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Recovery Strategy for the Rigid Apple Moss (Bartramia stricta Bridel) in Canada

Additional sections to achieve SARA compliancy

The following sections address specific requirements of Species at Risk Act (SARA) that are either not addressed in the Recovery Strategy for the Rigid Apple Moss (Bartramia stricta Bridel) in British Columbia (Appendix 1) or need to be highlighted.

1. Population and distribution objective

This section replaces the Recovery Goal section in the provincial recovery strategy. The population and distribution objective is to maintain the extant populations of the Rigid Apple Moss at current or greater population sizes throughout the current range of the species.

2. Performance measures

This section replaces the Performance Measures section in the provincial recovery strategy. Progress towards recovering Rigid Apple Moss in Canada will be assessed using the following measures:

  • The total Canadian population is maintained at, or has increased from, 2010 levels (assuming a natural range of annual variability).
  • All populations extant in 2010 are maintained.

3. Critical habitat

This section replaces the Critical Habitat section in the provincial recovery strategy. Areas of critical habitat for Rigid Apple Moss are identified in this recovery strategy. Critical habitat is defined in the Species at Risk Act as “the habitat that is necessary for the survival or recovery of a listed wildlife species and that is identified as the species' critical habitat in a recovery strategy or in an action plan for the species” (Subsection 2(1)). Habitat for a terrestrial wildlife species is defined in the Species at Risk Act as “…the area or type of site where an individual or wildlife species naturally occurs or depends on directly or indirectly in order to carry out its life processes or formerly occurred and has the potential to be reintroduced” (Subsection 2(1)).


3.1 Information used to identify critical habitat

McIntosh (2008, 2009a,b), building on previous work (Belland 1997a,b; Fairbarns 2008), recorded habitat characteristics and mapped Rigid Apple Moss patches (groups of individual plants growing together) and critical habitat. The Rigid Apple Moss depends directly on rock or soil substrates to grow. In addition, it depends directly on a supply of water from the surrounding habitat.

It is important to note that habitats surrounding patches are often large and are always complex which makes seepage areas difficult to identify. Habitats surrounding patches are composed of numerous features that could influence water flow (some of which may be underground). The complexity of these habitats makes an accurate determination of which gullies and seepage sites influence patches of Rigid Apple Moss difficult. Despite these limitations, critical habitat is identified based on which gullies and seepage sites appeared to drain into or near Rigid Apple Moss patches, and on which flats had the potential to house the species.

To characterize Rigid Apple Moss habitat, site and vegetation data were collected from representative microsites at each extant location. A microsite is a small area where the plants are growing within the larger location. Common characteristics among microsites were then selected as critical habitat attributes (see Critical habitat identification).


3.2 Critical habitat identification

The critical habitat identified here is necessary, but is not sufficient to achieve the population and distribution objective for Rigid Apple Moss in CanadaFootnote 1. Within the geographical boundaries identified in Figure 1, Figure 2, and Figure 3, critical habitat for Rigid Apple Moss is the growing substrate and the adjacent microcatchment associated with each patch. A microcatchment is the adjacent area where the topography directs water to the Rigid Apple Moss growing places. To account for a natural range of variability in each population, critical habitat is identified for all historic, current, and newly discovered patches of Rigid Apple Moss documented within the identified boundaries. As of 2009, studies have identified, in total, approximately 3 ha of habitat which is critical to Rigid Apple Moss survival.

Critical habitat attributes are as follows:

  • the presence of either rocky outcrops: irregular rock faces (more or less vertical) with sheltering overhangs or shallow soil.
  • few trees or shrubs (tree cover 0% to 35%, native shrub cover <1%)
  • native grasses and other herbaceous plants largely absent (up to 1% cover) except Wallace's Selaginella (Selaginella wallacei) which can reach up to 30% cover on some sites.
  • often dominated by the moss Niphotrichum elongatum (5% to 85% cover),
  • elevations of between 10 and 190 m above sea level,
  • southern aspects (south-west to south-east), and
  • seepage and/or surface runoff–the timing of water is a critical attribute: the sites are dry in summer and wet in winter and spring. Habitat surrounding each patch has a topography that directs rain water to the site.

Critical habitat for Rigid Apple Moss occurs at Mary Hill (Metchosin Land District), within the Mary Hill Training Area and at Nanoose Hill (Nanoose Land District), within the Canadian Forces Maritime Experimental and Test Ranges facility (Figure 1 and Figure 2). These properties are administered by the Department of National Defence, Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt. McIntosh (2009a) mapped eight different areas of critical habitat at Mary Hill, approximately 0.43 hectares located within a rectangular area of 4.2 hectares. Mcintosh (2009b) mapped twelve different areas of critical habitat at Nanoose Hill, approximately 2.4 hectares located within a rectangular area of 22.6 hectares. While recent studies could not relocate all reported patches of Rigid Apple Moss at these sites to map their critical habitat in detail, the locations of the previously reported patches fall within the geographical boundaries identified below and the critical habitat identification above includes the habitat associated with these patches.

Critical habitat for Rigid Apple Moss occurs on Lasqueti Island (Nanaimo Land District) within the Lasqueti Island Ecological Reserve (Figure 3). This property is administered by BC Parks, Province of British Columbia, in accordance with the Ecological Reserve Act (RSBC 1996). McIntosh (2008) mapped three different areas of critical habitat, approximately 0.11 hectares located within a rectangular area of 5.9 hectares.


Figure 1. Areas (~1 ha and ~4.2 ha) within which critical habitat for Rigid Apple Moss is found at Mary Hill Training Area, Mary Hill

Map of the area within which critical habitat is found (see long description below).

© Parks Canada
This property is managed by the Department of National Defence (Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Esquimalt). Approximately 0.43 ha of critical habitat has been identified within these areas (McIntosh 2009a).

Description of Figure 1

Critical habitat parcel 290_05 is bounded by a rectangle with the following corner coordinates: 458559, 5355002; 458559, 5355102; 458660, 5355102; and 458660, 5355002. Parcel 290_04 is bounded by a rectangle with the following corner coordinates: 459235, 5354512; 459235, 5354743; 459418, 5354743; and 459418, 5354512. All coordinates are in Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) Zone 10 North American Datum (NAD) 1983.

 

Figure 2. Area (~22.6 ha) within which critical habitat for Rigid Apple Moss is found at Canadian Forces Maritime Experimental and Test Ranges facility, Nanoose Hill

Map of the area within which critical habitat is found (see long description below).

© Parks Canada
This property is managed by the Department of National Defence (CFB Esquimalt). Approximately 2.4 ha of critical habitat has been identified within this area (McIntosh 2009b).

Description of Figure 2

The critical habitat parcel 290_06 is bounded by a rectangle with the following corner coordinates: 415054, 5458042; 415054, 5458430; 415640, 5458430; and 415640, 5458042 (Zone 10 NAD 1983).

 

Figure 3. Area (~5.9 ha) within which critical habitat for Rigid Apple Moss is found in Lasqueti Island Ecological Reserve, Lasqueti Island

Map of the area within which critical habitat is found (see long description below).

© Parks Canada
This property is managed by BC Parks in accordance with the Ecological Reserve Act (RSBC 1996). Approximately 0.11 ha of critical habitat has been identified within this area (McIntosh 2008).

Description of Figure 3

The critical habitat parcel 290_01 is bounded by a rectangle with the following corner coordinates: 405785, 5479374; 405785, 5479659; 405992, 5479659; and 405992, 5479374 (Zone 10 NAD 1983).


3.3 Activities likely to destroy critical habitat

Activities that alter the critical habitat attributes are likely to destroy critical habitat. Destruction would result if part of the critical habitat were degraded, either permanently or temporarily, such that it would not serve its function when needed by the species. Destruction may result from a single or multiple activities at one point in time or from the cumulative effects of one or more activities over time. Examples of such activities are provided below (Table 1). It is important to note that some activities have the potential to destroy critical habitat from outside the critical habitat area.

All species exhibit some level of resilience, unfortunately, in the case of Rigid Apple Moss the threshold between acceptable and unacceptable habitat disturbance is not known. It is precautionary to assume that Rigid Apple Moss is highly sensitive to habitat disturbance until data indicate otherwise. With this in mind, examples of activities likely to destroy critical habitat are provided below.

Table 1. Examples of activities likely to destroy critical habitat and their effect on critical habitat attributes.
Example activityPotential effect of activity on critical habitatMost likely sites
Traffic (e.g., vehicle use, frequent foot traffic, climbing) due to recreational use, military training, and land development or, maintenance.

Such activities compact soils, cause erosion, introduce alien species, and may alter hydrology.

Soil compaction and development of ruts or trails alters hydrology (e.g., decreased water infiltration and increased runoff). Altered hydrology can cause increased Rigid Apple Moss mortality through the following mechanisms: moisture stress, because Rigid Apple Moss is washed away during peak flows, or because changes in the moisture regime favour increased growth of vegetation that may compete with Rigid Apple Moss or change habitat attributes (e.g., light, nutrient, and moisture availability).

Erosion leading to direct loss of rock or soil is likely to limit space for individuals to grow and maintain populations. Erosion may also result in hydrological changes (e.g., decreased water storage capacity, or altered flow direction) that reduce the ability of the habitat to support Rigid Apple Moss.

Traffic through critical habitat will increase the likelihood that invasive alien plant species will be introduced and / or spread, especially when clothing or equipment is not cleaned between uses in different areas. Invasive alien plant species are likely to lead to altered critical habitat attributes (e.g., changes in light, moisture, and / or nutrient availability). Such changes are likely to increase mortality as habitat will no longer be suitable for the species. Invasive alien plant species introduced outside of critical habitat may directly affect hydrological attributes within critical habitat areas or may spread into critical habitat areas.

Mary and Nanoose Hills
Landscape modification (e.g., development, maintenance, or modification of existing structures, or landscaping such as digging, or blasting)

Such activity is likely to result in direct habitat loss through land conversion. Land conversion is likely to limit space for individuals to grow and maintain populations.

These activities are also likely to alter habitat attributes (e.g., hydrology, and light availability) and destroy critical habitat. Increased mortality would be caused through related stresses.

In addition, these activities often introduce invasive alien plant species which are likely to result in changes to critical habitat attributes (e.g., light, nutrient, or moisture availability).

Depending on the specific activity, effects on habitat attributes are likely at different distances. For example: Altered light availability is a concern within the shadow length of a nearby building. Blasting and ditching can alter hydrology by altering the flow of (subsurface and surface) water over fairly large distances downstream. Invasive alien species can spread and have wide ranging effects.

Mary and Nanoose Hills


3.4 Schedule of studies to identify critical habitat

It is not known if the critical habitat identified above is sufficient for the survival of this species. Table 2 outlines key areas of study that will assist with the identification of sufficient critical habitat. These studies will be encouraged through interested partners (e.g., affected land managers, the Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team, the British Columbia Bryophyte Recovery Team, and the Government of British Columbia), and the academic community. Further study may result in Rigid Apple Moss critical habitat addition or revision.

Table 2. Schedule of Studies to identify critical habitat
Description of ActivityOutcome/RationaleEstimated completion date
Habitat assessment and mapping at recently discovered locations.Critical habitat identified at for all known occurrences.Dec. 2015

4. Effects on other species

This section replaces the Effects on other species section in the provincial recovery strategy.

It is impossible to discuss all possible environmental interactions associated with recovery; however, actions to assist in the recovery of Rigid Apple Moss will likely benefit other species. For example, increased public education and awareness may limit harmful recreational activities in locations with species at risk and site protection, monitoring, and management may protect habitat for other plant species at risk.

However, actions to assist in the recovery of Rigid Apple Moss may negatively affect other species. For example, trampling or other disturbance due to on-site recovery activities (e.g., surveys, research, and landscape management) pose a threat to the co-occurring rare species which have been recorded in or near sites with Rigid Apple Moss. If not planned and implemented carefully, recovery activities may have a negative effect on other plants at risk.

Parks Canada Agency and partners such as the Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team are guiding recovery actions for this and other Garry oak ecosystem species in the area to ensure that recovery actions for one species do not unduly hinder the recovery of another.

5. Socio-economic considerations

This section replaces the Socio-economic considerations section in the provincial recovery strategy. The Province of British Columbia's Recovery Strategy for the Rigid Apple Moss (Bartramia stricta Bridel) in British Columbia includes a section entitled "Socio-economic Considerations." Although the strategy indicates that socio-economic impacts are considered to be low to moderate, a formal evaluation of the socio-economic costs and benefits of recovery implementation has not yet been conducted by the federal government. The federal Minister of Environment will include socio-economic evaluation in one or more action plan(s) as required by SARA (section 49(e)). For this reason, and because a socio-economic analysis is not required in a recovery strategy under Section 41(1) of SARA, the Socio-economic considerations section of this adopted recovery strategy is not considered part of the federal Minister of Environment's recovery strategy for this species. Nor did Socio-economic Considerations influence the preparation of any part of the federal addition.

6. Action plans

This section replaces the Statement on action plans section in the provincial recovery strategy. A recovery action plan will be completed by July 2016.

7. References

This section adds references for the federal text.

Belland, R.J. 1997a. Status report on the apple moss Bartramia stricta Brid. in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa.

Belland, R.J. 1997b. Status report on the apple moss Bartramia stricta Brid. in Canada. Addendum.prepared for the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), Environment Canada, Ottawa, ON.

Byrne, L., N. Ayotte, and A. Robinson. 2005. Survey for Rigid Apple Moss (Bartramia stricta) on Department of National Defence and on Vancouver Island (CFMETR and Mary Hill. Natural Resources Canada and Canadian Forest Service, Victoria, BC.

Fairbarns, M. 2008. Critical habitat for plants at risk in Garry oak and associated ecosystems: year 1 results (2006-07). Ecosystems Branch, BC Ministry of Environment, Victoria, BC.

Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team (GOERT). 2002. Recovery Strategy for Garry Oak and Associated Ecosystems and their Associated Species at Risk in Canada: 2001-2006. Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team. (http://www.goert.ca/documents/RSDr_Feb02.pdf") [accessed October 8th 2009]. x+ 191 pp.

McIntosh, T. 2009a. Report on an Inventory and a Critical Habitat Assessment for Rigid Apple Moss (Bartramia stricta) at Mary Hill (Department of National Defence (DND)), Vancouver Island. Public Works and Government Services Canada, Office of Greening Government Operations, Pacific Region. iv + 34 pp.

McIntosh, T. 2009b. Report on an Inventory and a Critical Habitat Assessment for Rigid Apple Moss (Bartramia stricta) at Notch Hill (CFMETR - DND), Vancouver Island. Public Works and Government Services Canada, Office of Greening Government Operations, Pacific Region. iv + 30 pp.

McIntosh, T. 2008. Report on a 2008 Survey for Rigid Apple Moss (Bartramia stricta) on the Lasqueti Island Ecological Reserve, Lasqueti Island. Parks Canada Agency, Victoria, BC. iii+ 28 pp.

Parks Canada Agency. 2006. Recovery Strategy for Multi-species at Risk in Vernal Pools and other Ephemeral Wet Areas Associated with Garry Oak Ecosystems in Canada. In Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series. Ottawa: Parks Canada Agency. 73 pp.

Footnotes

Footnote 1

Two additional Rigid Apple Moss locations have been identified since the Recovery Strategy for the Rigid Apple Moss (Bartramia stricta Bridel) in British Columbia was prepared. Critical Habitat for these recently discovered locations will be included in the federal action plan.

Return to footnote 1