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Recovery Strategy for the Seaside Centipede Lichen (Heterodermia sitchensis) in Canada (Proposed)

Executive Summary


The Seaside Centipede Lichen (Heterodermia sitchensis Goward and Noble) was described in the mid 1980s from the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia (Goward 1984). It received official status in 1996 as endangered in Canada on the basis of its highly restricted global distribution, its endemic status in Canada, its specialized ecological requirements, and its extreme vulnerability to habitat degradation. The known population in Canada numbers 212 thalli, almost 90 percent of these in only five localities. Repeated surveys indicate a declining population at many sites.

Biological limitations and threats

Some important biologically limiting factors for Seaside Centipede Licheninclude the following: It is known from near the high tide zone, the majority in old Sitka Spruce trees with a cylindrical canopy. It only reproduces asexually and appears to be a poor disperser. It is only found in regions of very high moisture and fog. It may be limited to sites offering some protection from full exposure to maritime conditions. It prefers sites with basic rather than siliceous bedrock. It is benefited by and requires secondary nutrient enrichment at most sites where it occurs. Key threats for Seaside Centipede Lichen include natural or anthropogenic climate changes, increased severity of weather patterns, habitat loss through forest harvesting, foreshore development, branch collection, pruning or other disturbance, and disruption of natural patterns of nutrient distribution.

Recovery feasibility

Recovery is considered feasible: There are a number of individuals still extant. There is habitat available to support the species. It appears that many threats can be mitigated or avoided. There has not been enough study into recovery techniques for this species, their effectiveness is unknown.

Recovery goals and objectives

The overall goal for the recovery of Seaside Centipede Lichen is to maintain a self-sustaining population within its historic range in Canada that would enable COSEWIC to recommend downlisting the species from endangered to threatened. This goal will be achieved by habitat protection, suitable site management, public education, further research, monitoring, and reporting.