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Recovery Strategy for the Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia humifusa) in Canada

Recovery Feasibility Summary

Recovery of Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus in Canada is considered biologically and technically feasible, as the species meets all four criteria presented in the draft Government of Canada Species at Risk policy, as described below.

  1. Individuals of Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus that are capable of reproduction are available now or in the foreseeable future to sustain or improve its abundance.
    Existing native Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus populations demonstrate relatively good vigour and reproduction on the current suitable sites at Point Pelee National Park and Fish Point Provincial Nature Reserve (VanDerWal et al. 2007b). Flowering, fruiting and seedlings have all been observed at Point Pelee National Park, with recruitment of new clusters. At Fish Point Provincial Nature Reserve, clusters have been observed to fruit in recent years.

  2. Sufficient suitable habitat is available to support the species or could be made available through habitat management or restoration.
    Point Pelee National Park and Fish Point Provincial Nature Reserve currently provide suitable habitat to support the native Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus populations found there. However, Point Pelee National Park cactus populations are experiencing stress, possibly due to declining habitat suitability (VanDerWal et al. 2007a). At Fish Point Provincial Nature Reserve, the limited suitable habitat is highly susceptible to disturbance and may be unsuitable for seedling establishment due to the limitations vegetation overgrowth imposes on light availability (L. Lovett-Doust pers. comm. 2006). Habitat restoration, however, is believed to be possible.

  3. The primary threats to the species or its habitat can be avoided or mitigated.
    All confirmed native, extant populations of Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus are contained within areas protected by legislation. Management of vegetation succession can be implemented to mitigate the threat of succession caused by human intervention with natural processes. Enforcing critical habitat protection and the prohibitions surrounding collection can be achieved through educational programs and regulations.

  4. Recovery techniques exist to achieve population and distribution objectives or can be expected to be developed within a reasonable timeframe.
    Management of vegetation succession, using a variety of methods demonstrated to be technically feasible, can be implemented to mitigate the threat posed by natural succession. Individuals from genetically appropriate (native or transplanted native) populations can be used to enhance or add to populations.