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Recovery Strategy for Deerberry (Vaccinium stamineum) in Canada

Appendix II: Deerberry reintroduction

Deerberry plants have been introduced to four locations in St. Lawrence Islands National Park. As of 2010, plants on only one of the introduced locations are 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). These introductions have provided a valuable learning opportunity to refine propagation and habitat selection methodology. The propagation program, a partnership between St. Lawrence Islands National Park and Queens University, has resolved most of the earlier germination issues, which should allow greater opportunities to introduce Deerberry populations in Canada in the future.

Deerberry plants start to reach maturity around two years and may require up to five years to become sexually mature (D. Kristensen, pers. comm. 2010). Even after persisting for five years, if the population is not self reproducing it may not be a well-established colony (D. Kristensen, pers. comm. 2010). Seed production and genetic diversity in natural populations of Deerberry are not low (Yakimowski and Eckert, 2007); nevertheless, Deerberry seedlings are rarely observed. Given that reproductive success is low and that other factors threatening the persistence of Deerberry populations are poorly understood, introductions serve as important opportunities for conservation managers to better understand Deerberry recovery in Canada. This includes improving the understanding of what role fire plays in the persistence of Deerberry through conducting various prescribed burns on introduced plants, without risking the few natural populations.