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Few-flowered Club-rush / Bashful Bulrush


1.  Recovery Goals

The recovery goal for this species is to ensure the long-term survival of the extant Canadian populations, which necessitates keeping the Cootes Paradise population at current population levels (1000-1200 plants; in 2003) until a minimum population viability study has been finished, and increasing the Rouge Park population to sustainable levels. Depending on the results of population studies, it may also be necessary to increase the supply of suitable, but unoccupied habitat to accommodate metapopulation dynamics. This goal is thus on the continuum between survival and full recovery, as is appropriate for a species whose Canadian populations are on the margin of a secure population in the United States.

2.  Recovery Objectives

1)      Clarify the threats posed to this species in its Canadian range

2)      Manage sites to maintain the conditions necessary to sustain extant populations, and maintain their genetic diversity

3)      Establish and implement monitoring protocols to evaluate threats and the impact of management actions

4)      Search selected areas for previously unreported populations; investigate increasing the availability of recovery habitat

5)      Further refine objectives as increased data become available

3.  Approaches for Meeting Recovery Objectives: 

A summary of the recommended activities for the recovery of Few-flowered Club-rush/Bashful Bulrush is provided in Table 1. 

Table 1.  Strategies and Approaches for Recovery

PriorityObj. No. Broad Approach Threats Addressed Specific Steps

Anticipated Effect

(identify measurable targets)

Urgent1; 2; 3; 4Research§        Improve understanding of current threats and identify new threats

§        Determine what level/type of disturbance promotes persistence and what level/type is a threat

§        Determine fire ecology of this species and if prescribed burns are useful or necessary to promote recruitment

§        Assess role of other potential threats: human disturbance; changing abiotic conditions (due to canopy closure or habitat fragmentation or disturbance); predators/pathogens; competition (including non-native species); potential loss of genetic variability; etc.

§        Perform a minimum population viability analysis for the Canadian populations

§        Determine precise biotic/abiotic characteristics of critical habitat

§        Elucidate key aspects of the species’ ecology: sexual system; recruitment (seed vs. clonal); dispersal; survivorship; longevity; ecological relationships; population dynamics; competitive ability; etc. These studies will need to occur within both the Canadian and the core (American) populations in order to assess the effect of the peripheral position of the Canadian populations on their ecology

§        Assess the genetic variability within the Canadian populations, and between the Canadian and core populations, and perform subsequent research with genetic components (evaluate degree of local adaptation; determine degree of gene flow; determine role of clonal vs. sexual reproduction; etc.)

§        Explore the need for a seed bank to conserve local genetic diversity

§        Development of  threat-based management criteria and techniques, including evaluating the potential for metapopulation dynamics and the roles of stewardship, education, enforcement, etc. in recovery

§        Production of recovery action plan incorporating the above data

§        Determination of minimum sustainable population sizes

§        Determination of need for ex situ conservation (seed bank, etc.)

§        Development of criteria to recognise and protect critical and recovery habitat, and to assess changes in habitat of extant populations

Urgent2Management and Threat Reduction§        All   site-specific threats (succession, excessive disturbance, deer browse, competition) §        Develop site-specific management plans for extant populations

§        Development of threat-based management plans (including education/ enforcement components to address human impacts)

§        Stabilisation (and potentially restoration) of extant populations

Urgent3Monitoring and Evaluation§        Evaluate whether management actions are having the intended effect 

§        Establish monitoring protocols to assess populations and their responses to management techniques

§        Monitor populations and threats

§        Provision of accurate data for subsequent management and research, and for the evaluation of recovery efforts
Beneficial4Inventory§        Ensure that the plant was not overlooked at other sites, since most people are not familiar with this species

§        Survey suitable habitat for new populations

§        Survey sites of potential recovery habitat in Canada

§        Educate field staff from various agencies on how and when to identify this species

§        Development of an accurate understanding of distribution of recovery habitat and of areas that could be restored to recovery habitat

§        Development of an accurate understanding of distribution and population levels of Few-flowered Club-rush/Bashful Bulrush

Beneficial4Restoration§        Succession, excessive disturbance, deer browse, competition§        Promote the restoration of Few-flowered Club-rush/Bashful Bulrush recovery habitat independently, or in conjunction with other groups/recovery strategies

§        Increased availability of habitat for potential new populations

§        Potential increased habitat for tallgrass woodland species

Necessary5Recovery Planning§        Ensure actions are appropriate and based on current data§        Revisit this strategy regularly upon the availability of new data

§        Provision of a long-term management plan with a sound biological basis

§        Production of recovery action plan


4.  Potential Impacts of Recovery Strategy on Other Species/Ecological Processes

Few-flowered Club-rush/Bashful bulrush co-occurs in Canada with tallgrass species on dry, open, wooded slopes.  As such, recovery actions for Few-flowered Club-rush/Bashful Bulrush could have a positive impact on tallgrass woodland communities.  Numerous other rare species occur in canopy gaps of tallgrass woodlands (either at present or historically) such as Hoary Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum incanum), Virginia Yellow Flax (Linum virginianum), Downy False-foxglove (Aureolaria virginica), and Eastern Yellow Star-grass (Hypoxis hirsuta).  Tallgrass woodland is a provincially rare habitat type.  As a putative gap-phase species, Few-flowered Club-rush/Bashful Bulrush may be sensitive to encroachment by exotic invasives, so recovery actions may require local control of non-native species.

5.  Actions Already Completed or Underway

Some seed storage and germination requirements have been studied at the Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG).  Habitat mapping was completed at Cootes Paradise, and an investigatory demography study was initiated.  RBG has also undertaken tallgrass restoration activities (prescribed burns), which may benefit this species.  Inventories of all populations were completed in 2001 and a search for one of the Rouge Park population was completed in 2005.   Partnerships are being explored to continue monitoring this species in Rouge Park.

6. Statement of When One or More Action Plans in Relation to the Recovery Strategy will be Completed

An action plan will be prepared by the Recovery Team, and if necessary, with the assistance of a Recovery Implementation Group (RIG) by 2009.  It will address research needs, inventories, site management, monitoring, and restoration .

7. Evaluation

The success of this recovery strategy can be measured against several criteria:

  1. Threats to the persistence of this species in Canada have been identified and mitigated, through the enactment of site-specific threat-based management plans
  2. Long-term sustainable local population levels have been determined and met
  3. Critical habitats have been precisely determined and protected
  4. Monitoring regimes have been developed and implemented
  5. Potential sites have been surveyed for the presence of suitable habitat and for Few-flowered Club-rush/Bashful Bulrush populations
  6. Sufficient habitat has been restored throughout the range of this species to ensure its ability to spread to new sites and maintain a self-sustaining national population