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

6. Additional Information Requirements

There has been considerable research conducted on the biology and ecology of Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus in Canada, as well as in the United States, where it is more common and occurs in a diversity of ecosystems (e.g. http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/cactus/opuhum/all.html). However, even though there is sufficient information to define broad recovery objectives, strategies and approaches, there are still a number of information requirements that need to be addressed in order to recover the species. These are summarized below.

  • Population monitoring: A standardized protocol for assessing microsites and population size has been developed and tested at Point Pelee National Park. Continued, consistent implementation is required in all three populations.
  • Threat clarification: Threats from collection, trampling and non-indigenous, invasive species (e.g. Cactus Moth) require further investigation. An assessment of the magnitude, severity and frequency of occurrence of these threats and their impacts is needed to focus protection and recovery efforts.
  • Spatial population structure and origin:Genetic investigation of the three native Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus populations, as well as individuals at other sites in Ontario derived from stock of unknown or unconfirmed origin, is underway. While long-term maintenance and recovery of Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus at planted sites is not planned, should it be determined that planted individuals originate from the native populations they could assist in efforts to recover the species (for example, as a source for augmenting populations). It is also possible that, through this study, populations believed to have been planted will be determined to be native, which would effectively increase the number of known native populations in Canada.
  • Traditional Ecological Knowledge: The gathering and transferring of Traditional Ecological Knowledge and its integration with science will allow for a holistic approach for recovery and protection of Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus.