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

2 Recovery

2.1 Recovery feasibility

In consideration of the criteria for determining feasibility (Table 2)--

  • Individuals capable of reproduction are currently available;
  • Sufficient habitat is likely available and more could be created if necessary via habitat management or restoration--though restoration would be a long term (> 50 year) option;
  • While many threats can be dealt with, it is unknown if all threats can be avoided or mitigated. It should be possible to mitigate threats posed by firewood collection, trail building, and seaside development through the establishment and enforcement of forest management and foreshore development guidelines intended to conserve critical habitat. However, potential impacts due to human-influenced weather or climate change are beyond the scope of this recovery strategy and require major social and economic change on a global scale;
  • There has not been enough study into specific recovery techniques, such as propagation of this species, and their effectiveness is unknown.
Table 2: Feasibility criteria for determining the feasibility of recovery
(Environment Canada et al. 2005)

Feasibility Criteria

1. Are individuals capable of reproduction currently available to improve the population growth rate or population abundance?Yes
2. Is sufficient suitable habitat available to support the species or could it be made available through habitat management or restoration?Yes
3. Can significant threats to the species or its habitat be avoided or mitigated through recovery actions?Unknown
4. Do the necessary recovery techniques exist and are they demonstrated to be effective?Unknown

There are significant knowledge gaps pertaining to this species. However, recovery decisions should consider the preservation of biodiversity and the principle that a lack of full scientific certainty is not reason to postpone cost-effective measures to prevent the reduction or loss of a species which faces threats of serious or irreversible damage. To act in accord with the assumption that mitigation will assist Seaside Centipede Lichen’s continued presence in Canada may save the species. To assume and act otherwise risks the potentially preventable loss of a component of world biodiversity. Recovery is considered feasible.

2.2 Recovery goal, objectives and corresponding approaches

2.2.1 Recovery goal

The overall goal for the recovery of Seaside Centipede Lichen is to maintain a self-sustaining metapopulation within its historic range in Canada. Quantitative targets are impossible to set because the current population size, distribution, and dynamics are poorly understood. However, a short term goal of no net loss of habitat or population viability should be adopted in the interim while further study is conducted.

2.2.2 Recovery objectives

Recovery objectives for Seaside Centipede Lichen are presented in Table 3.

Table 3: Recovery objectives
Recovery ObjectiveThreat addressedCOSEWIC criteria addressed
1. Protecta habitat at all known occurrences of Seaside Centipede Lichen throughout its Canadian distribution.Habitat loss
B, D
2. Implement appropriate site management at all protected occurrences.Habitat loss and disruption of natural patterns of nutrient distribution
B, D
3. Protect ecosystem processes critical to Seaside Centipede Lichen.Disruption of natural patterns of nutrient distribution
4. Fill knowledge gaps. 
B, D

a Protection includes a variety of mechanisms including stewardship and other voluntary means.

2.2.3 Broad strategy to be taken to address threats

Table 4 lists the broad strategies, general steps, and anticipated effects for recovery of Seaside Centipede Lichen. None of the measures listed in Table 4 should be postponed due to a lack of full scientific certainty. The threat of climate change is not discussed because it requires major social and economic change beyond the scope of this recovery strategy.

Table 4: Table of broad strategies, general steps and anticipated effects for recovery of Seaside Centipede Lichen (Heterodermia sitchensis)
PriorityObj. No.Broad Approach / StrategyThreat AddressedGeneral StepsOutcomes or Deliverables(identify measurable targets)
  • Protect habitat.
  • Habitat loss.
  • Increased severity of winter storms.
  • Determine ideal protection strategy and secure currently unprotected sites through stewardship and other mechanisms.
  • Give higher priority to protecting sites which provide greater protection from winter storms.
  • Long term retention of critical habitat.
  • Maintain a healthy coastal ecosystem in proximity to Seaside Centipede Lichen sites.
  • Educate the public.
  • Changes in nutrient distribution patterns.
  • Work toward adequate protection and enforcement for areas such as sea lion haul-outs and seabird colonies.
  • Encourage careful consideration of development and resource extraction so as not to impair key ecosystem processes at Seaside Centipede Lichen sites.
  • Educate the public regarding the importance of all species and their interactions.
  • Retention of nutrient enrichment processes required by Seaside Centipede Lichen.
  • Increased public awareness and sensitivity to the inter-connected-
    ness of healthy ecosystems.
  • Manage protected sites.
  • Public education.
  • Habitat loss.
  • Changes in nutrient distribution patterns.
  • Assess threats at all sites.
  • Develop material on best management practices for Seaside Centipede Lichen sites.
  • Manage known occurrences of Seaside Centipede Lichen in a manner that minimizes human impact on this species.
  • Develop an interpretive display including pamphlets at Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.
  • Implement camping and/or fire restrictions in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and BC Crown lands such as Spring Island.
  • Better knowledge of threats leading to more effective management.
  • Retention of coastal vegetation and host Sitka Spruce trees.
  • Leaving Sitka Spruce trees in their natural form without pruning.
  • Reduce mortality due to branch collection.
  • Improved awareness leading to a reduction in habitat and population loss.
  • Less disturbance of wildlife integral to nutrient distribution.
  • Inventory
  • N/A
  • Further define the known range and population distribution of Seaside Centipede Lichen in coastal British Columbia.
  • Collaborate with others interested in pursuing population studies in Pacific coast states particularly Washington, Oregon, and Alaska.
  • More accurate population assessment.
  • Improved ability to assess level of rarity and risk (reassess-
    ment based on more data).
  • Research
  • N/A
  • Study the environmental requirements and life history of Seaside Centipede Lichen.
  • Particular attention must be paid to better understanding the role of nutrient enrichment, longevity, and requirements for successful re-colonization.
  • Improved understanding of species vulnerability and critical habitat (including character-istics).
  • Improved ability to mitigate threats.
  • Monitoring
  • N/A
  • Develop and implement standardized monitoring protocol.
  • Conduct annual monitoring of known Seaside Centipede Lichen populations to identify and further evaluate population and habitat threats.
  • Submit all data to the BC Conservation Data Centre.
  • Improved management through better information on inter-annual and long-term population trends as well as improved knowledge of threats.
  • Allow a determination of how effective established protective measures have been.
  • Adapt management in response to observed results.
  • Reporting
  • N/A
  • Report on management actions and outcomes.
  • Prepare a revised Status Report by 2005.
  • Allow a determination of how effective established protective measures have been.
  • Consolidate known information on Seaside Centipede Lichen and allow a re-evaluation of status.

2.2.4 Effects on other species

Recovery procedures emphasize habitat protection and are thus unlikely to have a negative effect on other species; in fact, protection of Seaside Centipede Lichen habitat is likely to benefit other species. Furthermore, Seaside Centipede Lichen is largely dependant on ecosystem processes mediated by other species and thus requires the protection of those species to maintain a robust and intact coastal ecosystem. Proposed measures will permit natural processes to proceed unimpeded by human activity. The overall potential environmental effect of the proposal after opportunities for mitigation have been incorporated will be positive. Results of implementation of the recovery strategy are expected to yield positive environmental benefits due to retention of coastal old-growth, improved understanding of the ecology of lichens and lichen communities in the Pacific Northwest, and the recovery of Seaside Centipede Lichen.

2.2.5 Evaluation

Performance measures to determine effectiveness of plan implementation are listed in Table 5.

Table 5: Performance measures for Seaside Centipede Lichen (Heterodermia sitchensis) recovery strategy
Objective #Broad Approach/StrategyEvaluation measures
1Protect habitat
  • Number of Seaside Centipede Lichen sites destroyed.
  • Number of Seaside Centipede Lichen sites appropriately protected by legal designations.
  • Percent of old-growth coastal fringe forests remaining and protected.
  • Change in number of thalli at known sites.
2Site management
  • Site Management Guidelines developed and distributed to landowners.
  • Number of landowners and mangers employing appropriate management practices for Seaside Centipede Lichen.
  • Suitable campfire and camping restrictions implemented within PRNPR and BC Crown land.
  • Number of site specific threat assessments.
2Public education
  • Interpretive displays installed at PRNPR.
  • Number of pamphlets handed out/taken.
  • Public support for protection of the species.
3Maintain a healthy coastal ecosystem
  • Continued presence of seabird colonies, sea lion haul-outs, and raptors at healthy population levels.
  • Proportion of the British Columbia coast suitable for Seaside Centipede Lichen that has been inventoried for Seaside Centipede Lichen. This measure will provide an estimate of the Canadian population, density, and distribution.
  • Field-testing the reliability of models developed for predicting the occurrence of Seaside Centipede Lichen will indicate relative success of investigations into the ecological and life history requirements of Seaside Centipede Lichen.
  • Number of knowledge gaps addressed. Further information on species ecology especially relating to nutrient enrichment requirements and life cycle.
  • Ability to more accurately define recovery goals and objectives.
  • Annual population estimates with determination of trends and threats.
  • Estimates of habitat trends.
  • Management has adapted in response to observed results.
  • Completion of status report and re-evaluation.

2.3 Recommended approach for recovery

The single species approach was chosen for recovery of Seaside Centipede Lichen due to its distinct habitat requirements and threats. Also, Seaside Centipede Lichen is the only COSEWIC-listed lichen in this area.

The core of the known Seaside Centipede Lichen range is within Pacific Rim National Park Reserve managed by the Parks Canada Agency under the Canada National Parks Act. A key provision of this Act states that “Maintenance or restoration of ecological integrity, through the protection of natural resources and natural processes, shall be the first priority of the Minister when considering all aspects of the management of parks.”

The Province of British Columbia is a partner on the recovery team and will be responsible for ensuring sound management practices on Provincial Crown land.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has not been a participant on the recovery team but requirements under the Federal Oceans Act and Fisheries Act demand that marine resource harvesting be conducted in a sustainable manner.

2.4 Action plans

A Recovery Action Plan (RAP) for Seaside Centipede Lichen will be completed by 2009. The RAP is expected to include direction on management of human caused threats, critical habitat identification, a multi-year research strategy to fill key knowledge gaps, monitoring activities and protocols, an education and outreach program, and habitat protection guidelines for Seaside Centipede Lichen.