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Recovery Strategy for the Red Mulberry (Morus rubra) in Canada

6. Broad Strategies and Approaches to Recovery

6.1 Actions Already Completed or Currently Underway

Many Red Mulberry recovery actions have been undertaken since 1998. Included are surveys in the vicinity of extant and historic records and in some areas of suitable habitat, population censuses and heath assessments, Ecological Land Classification (ELC)11 according to Lee et al. (1998), Conservation Land Tax Incentive Program (CLTIP) (MNR 1998) mapping and landowner contact, prior to regulation of the species under the Endangered Species Act, 1971 (Husband and Burgess 1999, 2000, O'Hara 2000, Janas et al. 2001, Thuring and Smith 2001, Spisani et al. 2004).

Extensive research has been conducted on hybridization between Red and White Mulberry, its impacts, and management activities to address this threat, as well as comparative studies between both species and their hybrids (see Section 4.1) (Burgess 2000, 2003, 2004a, b, Burgess and Husband 2001, 2002a, b, 2004, 2006, Husband and Burgess 1999, 2000, 2001; Burgess et al. 2005, 2008b, Husband et al. 2000, 2001, Janas et al. 2001). This has led to additional knowledge regarding Red Mulberry demography and population dynamics. A pathology study (see Section 4.4) was also completed (McLaughlin and Greifenhagen 2002). Some work has also been done to test for differences in habitat characteristics between the two regions of occupancy and to compare seedlings from the different regions in a common environment (Beavers 1998).

Management activities to date include White/hybrid Mulberry removals conducted as part of an adaptive management study (Rodger 1997, Burgess et al. 2008b) and reductions in the size of the hyperabundant Double-crested Cormorant population on Middle Island to address impacts on plant species at risk, including Red Mulberry, according to the Conservation Plan developed to restore ecological integrity to the island (Parks Canada 2008). Ontario Parks' East Sister Island Park Management Plan has identified nesting Double-crested Cormorants impacts as an issue. A background document, which summarizes a number of studies to investigate the overall effects of cormorants on the island ecosystem, is now in preparation (S. Dobbyn pers. comm. 2010).

The Carolinian Woodlands Recovery Team is leading an ecosystem approach to recovery of the overall ecosystem in which Red Mulberry is found. At the broader landscape level, a gap analysis (Carolinian Canada's Big Picture Project) is informing restoration efforts to buffer and amalgamate forest fragments in the natural landscape to improve habitat quality by creating larger forest interior habitats.

6.2 Strategic Direction for Recovery

Broad strategies to recover Red Mulberry have been developed within this wider ecosystem context, with a focus on addressing threats and gathering the information needed to refine and attain the population and distribution objectives to support the recovery of Red Mulberry (see Table 3).

Table 3: Recovery Planning Table

PriorityThreat(s) addressedBroad strategies to address threat(s)Recommended approaches
HighAllHabitat restoration and population enhancement.
  • Identify appropriate habitat and populations for restoration and population enhancement initiatives.
  • Develop and implement habitat restoration plans and population enhancement procedures.
HighHybridizationProtect and restore genetic integrity.
  • Develop and implement White Mulberry control procedures.
  • Develop techniques to enhance pure strain establishment and survival.
  • Determine current genetic composition of all populations, including variation within and between populations and metapopulations, and determine the presence/absence of M. murrayana.
HighNesting CormorantsManage the impacts of nesting Double-crested Cormorants and communicate the need for such management.
  • Implement the Middle Island Conservation Plan (Parks Canada 2008).
  • Determine the overall impact(s) of cormorants on East Sister Island and implement measures to address them.
HighAllCommunity support and stewardship, and Traditional Ecological Knowledge.
  • Develop and implement best management practices to reduce or mitigate threats.
  • Develop and deliver outreach initiatives that increase awareness of Red Mulberry, understanding of threats to it, and foster voluntary stewardship actions.
  • Encourage the gathering and transfer of Traditional Ecological Knowledge from Knowledge Holders to others.
MediumHabitat Loss & Fragmentation, Hybridization, Other ExoticsCritical habitat protection.
  • Develop and implement critical habitat protection measures.
MediumAllMonitoring.
  • Conduct targeted searches in sites to update population status information as necessary, as well as at historical sites and in potential habitat.
  • Develop and implement a long-term monitoring program to detect changes in abundance, distribution, demography, health and threats.
LowAllEnhance knowledge and understanding of the species.
  • Fill knowledge gaps identified in Section 8 (Additional Information Requirements).
LowAllSite-based management.
  • Develop site-specific or multi-site plans to direct Red Mulberry recovery for core populations.
LowHerbivoryManage the impacts of grazing species.
  • Develop and implement management actions to address the impacts of grazing species (White-tailed Deer and snails).

Recovery and conservation initiatives outlined in this strategy should be coordinated with other recovery teams (e.g. Carolinian Woodland Recovery Team), conservation groups (e.g. local Ontario Stewardship councils and conservation authorities) and restoration initiatives wherever possible. First Nation communities have maintained local ecosystems for generations through the use of community Traditional Ecological Knowledge.  It is important to gather and share Traditional Ecological Knowledge from Knowledge Holders to others as a means for species and ecosystem protection and recovery.  Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Science can, together, better inform assessment, monitoring, and recovery of the ecosystems that support specific species at risk.

11 ELC is a land and resource classification system that describes and delineates ecosystem units based on ecological factors including vegetation, soil and geologic conditions (Lee et al. 1998).