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Recovery Strategy for the Engelmann's Quillwort (Isoetes engelmannii) in Canada (Proposed)


3.0 Knowledge Gaps

The recovery objectives emphasize the need to undertake some basic ecological investigations of this species. The ecology of the genus Isoetes has long been neglected in North America due to our inability, until the last decade, to confidently identify individual plants. The subtlety and variability of aquatic habitats complicates this further. Why, for example, are Engelmann's and Eaton's quillwort found at some sites along the Severn and Gull Rivers but not at other seemingly identical sites along those waterways? Further determination of the basic ecological requirements of Canadian Engelmann's quillwort is required for this species in order to decipher specific habitat characteristics.

Similarly, the geographic and biological affinities of widely disjunct populations are not known. It will be necessary to genetically determine such connections to assess appropriate recruitment and restocking options, if necessary, as well as to provide insight into the origin of this species and perhaps other rare disjuncts in Canada.

A mechanism for distinguishing the depauperate Canadian Engelmann's quillwort plants from associated aquatic quillworts without resorting to the removal of leaves and the examination of megaspores is currently being assessed. Only generalized and inaccurate population detection and population census, which are estimated only from sampled populations, can occur. A practical, non-destructive, and more accurate technique for identification would dramatically improve our monitoring and investigative productivity. Further work on this is required.

More research is required to fully understand the actual threats to Engelmann's quillwort in Canada and their relative priority. Further and refined knowledge on actual threats is essential to ensure that effective mitigation measures are put into place and that threats to habitat are minimized/alleviated.