence of long-term viability of species at sites where stewardship and protection are in place
  • Refinement of critical habitat description (based on research to address knowledge gaps)
  • Creation of a translocation Decision Support Tool (or Best Management Practices) or equivalen
  • Creation of a seedbank program and a captive rearing program
  • Number of new locations for species (where additional surveys are recommended in the objectives) through surveys and reports from the public
  • Number of participants at the Garry oak ecosystems butterfly blitz
  • Number of landowners given informational materials and best management practice guidelines for maritime meadow species at risk on their property.
  • Number of visitors to the invertebrates at risk website and the Garry oak ecosystems recovery team website.
  • Number of locations in which habitat is improved by carefully removing invasive species
  • Information sharing with the US counterparts managing recovery in the United States.
  • Listing of maritime meadow species at risk under the BC Wildlife Act
  • Number of municipalities that use the BC Community Charter to enact bylaws, agreements etc. to protect maritime meadow species at risk under the BC Community Charter


Footnote 4

This may involve protection in any form including voluntary stewardship agreements and conservation covenants on private lands, land use designations on crown lands, and protection in municipal parks and other types of land tenures.

Return to footnote 4