Skip booklet index and go to page content

Recovery Strategy for Deerberry (Vaccinium stamineum) in Canada

1. Additional sections to achieve SARA compliancy

1.1 Population and distribution objectives

The recovery goal for Deerberry is "to ensure that Deerberry persists in its natural habitat at known sites with no decline in population sizes over the short term and with increases in both number of populations and population sizes until it is deemed that the species is no longer at risk in either of the two regions where it is found in Ontario" (see page 14 of the appended Provincial Recovery Strategy).

To meet the recovery goal, the population and distribution objectives for Deerberry in Canada are as follows:

  1. Halt the decline of mature individuals and number of populations.
  2. Increase the number of populations to 10 or more, if introduction or re-introduction of 'new' populations is deemed feasible.

Rationale:

In 2000, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) assessed Deerberry as Threatened because of its small distribution range, small population size, and continuing decline in extent of occurrence, index of occupancy, area, extent and/or quality of habitat, number of locations or populations, and number of mature individuals. Objective I is meant to address the decline in extent of occurrence, index of area of occupancy, area, extent and/or quality of habitat, number of locations or populations, and number of mature individuals. Objective II is meant to raise the number of populations to 10 or more, based on the assumption that doing so is likely to increase the total number of mature individuals to above 1000, the threshold used by COSEWIC to designate a species as Threatened based solely on the population size. Distributing those mature individuals in 10 or more locations will also increase the likelihood of persistence of the species. Achieving these objectives may result in the downlisting of the species from Threatened to Special Concern.

Introduction of Deerberry plants has been attempted at four locations in St. Lawrence Islands National Park. As of 2010, plants at only one of the introduced locations is considered very healthy and many have not survived due to competition or stresses (e.g. shaded out by other Vaccinium species or overgrazed by hyperabundant White-tailed Deer). Please refer to Appendix II for more information on these introductions. Further research is being conducted in order to determine the long-term feasibility of Deerberry introductions.

1.2 Critical habitat identification

Section 2.5 of the Ontario Recovery Strategy for Deerberry provides a recommendation for an area to be considered in developing a habitat regulation (as defined under the Endangered Species Act, 2007). Recommendation for a habitat regulation is not a component of a recovery strategy prepared under the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Instead, SARA requires an identification of critical habitat in federal recovery strategies. As such, the critical habitat section outlined here replaces section 2.5 of the appended Ontario Recovery Strategy for Deerberry (attached as Appendix III).

Critical habitat is defined in the SARA (2002) section 2(1) as "the habitat that is necessary for the survival or recovery of a listed wildlife species and that is identified as the species' critical habitat in the recovery strategy or in an action plan for the species."

Information used to identify critical habitat

The locations and attributes of critical habitat were identified using the best available information, including information gathered from the Province of Ontario, St. Lawrence Islands National Park, and a variety of academic sources. The majority of the information used to identify critical habitat came from detailed community assessments and classifications (completed as recently as 2009), a Habitat Suitability Index Model developed for the Thousand Islands populations, and survey and monitoring data.

Thousand Islands region

In the Thousand Islands Region natural Deerberry populations occur in eight different Ecological Land Classification (ELC) vegetation types (Lee et. al., 1998):

  1. Dry - fresh red oak deciduous forest type (FODM1-1)
  2. Dry - fresh White pine - oak mixed forest type (FOMM2-1)
  3. Dry - fresh oak - hickory deciduous forest type (FODM2-2)
  4. Dry oak - pine calcareous shallow mixed forest (FOMR2)
  5. Dry Pitch pine - oak non-calcareous bedrock mixed forest type (FOMR2-1)
  6. Dry red oak woodland type (open, tall-treed) (WODM3-1)
  7. Dry - fresh mixed woodland ecosite (WOMM3)
  8. Blueberry non-calcareous shrub rock barren type (RBSB2-1)

The three natural populations in the Thousand Islands Region are found exclusively on three islands, respectively, with all plants growing close to the shoreline. The distance from the nearest shoreline location to Deerberry plants is approximately 30 metres. Light and moisture levels are influenced by the waterfront edge and height of dominant trees found inland of Deerberry plants. Moving inland, forest communities become increasingly moist and shaded and unsuitable for Deerberry. A core group of experts from the Deerberry Recovery Team, as well as other local experts, have recommended that a 30 metre area surrounding each Deerberry plant is sufficient to support the persistence of Deerberry and generally encompasses the ecological community in which the species occurs.

Niagara region

Of the seven populations known to occur in the Niagara area, six are now extirpated. It is unknown whether the locations of the six extirpated populations could provide suitable habitat for Deerberry anymore. At the time of this report only one population consisting of two plants could be confirmed (Lynch, 2009, D. Lindblad, pers. comm. 2009). This population is found in the Dry-Fresh Oak-Hardwood Deciduous ELC Forest Type and is surrounded by other forest types. Similar to the Thousand Islands population, a 30 metre area surrounding these two plants will ensure site conditions that support the persistence of Deerberry, and generally encompass the ecological community in which the species occurs. In the Niagara population, the 30 metres surrounding the two individual plants is also suitable habitat for Deerberry to re-colonize (Lynch, 2009).

Critical habitat identification

Critical habitat is identified for all naturally occurring populations of Deerberry in both the Thousand Islands and Niagara regions. This includes the three natural populations occurring on three islands (Grenadier Island, Endymion Island and Deathdealer Island) in the Thousand Islands Region, as well as the one extant natural Niagara population.

Critical habitat identified here for Deerberry is a partial identification, based on the best available information at this time. Further work is required to identify additional habitat to support the recovery of this species and achieve the population and distribution objectives. As more information is gathered, as outlined in the Schedule of Studies, Section 1.4, critical habitat will be updated accordingly.

Critical habitat is identified and mapped as a 30 metre area surrounding individual Deerberry plants. In cases where occurrences were separated by more than 30 metres but were connected by contiguous suitable habitat (based on the eight ELC community types listed above for the Thousand Islands Region and the one for the Niagara Region), the contiguous area was also identified as critical habitat. The general locations of critical habitat parcels in the Thousand Islands Region are shown in Figure 1 followed by more detailed maps showing the extent of each critical habitat parcel for all four naturally occurring populations (Figures 2-5).

Biophysical attributes of Deerberry habitat were derived from the expertise of recovery team members, 2009 ELC plots completed for each population and from detailed information gathered directly from Canadian Deerberry populations. Within the identified critical habitat boundaries, the biophysical attributes of critical habitat in the Thousand Islands populations include the following:

  • Dry deciduous or mixed forest types
  • Open areas that receive sunlight, with percent forest canopy cover ranging from 0-75% with less than 60% preferred
  • Slope 0-10%
  • Exposed granite bedrock dominated by pitch pine or blueberry species
  • Southeast to west aspect preferred
  • Within 50 metres of the St. Lawrence River

Within the identified critical habitat boundaries, the biophysical attributes of critical habitat in the Niagara Region population include the following:

  • Open dry oak dominated deciduous woodland
  • Maximum forest canopy cover of 65%

The three surviving introduced populations within the Thousand Islands region, including Lyndoch Island, Georgina Island and Mallorytown Landing are not included in this critical habitat identification. Introduced populations are not identified as critical habitat until they persist for five years and become self-reproducing (D. Kristensen, pers. comm. 2010). When they meet these criteria they will be identified as critical habitat. This critical habitat definition does not include any individuals that have been or might be planted in private gardens. If historical Deerberry populations are re-discovered or new natural populations are found they will be identified as critical habitat. Any changes to the critical habitat outlined in this recovery strategy will be identified in an addendum to this recovery strategy or in an action plan.

Existing anthropogenic features are excluded from critical habitat. These features include, but are not limited to, existing infrastructure (e.g., roads, trails, docks, picnic shelters) and unnatural vegetation types (e.g., golf courses).

Figure 1: General locations of Deerberry critical habitat parcels in the Thousand Islands Region of Ontario

General locations of Deerberry critical habitat parcels in the Thousand Islands Region of Ontario (see long description below).

Detailed maps of parcels are presented later in this document.

Description of Figure 1

Critical habitat is identified for all naturally occurring populations of Deerberry in both the Thousand Islands and Niagara Regions. Three populations have been identified as critical habitat for Deerberry on three islands in the Thousand Islands Region. These parcels (#215_1, #215_2 and #215_3) are identified on Grenadier Island, Endymion Island and Deathdealer Island. The island are located in the St. Lawrence River south and south east of Gananoque, Ontario, between latitude and longitude coordinates 44°15’ N and 44°25’N and between 76°10’W and 75°50’W. Deathdealer Island is the western most island, with Endymion Island lying immediately east, while Grenadier Island lies further east, approximately 16 km downriver.

 

Figure 2: Deerberry critical habitat parcel #215_3 on West Grenadier Island in the Thousands Islands Region of Ontario

Figure 2: Deerberry critical habitat parcel #215_3 on West Grenadier Island in the Thousands Islands Region of Ontario (see long description below).

Critical habitat does not include existing infrastructure, as described in Section 1.2.

Description of Figure 2

Critical habitat parcel #215_3 is identified on the Western tip of Grenadier Island, an Island on the St. Lawrence River in Ontario. The critical habitat parcel is found entirely within the park boundaries of St. Lawrence Islands National Park of Canada. A portion of an existing park trail loop is indentified running through the critical habitat parcel. The parcel runs along the western and southern shore of the island in roughly an L-shape. It is the largest of the 3 critical habitat parcels identified in the Thousand Islands Region. The parcel is found between latitude and longitude coordinates 44°23’55”N and 44°23’10”N, and between 75°54’25”W and 75°54’10”W.

 

Figure 3: Deerberry critical habitat parcel #215_2 on Endymion Island in the Thousands Islands Region of Ontario

Figure 3: Deerberry critical habitat parcel #215_2 on Endymion Island in the Thousands Islands Region of Ontario (see long description below).

Critical habitat does not include existing infrastructure, as described in Section 1.2.

Description of Figure 3

Critical habitat parcel #215_2 is identified immediately east of the centre of Endymion Island, an island on the St. Lawrence River in Ontario. The entirety of Endymion island, including parcel #215_2, falls within the St. Lawrence Islands National Park of Canada boundaries. Parcel #215_2 is a small circular shape that touches the southern shore of the island. It is found between latitude and longitude coordinates 44°18’5”N, and 44°18’10”N and between 76°6’W and 76°5’50”W.

 

Figure 4: Deerberry critical habitat parcel #215_1 on Deathdealer Island in the Thousand Islands Region of Ontario

Figure 4: Deerberry critical habitat parcel #215_1 on Deathdealer Island in the Thousand Islands Region of Ontario (see long description below).

Critical habitat does not include existing infrastructure, as described in Section 1.2.

Description of Figure 4

Critical habitat parcel #215_1 is indentified on the southern end of Deathdealer Island, an island on the St. Lawrence River in Ontario. A small portion of the island is identified as part of St. Lawrence Islands National Park of Canada and occurs on a small peninsula that juts east on the southern end of the island. The critical habitat parcel encompasses this peninsula and extends west and east. It is the smallest of the 3 critical habitat parcels identified in the Thousand Islands Region. The parcel is located between latitude and longitude coordinates 44°17’46”N and 44°17’48”N and between 76°7’12”W and 76°7’8”W.

 

Figure 5: Deerberry critical habitat parcel #215_4 in the Niagara Region of Ontario

Figure 5: Deerberry critical habitat parcel #215_4 in the Niagara Region of Ontario (see long description below).

Critical habitat does not include existing infrastructure, as described in Section 1.2.

Description of Figure 5

Critical habitat parcel #215_4 is identified east of the intersection between Whirlpool Road and the Niagara Parkway in the town of Niagara Falls, Ontario. The parcel lies west of the bend in the Niagara River named the Whirlpool, and adjacent to Thompsons Point and Niagara Glen Nature Reserve. It is located between latitude and longitude coordinates 43°7’25”N and 43°7’30”N, and between 79°4’30”W and 79°4’25”W. It is the only critical habitat parcel identified in the Niagara Falls Region.


1.3 Activities likely to result in the destruction of critical habitat

Destruction of critical habitat would result if any part of the critical habitat were degraded, either permanently or temporarily, such that it would not serve its function when needed by the species. Destruction may result from single or multiple activities at one point in time or from the cumulative effects of one or more activities over time. Examples of activities that may result in the destruction of critical habitat for the Deerberry include, but are not limited to, the activities listed in Table 1.

 

Table 1. Examples of activities likely to result in the destruction of critical habitat
Example of Activity Likely to Destroy Critical HabitatPotential Effect on Critical Habitat
Deliberate introduction of alien invasive or native invasive species in or within seeding distance (or other reproductive means, such as reproduction via cloning) of the critical habitatCompetition crowding out Deerberry leading to degradation of habitat.
Use of motorized or non-motorized vehiclesDirect mortality of plants in surrounding community, alteration of light and soil moisture levels, soil compaction, facilitation of the introduction/spread of alien invasive species or other competitive species
Construction or expansion of new or existing infrastructure and/or trailsAlteration of light or soil levels, facilitation of the introduction/spread of alien invasive species or other competitive species
Removal of vegetation or alterations to habitat that reduce the suitability for DeerberryDirect mortality of plants in surrounding community, alteration of light and soil moisture levels, soil compaction, facilitation of alien invasive species or other competitive species
Browsing by domestic ungulatesReduced biomass which may affect growth and reproduction of plants in surrounding community, alteration of light and soil moisture levels
Excessive impacts (e.g. trampling) from off-trail activitiesDirect mortality of plants in surrounding community, soil compaction, soil erosion or slumping, changes in ecosystem structure, facilitation of the introduction/spread of alien invasive species or other competitive species.
Ignition of any non-prescribed fires or uncontrolled firesLoss of habitat
Resource extractionLoss of habitat
Activities that causes erosion or soil slumping to migrate towards or occurs within critical habitatLoss of habitat


1.4 Schedule of studies to identify critical habitat

This recovery strategy includes an identification of critical habitat to the extent possible, based on the best available information. A schedule of studies has been identified, reflecting remaining activities to be undertaken to identify additional critical habitat, more fully aligned with the population and distribution objectives. Specifically, in order to identify critical habitat for the introduced populations that aligns with population and distribution objective II, introduction or reintroduction feasibility must first be determined, and populations must be successfully established, which is the focus of the studies outlined below. In order to facilitate introductions and re-introductions, a number of studies must be completed to identify successful propagation and competition reduction techniques (e.g. prescribed fires), which will ensure newly planted populations have a chance to establish themselves. While many of these studies do not directly involve the identification of critical habitat, their completion is required to determine if different sites will qualify as critical habitat in the future.

 

Table 2: Schedule of studies required to identify critical habitat
Study RequiredDates of Study
Further refine Deerberry Habitat Suitability Index Model in order to determine best sites for introduction or reintroduction.2010
Continue refining propagation techniques to establish sufficient numbers of plants that will support introduction or reintroduction efforts.2010 - 2012
Plant and monitor Deerberry in post burn environments to determine if Deerberry survive in post burn soil conditions.2009 - 2015
Monitor planted Deerberry at various years preceding prescribed burn (e.g.: 1 year pre-burn, two years pre-burn) to better understand how fire intensity affects different age classes of Deerberry plants and to establish the best timing and intensity for burning to enhance both natural and introduced Deerberry populations.2010 - 2020
Identify factors that limit Deerberry reproduction and develop mitigation techniques which address those factors so that introduced and reintroduced populations can become self reproducing and be considered as established populations.2016 - 2020


1.5 Statement on action plans

One or more action plans will be completed by December 2015.