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Recovery Strategy for Deerberry (Vaccinium stamineum) in Canada

1. Background information

1.1 Species assessment and classification

Common Name: Deerberry

Scientific Name: Vaccinium stamineum

Species at Risk in Ontario (SARO) List Classification: Threatened

SARO List History: Threatened (2004)

Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) Assessment History: Threatened (1994 and 2000)

Species at Risk Act (SARA) Schedule 1: Threatened (June 5, 2003)

Conservation Status Ranks:

GRANK: G5
NRANK: N1
SRANK: S1

The glossary provides definitions for the abbreviations above.

1.2 Species description and biology

Species description

Deerberry is a colonial shrub that belongs to the Heath family and is one of twelve Canadian species in the genus Vaccinium which includes cranberries, blueberries, and bilberries. This shrub rarely grows over one metre tall and has alternate, oval-shaped leaves with no teeth. The twigs have very small hairs on the young plants, but they develop a papery bark as the plants age. Conspicuous pendant, white flower clusters on long slender stalks appear in the early summer. The fruit is round and greenish to bluish in colour. Deerberry can spread by seed dispersal and by underground rhizomes, forming colonies covering several square metres. See Cronquist (1991) for more information on Deerberry morphology.

Species biology

Deerberry is pollinated by bees. The fleshy fruits are eaten by birds and mammals which disperse Deerberry seed in their droppings.

The seeds of Vaccinium species in the wild typically require several weeks of wet cold stratification followed by gradually warming temperatures and exposure to light before they germinate (e.g., winter followed by spring). Temperatures at or below 3-5°C for 6-8 weeks are sufficient to break dormancy. In the greenhouse, Deerberry germinates most readily when harvested from fresh fruit (with 2-3 weeks on wet peat in moderate light) with much lower success if the seed has been allowed to dry (D. Kristensen pers. comm. 2008).

Mycorrhizal fungi may be an important biological need for establishment and growth of seedlings. Greenhouse studies have shown good germination from seeds of Canadian Deerberry plants; however, this has been followed by poor growth which Kristensen (pers. comm. 2008) speculates may be due to a lack of mycorrhizal organisms. Young plants that have been transplanted to the wild seem to require continuing care for several years (more than five) to become established (A. Crowder pers. comm. 2008). The role of mycorrhizae is an important knowledge gap.

Ecological role

Deerberry is not an ecologically dominant species in any community type, except in successional blueberry heaths in New York state (Reschke 1990) where it probably plays an ecological role in the succession of areas recently burned in forest fires. In the Thousand Islands area, Deerberry is associated with a number of fire-tolerant species such as Pitch Pine (Pinus rigida) and other blueberry species.

The fruit of Deerberry plants provides a source of nutrition for numerous small mammals and avian species, such as fruit-eating birds. The flowers of Deerberry provide a source of nectar for a host of bee pollinators (Cane et al. 1985).

Bird populations are known to have fluctuated widely in the region in historic times, including an increase in ground-feeding birds after logging and fires in the nineteenth century (Weir 1989). Fires not only provide a new site for plant germination but also for bird foraging (Farrar et al. 1978). Deerberry may play some role in connection with this since the fleshy fruits are eaten by birds. In fact, several aspects of bird ecology relate to the future management of Deerberry. American Robins (Turdus migratorius) have been observed to perch and defecate on rock tops, after which seeds are washed into crevices where they find moisture (Howe 1986). This behaviour could account for many Deerberry sites. As well, other bird species which defecate or spit out seeds also like to perch after feeding (McNamee 1997). They perch at the edges of forest openings leading to mixed clusters of fruit-producing shrubs developing in successional sites (Crowder and Harmsen 1998). In the Thousand Islands, the shrub most often found with Deerberry is Low Sweet Blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium), possibly as a result of this type of behaviour.

1.3 Distribution, abundance and population trends

Global range

The global distribution of Deerberry ranges from central Mexico and Florida to southern and eastern Ontario and Maine. The global conservation status rank of Deerberry is G5, or secure. Further information on the distribution and conservation status by jurisdiction north of Mexico can be found on the NatureServe.org website (NatureServe 2008).

In the United Sates, Deerberry grows from Texas and the Gulf states, north to Maine, and west to Kansas. It is considered Not at Risk or S5 in 28 states, including New York state (which abuts both of the Ontario regional populations), but has the rank of S1 or imperiled in Kansas and Vermont (NatureServe 2008). Deerberry is not currently found in Michigan, and a record from 1903 may have been a garden plant (Voss 1996).

Canadian range

Deerberry is found in two regions of Ontario: the Niagara Region and the St. Lawrence Thousand Islands area (Argus et al. 1982-1987, Argus and Pryer 1990, Ford 1984, Ford 1993, Soper and Heimburger 1982). Figure 1 shows a map of Deerberry distribution in Canada.

 

Figure 1. Historical and current distribution of Deerberry in Ontario

Figure 1. Historical and current distribution of Deerberry in Ontario (see long description below).

Description of Figure 1

The global distribution of Deerberry ranges from central Mexico and Florida to southern and eastern Ontario and Maine. Deerberry is found in two regions of Ontario: the Niagara Region (2 occurrences) and the St. Lawrence Thousand Islands area (3 occurrences). Several historical populations records exist along the Niagara River in Ontario, however only two populations remain in the Niagara Falls area.


The Niagara Region has a single, small population located near the City of Niagara Falls on land owned and managed by the Niagara Parks Commission (a provincial agency). In 2001, this population consisted of nine stems in three patches (M. Thompson-Black pers. comm. 2008). In 2006, two of the three patches were reconfirmed by Mike Oldham (M. Oldham pers. comm. 2008). The patches are located fairly close together in a remnant Black Oak (Quercus velutina) savanna overlooking the west side of the Whirlpool area of the Niagara River Gorge. No attempt has been made to survey the steep slope nearby (climbing gear would be needed) for plants that may be growing below the currently known individuals.

The Thousand Islands region supports the larger proportion of the extant Deerberry population in Canada. Currently, the region supports five Canadian populations, including four in St. Lawrence Islands National Park and one on a privately-owned island, as well as one additional population located on Wellesley Island on the U.S. side of the border. Two of the extant populations in the national park are natural, while the other two are from introductions. A third introduction site in the national park (on Lyndoch Island) is thought to have failed. Information on Deerberry populations in Canada is summarized in Table 1.

 

Table 1. Populations of Deerberry with ownership and reintroduction information
Location nameNatural or Introduced?OwnershipComments
Niagara RegionNNiagara Parks Commission 
West Grenadier IslandN and I (1994)St. Lawrence Islands
National Park
Augmented from seed collected in situ
Endymion IslandNSt. Lawrence Islands
National Park
 
Lyndoch IslandI (1994)St. Lawrence Islands
National Park
No plants observed in 2006
Georgina IslandI (2006 and 2009)St. Lawrence Islands
National Park
 
Mallorytown LandingI (2001 and 2005)St. Lawrence Islands
National Park
 
Deathdealer IslandNPrivate 

 

Percent of global distribution in Canada

The percentage of the global distribution in Canada is estimated to be less than one percent (based on NatureServe 2008). Deerberry has a widespread distribution in the United States.

Distribution trend

The geographic distribution in Canada has decreased by at least 50% over the past 70 years, due to extirpation of sites in the Niagara region (Ford 1995, 1994). The Niagara population is located near the City of Niagara Falls, in an area that has been subject to extensive urbanization. At least six previously known populations in that area disappeared in the last century. Ford (1994) listed extirpated sites as St. David's Gorge, Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Glen, Queenston and Queenston Heights. These locations were searched by Meyers in 1985, Ford and Varga in 1989, and Thompson in 2000 (M. Thompson-Black pers. comm. 2001) among others. While it is not possible to give a rate of decline for the Niagara area, the decline appears to have been rapid.

One well-documented extirpation is St. David's Buried Gorge, where Deerberry was seen in the late 1960s by Meyers (G. Meyers pers. comm. 2001), but was later found to have been destroyed by grazing and/or trampling (Meyers 1985). The Niagara Deerberry population currently consists of three patches with a total of nine stems, all in one fairly small area. This is a very small proportion of its former distribution in the region.

The closest plants to Canadian populations are in the Thousand Islands at Wellesley Island State Park, New York. In 1981, two patches of plants there were observed and photographed (Crowder 1982). As of 2001, there had not been any recovery work on Wellesley Island (R. Caccia pers. comm. 2001). Deerberry is common to abundant in upper New York state (Howe 1968, Weldy et al. 2002, Cane et al. 1985). Meyers (pers. comm. 2001) is familiar with the populations at Niagara and considers the population at Presqu'ile State Park, Erie, Pennsylvania of particular interest because of its proximity to the Niagara population.

Population trend

Due to the species clonal growth, Deerberry abundance is estimated by counting patches of plants and assessing the health, stem diameter, height and flowering/fruiting status of each plant (El-Fityani 2006). Determining what constitutes one individual plant is not always straightforward.

The Thousand Islands population appear to have been relatively stable since the 1960s (Ford 1995, 1994), but there was no regular monitoring until 1994 when Parks Canada began monitoring on Lyndoch and West Grenadier Islands. Monitoring on Endymion Island began in 2002. In 2006, no Deerberry was observed on Lyndoch Island; however, in previous years 11 plants had been recorded (El-Fityani 2006). It is not known if Deerberry was once more common in the region; it may always have been scarce or may be a relatively recent arrival (A. Crowder pers. comm. 2008).

1.4 Habitat needs

Deerberry can grow well in a variety of habitat types and soils. In the Niagara region, the site where Deerberry presently grows is considered by some to be a reflection of logging which caused large canopy openings. However, others consider the area to be a remnant Black Oak savanna which has now grown in. The presence of tall-grass prairie species supports the latter view (M. Thompson-Black pers. comm. 2008, R. Ritchie pers. comm. 2008).

Open oak woodland is probably the most useful term to describe the Niagara habitat and the type of habitat that is used throughout the species range in the U.S. Ritchie (pers. comm. 2008) described the Niagara plants as being on the edge of a very steep and eroding slope to the east, with the immediate forest overhead to the north, west and south containing mature Red Oak (Quercus rubra), White Oak (Quercus alba), Ash (Fraxinus) species, and Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum), with Hop-Hornbeam (Ostrya virginiana), Sassafras (Sassafras albidum), Witch-hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), and Gray Dogwood (Cornus racemosa) in the understory and immediately surrounding the Deerberry plants.

In the Thousand Islands, Deerberry is found in a different vegetation type, containing oaks, mainly Red Oak, but with Pitch Pine and White Pine (P. strobus) as co-dominants (Crowder 1982). Whereas the oak woodlands of Niagara are similar to those in states such as Ohio, Pitch Pine forests resemble those on the sands of the coastal plain of the United States. In New Jersey, sandy dry areas often support only a scrub of Pitch Pine and plants of the heath family.

Using the Southern Ontario Ecological Land Classification (ELC) system (Lee et al. 1998), the two areas can be described as follows: The treed rock barrens in the Thousand Islands belong to the Pitch Pine Acidic Treed Rock Barren type (ELC code: RBT3-1). The Niagara population can be described as belonging to the Dry-Fresh Mixed Oak Deciduous Forest type (ELC code: FOD 1-4) or a Dry-Fresh Deciduous Forest Ecosite (ELC code: FOD-4) (M. Thompson-Black pers. comm. 2001). The Niagara sites are in Ecoregion 7E and the Thousand Island sites in Ecoregion 6E (Crins & Uhlig 2000).

Habitat in both regions is found in close proximity to water, possibly creating a microclimate with above average relative humidity and buffered extremes of temperature.

Soil requirements are varied and described as sandy, heathy, granitic, gravelly, organic and inorganic. Overall, soils are described as acidic. Vaccinium species as a whole cannot tolerate excess calcium (Jacquemart 1996). Korcak (1998) mentions the possibility of calcicole and calcifuge strains of mycorrhizal fungi being available, according to soil type. The Niagara region site would appear to be an exception to this intolerance, but the site is likely to be on dolostone rather than limestone (D. Larson pers. comm. 2001, G. Meyers pers. comm. 2001). Surface reactions of soils derived from Queenston shale are often acidic.

1.5 Limiting factors

In Canada, Deerberry is a pioneer species. Its occurrence here is at the northern edge of its range. As a result, it is limited here by a number of factors that may or may not be limiting in the United States in the core of its range. Five limiting factors of the species are described below in perceived order of importance. All require further work to establish the extent to which they limit recovery of the species here at its range limit.

Reproduction

Lack of reproductive success is a serious limitation for Deerberry. Yakimowsky and Eckert (2007) found that the reproductive rate for Deerberry was low throughout its entire range and that for the Canadian populations this was not a function of the plants being at the edge of the range. Their results showed that seed production was low and quite variable from year to year, and that clonal growth did not reduce the amount of seed production. In fact, an increase in seed mass (size) in the northern-most populations led to faster germination and seedling growth in the laboratory.

In spite of setting fertile fruit, naturally established Deerberry seedlings have not been observed in Ontario (Ford 1995, R. Ritchie pers. comm. 2008, J. Van Wieren pers. comm. 2008). VanderKloet and Hill (1994) considered that the much more abundant blueberry can only produce seedlings after a favourable sequence of weather. In general, in the genus Vaccinium suitable germination conditions are considered to be disturbed areas with high moisture and organic content (Eriksson and Froborg 1996). There is also a high mortality rate of established seedlings, and functional roots require mycorrhizae for seedling establishment. Deerberry probably utilizes the same fungus as blueberries (Varma and Hock 1995); however, given the difficulty of establishing Deerberry seedlings in and among blueberries, this theory requires further consideration. Deerberry may require similar "windows of opportunity" for seedling establishment, or equally specific germination conditions as other species in the genus. The cause of the low reproductive success of the Canadian Deerberry populations remains an urgent knowledge gap.

Vectors

The transportation of pollen between Deerberry plants and seed from plant to sites suitable for germination may be a limiting factor for reproduction. Deerberry produces a fleshy berry which is eaten by birds and mammals. The fruits usually contain 10 seeds which are dispersed after passing through the gut. The Thousand Islands population produces viable seeds (El Fityani 2006), but to date there are no studies on seed dispersal at any Ontario sites. This has been identified as a knowledge gap.

Deerberry requires pollination by bees. Crowder (1982) observed pollination of Deerberry in the Thousand Islands area. A comparison of the species and number of pollinators in Ontario with those observed by Cane et al. (1985) near Ithaca, NY would assist in understanding the ecological relationship between pollinators and Deerberry, and would clarify whether a scarcity of pollen vectors is a limitation.

Genetic diversity

The majority of Canadian populations are small and isolated. Small populations are known to have low genetic diversity and thus may have limited reproductive capacity (Caughley and Gunn 1996). Deerberry's lack of seedlings may be due to a possible genetic shortcoming (Schonewald et al. 1983, Clegg and Brown 1983, Lande and Barrowclough 1987, Gilpin 1987, Husband and Barrett 1996). Flowers of Deerberry are strongly self-sterile. However, greenhouse studies have shown seed from Canadian plants to be fertile and to have good germination capabilities. Also, genetic studies conducted by Yakimowsky and Eckert (2008) showed that genetic diversity in Deerberry was not reduced at the northern edge of the range. The same study did find some evidence of genetic differentiation between local populations that could be attributed to population isolation. How genetic diversity and the presence or absence of specific genes or alleles may be affecting Deerberry reproduction remains a knowledge gap.

Hardiness

Deerberry reaches its current northern limit in Ontario and New York state. A restriction to specific microclimates might not allow it to survive further north, but its northern range limit may be expected to shift about with minor climatic changes (Huntley 1991). The Thousand Islands and Niagara sites are in plant hardiness zones 6a and 7b, respectively, with microclimates moderated by Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, and by Lake Erie and the Niagara River. Chamberlain (1994) states that Deerberry cannot survive prolonged exposure to temperatures of -25°C or below, and winter minimum temperatures in these zones range to -23°C. Therefore, Deerberry in Canada may be restricted to these moderated areas because it is not hardy enough for more northern latitudes, and humidity (from the close proximity of large bodies of water) may play a role in moderating the climate.

Plant competition

In general, competition cannot be said to be a threat to seedlings; it is a fact of plant life. However, it may certainly be a limiting factor. In the Thousand Island region, transplanted seedlings on Lyndoch Island were noted as being largely out-competed by blueberry plants (El-Fityani 2006). Although no quantitative data is available on competition, the presence of blueberry is considered adverse to Deerberry seedlings at St. Lawrence Islands National Park (Chamberlain 1994, Bramwell 1998). In the Niagara region, competing vegetation includes Gray Dogwood (Cornus racemosa), a colonial shrub which surrounds the Deerberry plants. The Deerberry plants are on the edge of a steep slope to the east, so they are not shaded or crowded on one side (R. Ritchie pers. comm. 2008). Fire suppression may cause increased competition for Deerberry as the habitat becomes more densely vegetated.

1.6. Threats to survival and recovery

The most serious problem for Deerberry appears to be low reproductive success, which is a limiting factor, rather than a threat (see previous section). It is mentioned again here because many of the external threats may contribute to the problem, and addressing the identified threats through recovery efforts may help to address the reproduction issue. Threats, which are mostly external in nature (rather than inherent), are discussed below. The number of external threats is fairly low because almost all of the extant patches are in protected areas. Table 2 shows the severity of all threats by region. Severity levels provided in the table were provided by biologists familiar with the species and the respective region but are still subjective in nature.

 

Table 2. Threats to Deerberry and their severity by region
ThreatNiagara RegionThousand Islands Region
Lack of ReproductionFootnote aHH
Lack of Available Habitat (due to Natural Succession & Fire Suppression)MH
TramplingHM
Erosion and Soil SlumpingHN
Plant CompetitionFootnote aMH
Invasive Species (potential threat)LM
Browsing (potential threat)LH
Urbanization (potential threat)NL
Pathogens (potential threat)Unknownunknown

Information from R. Ritchie pers. comm. 2008, J. Van Wieren pers. comm. 2008, and other recovery team members. Letters indicating threat severity are Nil-Low-Medium-High.

Footnotes

Footnote A

Limiting factors (not considered threats) which need to be addressed in recovery efforts.

Return to footnote a

 

Lack of available habitat (due to fire suppression and natural succession)

Deerberry is often associated with Pitch Pine in the Thousand Islands region (Crowder 1982) and is found in a remnant Black Oak Savanna in the Niagara Region. Pitch Pine forest was historically subject to frequent fires (Whelan 1986, Matlack et al. 1993, Anderson et al. 1999), and the importance of fire in maintaining oak savannas has also been well documented (Sceicz and Macdonald 1990, Vanzant and Miyanksi 1993, Clark and Royall 1996, Will-Wolf and Stearns 1999). Cultivated blueberries are managed with fire (Badcock 1958, Scott 1967, Catling and Brownell 1999). These three lines of evidence for pines, oaks, and blueberries suggest that Deerberry is generally found in seral communities (or intermediate successional stages) which may have originated from fire. Skinner and Foré (2002) noted that burning caused patch movement and patch size changes, driving genetic composition changes in Deerberry. The suppression of fire in the Niagara and Thousand Islands regions has occurred for over a century, allowing vegetation to fill in and habitat to become unsuitable for Deerberry. This is very likely the main cause of a lack of available habitat for Deerberry. Note that with the very small populations found in Canada, any use of fire for habitat improvement must be done extremely cautiously to ensure there is no damage to the existing patches.

Trampling

Trampling by park visitors in the Niagara region and at St. Lawrence Islands National Park is a threat to Deerberry. The current Niagara patches are adjacent to trails, and the disappearance of one population in Niagara, which was close to the Bruce Trail, may have been the result of dirt bike use. The small size of the extant population in the Niagara region may be due to pedestrian traffic (S. Thompson pers. comm. 2001, G. Meyers pers. comm. 2001). Trails were re-directed at the Niagara site in 2004-2005 to protect Deerberry patches (K. Vlasman pers. comm. 2009). At St. Lawrence Islands National Park in 1981, two patches of plants showed signs of damage from trampling (Crowder 1982), and Parks Canada relocated the trail as a result. While work has been done to mitigate impacts at priority sites, the threat is still present for some populations in low-use areas.

Erosion and soil slumping

The Niagara site has a high probability of future erosion and soil slumping. Major soil slumping has occurred in the past at and adjacent to the present Deerberry location, as evidenced by comparing historical and current aerial photography. During 2006, Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) (Vineland office) planted 400 Eastern White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis) saplings to rehabilitate slumping areas where large mudslides had occurred to try to mitigate threats to nearby "seeps" where two species of Dusky Salamanders (Desmognathus fuscus and D. ochrophaeus) are known to exist (R. Tervo pers. comm. 2008, R. Ritchie pers. comm. 2008).

Browsing

Small mammals and White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are known to browse Deerberry. Although damage to Deerberry has not been measured, browsing was shown to be a major cause of mortality for other shrub seedlings in successional plots in the Frontenac Axis (McNamee 1997, Crowder and Harmsen 1998). Browsing of Deerberry is widespread and episodic. Heavy deer browsing has resulted in the failure of at least one Deerberry introduction in the Thousand Islands region (El-Fityani 2006) and appears to be a significant factor in the lack of success at one or more additional transplant locations (S. Thompson pers. comm. 2009). Cattle are known to have destroyed a patch of Deerberry at St. David's Gorge in the Niagara region, but it is not known whether they trampled plants or browsed them (G. Meyers pers. comm. 2001). Cattle are unlikely to be an issue at any of the currently extant sites due to location, ownership or access. In addition, non-lethal leaf damage by insects was noted in the Niagara region (M. Thompson-Black pers. comm. 2001). Currently, the threat from browsing is considered to be 'variable', because of fluctuations in deer populations, especially in the Thousand Islands region. However, browsing remains a significant threat.

Invasive species

In the Niagara Region, European Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) occurs in the area of the Deerberry plants. However, a major effort to remove Buckthorn was undertaken in 2006 by the Niagara Parks Commission, and the threat is currently considered low. Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is also found in this location, and a prescribed burn is being considered for this site in the next 5 years (R. Ritchie pers. comm. 2008). Garlic Mustard is also a problem on West Grenadier Island in the St. Lawrence Islands National Park (J. Van Wieren pers. comm. 2008). Invasive species are a stress on the landscape at St. Lawrence Island National Park although they may not be a direct threat to Deerberry at present. Thus, in general, invasive species are considered a potential threat rather than an immediate threat.

Urbanization

Loss of habitat that is apparently suitable for Deerberry is occurring in the St. Lawrence Islands region on some islands, such as West Grenadier Island. These islands have a patchwork of park and private ownership, and continuing development on private land may be eliminating habitat that could support Deerberry. Habitat loss has also been a major cause of extirpation of populations in the Niagara Region. However, the severity of the threat of urbanization is currently considered fairly low because the main effects have already taken place and the majority of the remaining Canadian population is protected within parks. Urbanization of suitable recovery habitat remains a potential threat.

Pathogens

The literature on the genus Vaccinium contains lists of fungal and viral pathogens because blueberries are an important commercial crop, but it is not known if these pathogens also affect Deerberry. The presence of pathogens could have a detrimental impact on seedling survivorship with transplants (D. Kristensen pers. comm. 2007) and may have been responsible for the extremely poor survival rate of seedlings transplanted in St. Lawrence Islands National Park in 2005 (El Fityani 2006). The severity of the effect of pathogens is not known and is a knowledge gap and recommended research topic.

1.7 Knowledge gaps

There are a number of important knowledge gaps for Deerberry in Canada. These are summarized in Table 3.

 

Table 3. Knowledge gaps for Deerberry
Need to know:In order to:
Historic, current and future habitat requirements (both short-term and long-term)Effectively direct recovery/restoration efforts (including the selection of sites for introduction/reintroduction)
The role of fire in habitat creation and maintenanceDetermine whether controlled burning is a useful tool for recovery; Determine whether fire is necessary to maintain habitat over the long-term
Cause of Deerberry's low reproductive successIncrease size of populations and accomplish recovery
Genetic variability of populationsKnow to what extent low reproductive success is due to genetics, and to determine relative distinctiveness of regional populations
Environmental and ecological conditions necessary for germination and seedling establishmentHelp with planning and implementation of recovery actions to help Deerberry become self-sustaining in Ontario
Deerberry life history (pollination, dispersal vectors, herbivory, mycorrhizae, competition, pathogens)Help plan recovery actions to address threats and inherent limitations of the species
Forest history, e.g. using tree-ring analysisLearn approximate age of Deerberry populations and fire history of the area thereby helping to plan management activities such as controlled burns.

1.8 Recovery actions completed or underway

Existing Species and Habitat Protection

The Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA 2007) protects Deerberry and also provides the means to protect habitat for this species through a regulation. If a habitat regulation is not developed for Deerberry, then its habitat will be protected under the general habitat provisions of the ESA 2007 as of June 30, 2013. Five of the six extant populations in Ontario have additional species and habitat protection. Four are protected and managed by St. Lawrence Islands National Park under the Canada National Parks Act. One population and its habitat is protected and managed by the Niagara Parks Commission under the Niagara Parks Act. The one population on private property is identified as a high priority for stewardship. Contact with the landowner has been made, and the population has been surveyed by staff from Parks Canada Agency.

Other actions completed or underway

  • Cuttings were successfully grown in the Guelph Arboretum but plants needed careful monitoring throughout the process. The cuttings were taken from the extirpated St. David's population in the 1980s (exact date unknown).
  • Deerberry Recovery Plan was completed for St. Lawrence Islands National Park (Crowder 1982, Brownell 1984).
  • Transplantation at St. Lawrence Islands National Park was undertaken at several locations (1994, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2009). Success of introductions has been variable.
  • Endymion Island in St. Lawrence Islands National Park has been closed to visitors.
  • Deerberry Recovery Team was formed in 2000.
  • Leaves were collected for genetic analysis in 2001.
  • Educational pamphlets were developed and distributed to visitors at St. Lawrence Islands National Park.
  • Methods for starting seedlings were developed through research at Acadia University in partnership with St. Lawrence Islands National Park. Germination percentages varied from 40-92%.
  • Ecological Land Classification (ELC) mapping was completed at St. Lawrence Islands National Park.
  • Niagara populations were surveyed by M. Thompson-Black in 2001.
  • Trail improvement was done in Niagara region to lessen the threat of trampling in 2004.
  • Information on Deerberry was incorporated into websites and stewardship materials were developed by Niagara Escarpment Commission and St. Lawrence Islands Commission.
  • Plants were surveyed in the Niagara region in 2006 (M. Oldham pers. comm. 2008).
  • The Niagara Parks Commission undertook removal of invasive Common Buckthorn in 2006. This included cutting of shrubs by lopper or chainsaw and subsequent treatment of the 6" to 8" stumps with Garlon 4; a 99% kill rate was determined later in the season.
  • Landscape-level genetics research was completed at Queen's University. (Yakimowsky and Eckert 2007, 2008); their work also showed good germination rates in the laboratory and no loss of "genetic diversity" at the northern range limit of the species.
  • During 2006, 2007 and 2008 the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority conducted natural areas inventory throughout its jurisdiction.
  • Testing of the habitat mapping approach recommended in section 2.5 was undertaken in St. Lawrence Islands National Park in 2008-2009.
  • Habitat modeling has been ongoing for several years; work on the most recent iteration that was begun in 2008 continues.