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Recovery Strategy for the Nodding Pogonia (Triphora trianthophoros) in Canada – 2015 [Proposed]

Species at Risk Act
Recovery Strategy Series
Adopted under Section 44 of SARA

Nodding Pogonia
Photo of Nodding Pogonia
Photo: © P. Allen Woodliffe

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Document Information

Cover photo: Recovery Strategy for the Nodding Pogonia
Cover illustration: © Allen Woodliffe


Recommended citation

Environment Canada. 2015. Recovery Strategy for the Nodding Pogonia (Triphora trianthophoros) in Canada. Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series. Environment Canada, Ottawa. 21 pp. + Annexes.

For copies of the recovery strategy, or for additional information on species at risk, including COSEWIC Status Reports, residence descriptions, action plans, and other related recovery documents, please visit the Species at Risk (SAR) Public Registry.

Content (excluding the illustrations) may be used without permission, with appropriate credit to the source.

Recovery Strategy For The Nodding Pogonia (Triphora Trianthophoros) In Canada - 2015

Under the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk (1996), the federal, provincial, and territorial governments agreed to work together on legislation, programs, and policies to protect wildlife species at risk throughout Canada.

In the spirit of cooperation of the Accord, the Government of Ontario has given permission to the Government of Canada to adopt the Recovery Strategy for the Nodding

Pogonia (Triphora trianthophoraFootnote 1) in Ontario (Part 2, the Ontario recovery strategy) and the Nodding Pogonia: Ontario Government Response Statement (Part 3) under Section 44 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Environment Canada has included a federal addition (Part 1) which completes the SARA requirements for this federal recovery strategy.

The federal recovery strategy for the Nodding Pogonia in Canada consists of three parts:

Part 1 – Federal Addition to the Recovery Strategy for the Nodding Pogonia (Triphora trianthophora) in Ontario, prepared by Environment Canada.

Part 2 - Recovery Strategy for the Nodding Pogonia (Triphora trianthophora) in Ontario prepared by Judith Jones, Jarmo Jalava and John D. Ambrose for the Ontario Ministry of Natural ResourcesFootnote 2.

Part 3 – Nodding Pogonia: Ontario Government Response Statement, prepared by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.

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Part 1 - Federal Addition to the Recovery Strategy for the Nodding Pogonia (Triphora trianthophora) in Ontario, prepared by Environment Canada


The federal, provincial, and territorial government signatories under the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk (1996) agreed to establish complementary legislation and programs that provide for effective protection of species at risk throughout Canada. Under the Species at Risk Act (S.C. 2002, c.29) (SARA), the federal competent ministers are responsible for the preparation of recovery strategies for listed Extirpated, Endangered, and Threatened species and are required to report on progress five years after the publication of the final document on the SAR Public Registry.

The Minister of the Environment is the competent minister under SARA for the Nodding Pogonia and has prepared the federal component of this recovery strategy (Part 1), as per section 37 of SARA. SARA section 44 allows the Minister to adopt all or part of an existing plan for the species if it meets the requirements under SARA for content (sub-sections 41(1) or (2)). The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (now the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry) led the development of the attached recovery strategy for the Nodding Pogonia (Part 2) in cooperation with Environment Canada.  The province of Ontario also led the development of the attached Government Response Statement (Part 3), which is the Ontario Government’s policy response to its provincial recovery strategy and summarizes the prioritized actions that the Ontario government intends to take and support.

Success in the recovery of this species depends on the commitment and cooperation of many different constituencies that will be involved in implementing the directions set out in this strategy and will not be achieved by Environment Canada, or any other jurisdiction alone. All Canadians are invited to join in supporting and implementing this strategy for the benefit of the Nodding Pogonia and Canadian society as a whole.

This recovery strategy will be followed by one or more action plans that will provide information on recovery measures to be taken by Environment Canada and other jurisdictions and/or organizations involved in the conservation of the species. Implementation of this strategy is subject to appropriations, priorities, and budgetary constraints of the participating jurisdictions and organizations.

The recovery strategy sets the strategic direction to arrest or reverse the decline of the species, including identification of critical habitat to the extent possible. It provides all Canadians with information to help take action on species conservation. When the recovery strategy identifies critical habitat, there may be regulatory implications as SARA sets out a process to evaluate existing protection mechanisms under other Acts of Parliament and provincial and territorial legislation, and if necessary, to put in place additional protection under SARA.  For critical habitat located on federal lands outside of federal protected areas the Minister of the Environment must either report on existing legal protection or make an order to provide protection.  The Minister of the Environment will assess whether critical habitat is effectively protected on non-federal lands.  The discretion to protect critical habitat that is not effectively protected rests with the Governor in Council.

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The initial draft of this recovery strategy addition was developed by Holly Bickerton, with helpful contributions from Judith Jones. Ken Tuininga, Lauren Strybos, Krista Holmes, Christina Rohe, Bruna Peloso, Madeline Austen and Lesley Dunn, Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service – Ontario (EC, CWS-ON), and Megan Eplett, formerly EC, CWS-ON, and Jay Fitzsimmons and Aileen Wheeldon (Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (OMNRF)) and Mike Oldham (Natural Heritage Information Centre, OMNRF) reviewed and provided comments and advice during the development of this document.

Acknowledgement and thanks is given to all other parties that provided advice and input used to help inform the development of this recovery strategy including various Aboriginal organizations and individuals, landowners, citizens and stakeholders who provided input and/or participated in consultation meetings.

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Additions and Modifications to the Adopted Document

The following sections have been included to address specific requirements of SARA that are not addressed in the Province of Ontario’s Recovery Strategy for the Nodding Pogonia (Triphora trianthophora) in Ontario (Part 2) and to provide updated or additional information. 

Environment Canada is adopting the Ontario recovery strategy (Part 2) with the exception of section 2.0, “Recovery”.  In place of section 2.0 Environment Canada is establishing its own critical habitat and performance indicators, and is adoptiong the Government of Ontario’s government led and government support actions of the Nodding Pogonia: Ontario Government Response Statement (Part 3) as the broad strategies and general approaches to meet the population and distribution objectives.

Under SARA, there are specific requirements and processes set out regarding the protection of critical habitat. Therefore statements in the provincial recovery strategy referring to protection of the species’ habitat may not directly correspond to federal requirements, and are not being adopted by Environment Canada as part of the federal recovery strategy. Whether particular measures or actions will result in protection of critical habitat under SARA will be assessed following publication of the final federal recovery strategy.

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1. Species Status Information

The Nodding PogoniaFootnote 3 (Triphora trianthophoros) is an orchid endemic to North America, where it is found in Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Panama and a widespread area of the eastern United States (NatureServe 2014). In Canada it is known only from two locations in southwestern Ontario: the Rondeau Provincial Park population which includes four subpopulations (Municipality of Chatham-Kent) and the Three Birds Woodlot population (Essex County) (COSEWIC 2010; Jones et al. 2013). Both populations are considered extantFootnote 4, though the Nodding Pogonia has not been seen since 1987 at the Three Birds Woodlot (Jones et al. 2013). Because this species may remain dormant for many years and there has been little search effort at the Three Birds Woodlot (only 3 surveys have been performed in the eastern portion of the site over the last 30 years) the fact that Nodding Pogonia was not found during these surveys doesn’t exclude the possibility that the species may still be present at the site, as it may have flowered in non-survey years or it could be present in unsurveyed areas (Jones et al. 2013).

Nodding Pogonia is considered uncommon through much of its large eastern North American range and has a rounded global status rank of G3 - VulnerableFootnote 5 (NatureServe 2014). In Ontario, the conservation status is ranked S1 – Critically ImperiledFootnote 6 (NatureServe 2014).

In Canada, the Nodding Pogonia is listed as EndangeredFootnote 7  on Schedule 1 of the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). In Ontario, it is listed as EndangeredFootnote 8 under the Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA).This species is at the northern edge of its North American range in Ontario, and it is estimated that less than 1% of its global range occurs in Canada (COSEWIC 2010).

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2. Recovery Feasibility

Based on the following four criteria that Environment Canada uses to establish recovery feasibility, there are unknowns regarding the feasibility of recovery of the Nodding Pogonia. In keeping with the precautionary principle, a recovery strategy has been prepared as per section 41(1) of SARA, as would be done when recovery is determined to be feasible.

  1. Individuals of the wildlife species that are capable of reproduction are available now or in the foreseeable future to sustain the population or improve its abundance.
    • Yes. There are currently two extant populations in Canada. Fieldwork in 2008 confirmed a count of 1357 flowering stems at three of the four known sites (subpopulations) within one of the only two populations in southwestern Ontario (Rondeau Provincial Park) (COSEWIC 2010). The four known sites are in close proximity to one-another and are considered to be a single population consisting of four known sub-populations (COSEWIC 2010). As flowering stems appear in large clumps and may or may not originate from a single tuber, it is not clear how many mature genetic individuals (i.e. genets) this represents. Flowering stem counts at this single Ontario population have fluctuated widely since its discovery in 1966, although available reports indicate there are individuals in Canada with a demonstrated reproductive capability (i.e. flowering and setting seed) (COSEWIC 2010). Nodding Pogonia also occurs broadly across eastern North America, although it is rare and possibly declining in the northern portion of its range (Ramstetter 2001).
    • It should be noted that the two extant populations in Ontario are isolated and small, and therefore loss of genetic diversity may be a concern if the species does not continue to successfully reproduce for long periods of time. There is also a potential threat from stochastic events in a population with so few locations (COSEWIC 2010).
  2. Sufficient suitable habitat is available to support the species or could be made available through habitat management or restoration.
    • Unknown. In Canada, Nodding Pogonia is a species of rich, mesic, mixed hardwood forests, especially forests dominated by American Beech (Fagus grandifolia) and Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) (COSEWIC 2010; Jones et al. 2013). Although Ontario’s Carolinian deciduous forests have been severely fragmented since European settlement, significant areas of apparently suitable habitat are found within the Carolinian zone. Nodding Pogonia has also been found in other habitat types in its U.S. range, including swamps, sphagnum bogs, and on sandy flats (Case 1964; Sheviak 1974; Homoya 1993; COSEWIC 2010). Although there is likely sufficient apparently suitable habitat for this species, the range and amount of habitat occupied by its obligate mycorrhizal fungal associate(s)Footnote 9 is not known (COSEWIC 2010).
  3. The primary threats to the species or its habitat (including threats outside Canada) can be avoided or mitigated.
    • Unknown. Many threats may interact to affect Nodding Pogonia, although it is not clear which constitute a “primary threat”. Human-caused changes that disturb this species’ delicate mycorrhizal fungal association may be the greatest threat to this orchid (Jones et al. 2013), and some of these are not easily mitigated. For example, invasive plant species are present at both populations, and may disrupt soil fungi and microorganisms. Techniques now exist to control many invasive plant species, but implementation of the techniques can be challenging as it often involves long-term land management (Jones et al. 2013). Non-native earthworms are also considered a potential threat to both populations (COSEWIC 2010). Earthworms reduce the duffFootnote 10 and humusFootnote 11 layers, have been demonstrated to reduce fungal diversity (Baxter et al. 1999; Muratake 2003; Hale et al. 2005) and may also facilitate invasion by non-native plants (Nuzzo et al. 2009). No techniques are known to control earthworm populations in forests or other habitats where Nodding Pogonia might occur. Browsing by White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) has been known to threaten orchids, including Nodding Pogonia (COSEWIC 2010), at Rondeau Provincial Park, where high deer populations are being controlled (Ontario Parks 2001; Jones et al. 2013). Browsing by White-tailed Deer is also a potential threat at the Three Birds Woodlot where the orchid has not been observed for over 20 years (Jones et al. 2013). Given the number and unknown severity of threats, and the fact that Nodding Pogonia occurs in one of the most fragmented and developed areas of Canada, it is not certain that the  threats can be completely avoided or mitigated.
  4. Recovery techniques exist to achieve the population and distribution objectives or can be expected to be developed within a reasonable timeframe.
    • Unknown. Although traditional methods of habitat protection (e.g. land securement, easement, or stewardship) could be employed to protect the species and its habitat where it occurs on private land, these may not be sufficient to prevent the species from being extirpated from this site given that several threats pose challenges as mitigation techniques are not known or proven. Finally, most propagation techniques have not been successful when applied to Nodding Pogonia. In Ontario trials, seeds have been successfully germinated in culture, but seedlings did not survive transplant to the wild (Anderson 1990). In propagation trials in Wisconsin, seeds germinated well in culture, but since the delicate cormsFootnote 12 are very difficult to handle, transplanted corms did not survive (S. Weber pers. comm. 2014). Entire plants from the Three Birds Woodlot were transplanted to Rondeau Provincial Park in 1956, but did not survive (Woodliffe 2011).  Direct seeding of mature capsules in suitable habitat is another potential method of propagation for recovery purposes, but little is known about its success.

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3. Population and Distribution Objectives

The Recovery Strategy for the Nodding Pogonia (Triphora trianthophora) in Ontario contains the following recovery goal for the recovery of Nodding Pogonia:

  • The recovery goal is to maintain the extant populations of Nodding Pogonia in their current condition or better, to assist these populations over the long-term to become self-sustaining and viable, and to fill knowledge gaps so that recovery activities at other locations may become possible in the future.

The Government Response Statement for the province of Ontario lists the following goal for the recovery of the Nodding Pogonia in Ontario:

  • The government’s goal for the recovery of Nodding Pogonia is to maintain or improve the viability of existing populations in Ontario.

Under SARA, a population and distribution objective for the species must be established. Environment Canada is adopting the recovery goal in the Nodding Pogonia: Ontario Government Response Statement (Part 3) as the population and distribution objective for Nodding Pogonia under SARA.

  • To maintain or improve the viabilityFootnote 13 of the two existing populations in Canada.

Due to seasonal conditions, stem counts may vary widely from year to year. Therefore, measuring recovery of Nodding Pogonia based on population abundance, as measured in stem counts, must account for the natural range of variation. Although the 2008 population was estimated at 1400 stems, this was an unusually favourable year and may not represent an average stem count (COSEWIC 2010). This species’ ability to remain below ground in unfavourable seasons (Williams 1994) also complicates the use of stem count alone as an abundance measure. Therefore, maintaining or improving the population’s viability is considered to be a more appropriate objective.

The Ontario Natural Heritage Information Centre (NHIC) assigns quality ranks to element occurrences based on their estimated viability. The Rondeau population is ranked as CFootnote 14 (C: Fair Viability) and the Three Birds Woodlot population is ranked HFootnote 15 (H: Historical)  (Jones et al. 2013). The Three Birds Woodlot population is treated as an extant population (although technically it is ranked Historical) because the area has not been regularly surveyed, the species can remain dormant in the ground for long periods (COSEWIC 2010) and the site quality remains good.

This population and distribution objective includes maintaining or improving all existing subpopulations previously documented at Rondeau Provincial Park (Woodliffe 2011) as well as maintaining or improving the integrity of habitat occupied by both populations.

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4. Broad Strategies and General Approaches to Meet Objectives

The government-led and government-supported actions tables from the Nodding Pogonia: Ontario Government Response Statement (Part 3) are adopted as the broad strategies and general approaches to address the threats and meet the population and distribution objectives. Environment Canada is not adopting the approaches identified in section 2 of the Recovery Strategy for the Nodding Pogonia (Triphora trianthophora) in Ontario (Part 2).

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5. Critical Habitat

5.1 Identification of the Species' Critical Habitat

Section 41(1)(c) of SARA requires that recovery strategies include an identification of the species’ critical habitat, to the extent possible, as well as example of activities that are likely to result in its destruction.  Under SARA, critical habitat is “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 the recovery strategy or in an action plan for the species”.

Identification of critical habitat is not a component of the provincial recovery strategy under the Province of Ontario’s ESA. Under the ESA, when a species becomes listed as endangered or threatened on the Species at Risk in Ontario List, it automatically receives general habitat protection. Nodding Pogonia currently receives general habitat protection under the ESA; however, a description of the general habitat has not yet been developed. In some cases, a habitat regulation may be developed that replaces the general habitat protection. A habitat regulation is a legal instrument that prescribes an area that will be protectedFootnote 16 as the habitat of the species by the Province of Ontario. A habitat regulation has not been developed for Nodding Pogonia under the ESA.

This federal recovery strategy identifies critical habitat for Nodding Pogonia to the extent possible, based on the best available information as of June 2014. Critical habitat is identified for the two populations of Nodding Pogonia in Ontario (See Figure 1 and Table 1). Additional critical habitat may be added in the future if new or additional information supports the inclusion of areas beyond those currently identified (e.g., new sites are colonized in adjacent areas).

The identification of critical habitat for Nodding Pogonia is based on two criteria: habitat occupancy and habitat suitability.

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5.1.1 Habitat Occupancy

The habitat occupancy criterion refers to areas of suitable habitat where there is a reasonable degree of certainty of current use by the species.

Habitat is considered occupied when:

  • at least one Nodding Pogonia individual has been observed in any year since 1985

Occupancy is based on recent occurrence reports available for extant populations from the Natural Heritage Information Centre (NHIC) and the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). Nodding Pogonia generally appears above ground in the late summer (late July to early August) just before it begins its brief flowering period (between late July and early September), and if conditions in any particular year are not suitable for reproduction, the species can continue to persist and grow under the soil for many years (Jones et al. 2013). The maximum period of dormancy is not well understood for Nodding Pogonia. One occurrence of Nodding Pogonia at a well-surveyed South Carolina site was rediscovered after approximately 20-30 years of going undetected (Porcher 1977, cited in Jones et al. 2013). Orchids in similar habitats to Nodding Pogonia have also been known to persist for many decades, and colonies of orchids may be as old as their surrounding forest environment (Reddoch and Reddoch 1997). It has also been suggested that some Isotria species (orchids with similar habitat found in the Great Lakes region) may remain dormant for 15 to 20 years, although this has not been substantiated (Correll 1950, cited in COSEWIC 2011). Habitat occupancy will be presumed for Three Birds Woodlot (ranked Historical) until the population status is reassessed by the Ontario Natural Heritage Information Centre as extirpatedFootnote 17.

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5.1.2 Habitat Suitability

Habitat suitability relates to areas possessing a specific set of biophysical attributes that support individuals of the species carrying out essential aspects of their life cycle. In Canada, Nodding Pogonia is found in Carolinian deciduous forest areas of Ontario, dominated by mature stands of American Beech and Sugar Maple, often along sandy ridges with acidic soil (Jones et al. 2013), and where there is deep leaf litter, an abundance of humus, and a well-developed tree canopy (COSEWIC 2010). Like other members of the plant family Orchidaceae, Nodding Pogonia depends upon the presence of soil mycorrhizal associates. Mycorrhizal associates have been found for many other species in the same family (Dearnaley 2007). For nutrients and successful seed germination, Nodding Pogonia relies on mycorrhizal fungus (COSEWIC 2010) and this association allows the species to persist underground (for years at a time), and enables stems to appear above-ground for a brief flowering period (Jones et al. 2013).    

The biophysical attributes of suitable habitat for Nodding Pogonia include: 

  • Deciduous forest or swamp (>75% canopy cover); or
    • Dominated by American Beech, Red Maple (Acer rubrum), Sugar Maple, Ironwood (Ostrya virginiana), Canada Mayflower (Maianthemum canadense), Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis),
  • Mixed forest or swamp (>75% canopy cover); or
    • Dominated by White Pine (Pinus strobus) or Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) with American Beech, Red Maple or Sugar Maple; or
  •  Treed sand dune  (> 25% canopy cover); or
  •  Tops and sides of sand ridges, floodplain forests, borders of swamps, sphagnum bogs, and on sandy flats; and
  • Presence of a deep leaf litter layer; and
    • Presence of rich soils with an abundance of humus; and
    • Presence of mycorrhizal fungal associate; and
    • A steady supply of moisture throughout the season

Based on the best available information, suitable habitat for Nodding Pogonia is currently defined as the extent of the biophysical attributes where the Nodding Pogonia exists in Ontario. In addition to the suitable habitat, a critical function zone of 50 m (radial distance) is applied when the biophysical attributes around a plant extend for less than 50 m.

In Ontario, suitable habitat for Nodding Pogonia can be described using the Ecological Land Classification (ELC) framework for Southern Ontario (from Lee et al. 1998). The ELC framework provides a standardized approach to the interpretation and delineation of dynamic ecosystem boundaries. The ELC approach classifies habitats not only by vegetation community but also considers soil moisture conditions and topography, and as such encompasses the biophysical attributes of suitable habitat for Nodding Pogonia. In addition, ELC terminology and methods are familiar to many land managers and conservation practitioners who have adopted this tool as the standard approach for Ontario. 

Within the ELC system in Ontario, the ecosite boundary best captures the extent of biophysical attributes required by the species. The ecosite includes the areas occupied by Nodding Pogonia and the surrounding areas that provide suitable habitat conditions to carry out essential life process for the species and should allow for natural processes related to population dynamics and reproduction (e.g., dispersal and pollination) to occur. Nodding Pogonia is a colonizing orchid that  is likely restricted by the presence of a specific mycorrhizal fungus that supplies nutrients to the orchid. With the exception of the immediate area where Nodding Pogonia plants are growing, it is not possible to ensure the ELC ecosite captures the fungus, about which very little is known regarding its distribution and ecology in Canada. Therefore, using ecosite boundaries to delineate critical habitat boundaries, would be a precautionary approach as studies have found that germination of orchid seeds decreases with increasing distance from adult plants, which suggests mycorrhizae exist in proximity to adult plants (McKendrick et al. 2002; Diez 2007). It is believed the immediate area surrounding Nodding Pogonia populations is more likely to contain the appropriate soil mycorrhizal fungus. It is possible that Nodding Pogonia populations may increase locally, and colonize or recolonize areas of nearby suitable habitat within the ecosite This larger area around the plant may also promote ecosystem resilience to invasive species and their subsequent impacts on mycorrhizal fungal associations.

Ecosites containing Nodding Pogonia have been described in Ontario as Fresh-Moist Sugar Maple Deciduous Forest for subpopulations at Rondeau Provincial Park but are unknown for the Three-Birds Woodlot popualtion (Jones et al. 2013). Additional habitat assessments are required to describe and map the specific ELC ecosites currently occupied by the Nodding Pogonia.

The 50 m distance is considered a minimum ‘critical function zone’, or minimum size required for maintaining constituent microhabitat properties for a species (e.g., critical light, temperature, litter moisture, humidity levels necessary for survival). At present, it is not clear at what exact distances physical and/or biological processes begin to negatively affect Nodding Pogonia. Studies on micro-environmental gradients at habitat edges, including light, temperature, litter moisture (Matlack 1993), and of edge effects on plants in mixed hardwood forests, as evidenced by changes in plant community structure and composition (Fraver 1994), have shown that edge effects could be detected up to 50 m into habitat fragments although other studies show that the magnitude and distance of edge effects will vary depending on the structure and composition of adjacent habitat types (Harper et al. 2005). Forman and Alexander (1998) and Forman et al. (2003) found that most roadside edge effects on plants resulting from construction and repeated traffic have their greatest impact within the first 30 to 50 m. Therefore, a 50 m distance from any Nodding Pogonia plant was chosen as a precautionary distance to ensure that microhabitat properties were maintained as part of the identification of critical habitat. The area within the critical function zone may include both suitable and unsuitable habitat as Nodding Pogonia may be found near a transition area/zone between suitable and unsuitable habitat. As new information on species’ habitat requirements and site-specific characteristics, such as hydrology, become available, these distances may be refined.

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5.1.3 Application of the Criteria to Identify Critical Habitat for Nodding Pogonia

Critical habitat for Nodding Pogonia is identified as the extent of suitable habitat (section 5.1.2) where the occupancy criterion (section 5.1.1) is met. In cases where the suitable habitat extends for less than 50 m around a Nodding Pogonia, a critical function zone capturing an area within a radial distance of 50 m is also included as critical habitat. In Ontario, as noted above, suitable habitat for Nodding Pogonia is most appropriately identified as the ELC ecosite. At the present time, the ecosite descriptions and boundaries are not available to support the identification of critical habitat for all populations in Ontario. In the interim, where ELC ecosite boundaries are not available, ELC community series level is identified as the area within which critical habitat is found. In Ontario, critical habitat is located within these boundaries where the biophysical attributes described in section 5.1.2 are found and where the occupancy criterion is met (section 5.1.1). When ecosite boundaries are determined, the identification of critical habitat will be updated.

Application of the critical habitat criteria to the best available data identifies critical habitat for the two known extant populations of Nodding Pogonia in Canada (Figure 1, see also Table 1, totaling up to ~534 haFootnote 18.  The critical habitat identified is considered a partial identification of critical habitat, insufficient to meet the population and distribution objectives. Although some critical habitat is currently identified at the Three Birds Woodlot, population status and viability needs to be assessed, as well as an evaluation completed to determine whether the current amount of critical habitat identified for the population is sufficient to maintain it.

Critical habitat for Nodding Pogonia is presented using 1 x 1 km UTM grid squares. The UTM grid squares presented in Figure 1 are part of a standardized grid system that indicates the general geographic areas containing critical habitat for land use planning and/or environmental assessment purposes. In addition to providing these benefits, the 1 km x 1 km UTM grid respects provincial data-sharing agreements in Ontario. Critical habitat within each grid square occurs where the description of habitat occupancy (section 5.1.1) and habitat suitability (section 5.1.2) are met.  Human-made structures (e.g., maintained roadways, buildings) do not assist in the maintenance of natural processes and therefore are not considered critical habitat.  More detailed information on critical habitat may be requested on a need-to-know basis by contacting Environment Canada – Canadian Wildlife Service at

Figure 1. Grid squares that contain critical habitat for the Nodding Pogonia in Canada.

Critical habitat for the Nodding Pogonia occurs within these 1 x 1 km Standardized UTM grid squares (red hatched squares) where the description of habitat occupancy (section 5.1.1) and habitat suitability (section 5.1.2) are met.

Map of critical habitat for the Nodding Pogonia in Canada
Long description for Figure 1

Figure 1 shows the 16 grid squares in Ontario; they are all located in Rondeau Provincial Park.

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Critical habitat for the Nodding Pogonia occurs within these 1 x 1 km Standardized UTM grid squares where the description of habitat occupancy (section 5.1.1) and habitat suitability (section 5.1.2) are met.

Table 1. Grid squares that contain critical habitat for the Nodding Pogonia in Canada.
Population1 x 1 km Standardized UTM grid square IDNote a of Table 1UTM Grid Square CoordinatesNote b of Table 1

UTM Grid Square CoordinatesNote b of Table 1

Land tenureNote c of Table 1
Three Birds Woodlot17LG75463740004656000Non-federal
Three Birds Woodlot17LG75473740004657000Non-federal
Rondeau Provincial Park17MG27884280004678000Non-federal
Rondeau Provincial Park17MG27894280004679000Non-federal
Rondeau Provincial Park17MG27984290004678000Non-federal
Rondeau Provincial Park17MG27994290004679000Non-federal
Rondeau Provincial Park17MG28904290004680000Non-federal
Rondeau Provincial Park17MG28914290004681000Non-federal
Rondeau Provincial Park17MG28924290004682000Non-federal
Rondeau Provincial Park17MG28934290004683000Non-federal
Rondeau Provincial Park17MG29944290004684000Non-federal
Rondeau Provincial Park17MG37094300004679000Non-federal
Rondeau Provincial Park17MG38004300004680000Non-federal
Rondeau Provincial Park17MG38014300004681000Non-federal
Rondeau Provincial Park17MG38024300004682000Non-federal
Rondeau Provincial Park17MG38034300004683000Non-federal
Rondeau Provincial Park17MG38044300004684000Non-federal
Rondeau Provincial Park17MG38054300004685000Non-federal

Total = 18 grid squares

Notes of Table 1

Note [a] of Table 1

Based on the standard UTM Military Grid Reference System (see Finding UTM References ), where the first 2 digits represent the UTM Zone, the following 2 letters indicate the 100 x 100 km Standardized UTM grid, followed by 2 digits to represent the 10 x 10 km Standardized UTM grid. . The last 2 digits represent the 1 x 1 km Standardized UTM grid containing all or a portion of the critical habitat unit. This unique alphanumeric code is based on the methodology produced from the Breeding Bird Atlases of Canada (See Bird Studies Canada for more information on breeding bird atlases).

Return to note a referrer of table 1

Note [b] of Table 1

The listed coordinates are a cartographic representation of where critical habitat can be found, presented as the southwest corner of the 1 x 1 km Standardized UTM grid square containing all or a portion of the critical habitat unit. The coordinates may not fall within critical habitat and are provided as a general location only.

Return to note b referrer of table 1

Note [c] of Table 1

Land tenure is provided as an approximation of the types of land ownership that exist at the critical habitat units and should be used for guidance purposes only. Accurate land tenure will require cross referencing critical habitat boundaries with surveyed land parcel information.

Return to note c referrer of table 1

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5.2 Schedule of Studies to Identify Critical Habitat

Table 2. Schedule of Studies

Description of Activity
Conduct surveys of the species and habitat at Three Birds Woodlot and identify additional critical habitat, if required.
To assess the current status and quality of the occurrence (viability); complete habitat mapping (e.g., ELC ecosite mapping).

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5.3 Activities Likely to Result in the Destruction of Critical Habitat

Understanding what constitutes destruction of critical habitat is necessary for the protection and management of critical habitat. Destruction is determined on a case by case basis. Destruction would result if part of the critical habitat was degraded, either permanently or temporarily, such that it would not serve its function when needed by the species. Destruction may result from a single activity or multiple activities at one point in time or from the cumulative effects of one or more activities over time (Government of Canada 2009). It should be noted that not all activities that occur in or near critical habitat are likely to cause its destruction. Activities described in Table 3 are examples of those likely to cause destruction of critical habitat for the species; however, destructive activities are not necessarily limited to those listed.

Table 3. Activities Likely to Result in the Destruction of Critical Habitat

Description of Activity
Descriptions of Effect in Relation to Function Loss
Details of Effect

Activities that damage mycorrhizal fungal associations, especially those that introduce exotic plants or invertebrates (e.g. introduction of non-native plant seeds, plants, foreign soil or gravel, composting or dumping of garden waste, ATV use, livestock grazing).

The introduction of invasive species can result in chemical changes in the soil that inhibit the growth of mycorrhizal fungi or physical changes to the soil that reduce fungal diversity which is essential for the reproduction of Nodding Pogonia. Invasive plants can also increase competition and both increased competition and presence of earthworms can cause physical changes to habitat such that it is no longer suitable for the species.

When these activities occur within or immediately adjacent to the critical habitat at any time of year, the effects may be cumulative. They can result in introduction of invasive species that can cause gradual destruction of critical habitat over time. The information available at this time is insufficient to develop a threshold for this activity.

Conversion of forested areas to agriculture or residential development, directly altering the physical and biological properties of the landscape.

The loss of habitat results in the direct loss of critical habitat upon which the species relies for basic survival, successful seed germination and seedling establishment.

When this activity occurs within the critical habitat at any time of year, the effects will be direct. This activity will result in habitat destruction because Nodding Pogonia requires a mature forest environment.

The occurrence of this activity adjacent to critical habitat at any time of year could cause detrimental indirect effects on Nodding Pogonia habitat, due to the risk of edge effects resulting from land conversion practices.

Alteration of natural drainage patterns and moisture levels causing changes to local surface or groundwater levels (e.g. tile or channel drainage, installation of dams, road construction).

Results in alterations to the available soil moisture and potentially humidity within forested areas.

When this activity occurs within, or adjacent to critical habitat at any time of year, the effects may be direct and/or cumulative. The likelihood of habitat destruction is dependent upon the degree of change to existing drainage patterns, and the distance from the Nodding Pogonia occurrence. The information available at this time is insufficient to develop a threshold for this activity.

Removal of native vegetation component of critical habitat, including clear-cut and selective forest harvesting.

Forest management involving the opening of the well-developed canopy layer required by Nodding Pogonia can cause an increase in light penetration within the mature forest, reduction in soil moisture, reduction in summer air humidity, and an increase in the probability of invasive species being introduced on forestry equipment, and ultimately results in habitat no longer being suitable for the species.

When this activity occurs within the critical habitat at any time of year, the effects may be direct or cumulative. This activity is very likely to result in habitat destruction because Nodding Pogonia requires a mature forest environment with deep shade and high soil moisture. The information available at this time is insufficient to develop a threshold for this activity.

The occurrence of this activity adjacent to critical habitat at any time of year could cause detrimental indirect effects on Nodding Pogonia habitat, due to the risk of edge effects resulting from removal of native vegetation.

Application of herbicides or fungicides.

Herbicides and fungicides may potentially destroy or deplete the mycorrhizal fungi upon which the species depends for germination and growth throughout its life cycle.

When this activity occurs within or immediately adjacent to critical habitat at any time of year, its effects may be direct or cumulative. The critical habitat will be destroyed if the soil fungi required by Nodding Pogonia are significantly depleted or destroyed. The information available at this time is insufficient to develop a threshold for this activity.

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6. Measuring Progress

  • The performance indicators presented below provide a way to define and measure progress toward achieving the population and distribution objectives. Every five years, success of recovery strategy implementation will be measured against the following performance indicators:
    • The integrity of the Rondeau population’s habitat is maintained and the population persists, including all sub-populations, with no significant change to its previously documented range or population viability;
    • The Three Birds Woodlot is monitored for the presence of Nodding Pogonia where possible, and the habitat integrity of the natural forest is maintained;
    • In the event that Nodding Pogonia is re-discovered at the Three Birds Woodlot, the population is fully documented, and threats identified.

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7. Statement on Action Plans

One or more action plans will be completed for the Nodding Pogonia and posted on the Species at Risk Public Registry by December 31, 2022.

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8. Effects on the Environment and Other Species

A strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is conducted on all SARA recovery planning documents, in accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals. The purpose of a SEA is to incorporate environmental considerations into the development of public policies, plans, and program proposals to support environmentally sound decision-making and to evaluate whether the outcomes of a recovery planning document could affect any component of the environment or any of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy’s goals and targets.

Recovery planning is intended to benefit species at risk and biodiversity in general. However, it is recognized that strategies may also inadvertently lead to environmental effects beyond the intended benefits. The planning process based on national guidelines directly incorporates consideration of all environmental effects, with a particular focus on possible impacts upon non-target species or habitats. The results of the SEA are incorporated directly into the strategy itself, but are also summarized below in this statement.

In general, protecting the forested habitat of this species in Canada will benefit other species and ecosystem functions within the heavily altered Carolinian life zone. The species is highly localized and occurs at only two locations. American Chestnut (Castanea dentata) was documented in the western portion of the Three Birds Woodlot (Zavitz and Gaiser 1956, cited in Woodliffe 1988), but is it not known if it persists given its widespread population decline. Eastern Mole (Scalopus aquaticus) has also been documented at the Three Birds Woodlot (Oldham 1983), however the current status of that population is unknown. No other currently listed species are known from the Rondeau sites where Nodding Pogonia is found (M. Cairns pers. comm. 2014). It is possible, however, that species such as Eastern Foxsnake (Elaphe gloydi) or Milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum) may use the habitat (M. Cairns pers. comm. 2014).

The potential for this recovery strategy to inadvertently lead to adverse effects on other species was considered. Because no management activities are proposed for the stable mature forest habitat of Nodding Pogonia in Canada, and the orchid is highly localized with no known co-occurring species at risk, the SEA concluded that this strategy will clearly benefit the environment and will not entail significant adverse effects.

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Anderson, A. 1990. Improved germination and growth of rare native Ontario orchid species. Pages 65-73 in G. M. Allen, P.F.J. Eagles, and S.D. Price, editors. Conserving Carolinian Canada: Conservation Biology in the Deciduous Forest Region. University of Waterloo Press, Waterloo, Ontario.

Baxter, J. W., S. T. A. Pickett, M. M. Carreiro, and J. Dighton. 1999. Ectomycorrhizal diversity and community structure in oak forest stands exposed to contrasting anthropogenic impacts. Canadian Journal of Botany 77:771-782.

Brouillet, L., F. Coursol, S. J. Meades, M. Favreau, M. Anions, P. Belisle, and P. Desmet. 2010+. VASCAN, the Database of Vascular Plants of Canada. Accessed 15 January 2014.

Cairns, M., pers. comm. 2014. Personal communication with H. Bickerton, January 2014. Southwest Zone Ecologist, Ontario Parks.

Case, F. W. 1964. Orchids of the Western Great Lakes Region. Cranbrook Institute of Science, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

Correll, D.S., 1950. Native Orchids of North American north of Mexico. Chronica Botanica Co., Waltham, MA (cited in COSEWIC 2011).

COSEWIC. 2010. COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Nodding Pogonia Triphora trianthophora in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, Ottawa. x + 22 pp.

COSEWIC. 2011. COSEWIC status appraisal summary on the Small Whorled Pogonia Isotria medeoloides in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. xi pp.

Dearnaley, J. 2007. Further advances in orchid mycorrhizal research. Mycorrhiza, 17 (6), 475-486. ISSN 0940-6360.

Forman, R.T.T. and L.E. Alexander. 1998. Roads and Their Major Ecological Effects. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, 29: 207-231.

Forman, R. T. T., D. Sperling, J. A. Bissonette, A. P. Clevenger, C. D. Cutshall, V. H. Dale, L. Fahrig, R. France, C. R. Goldman, K. Heanue, J. A. Jones, F. J. Swanson, T. Turrentine, and T. C. Winter. 2003. Road Ecology. Science and Solutions. Island Press, Washington, D.C., USA. 481 pp.

Fraver, S. 1994. Vegetation responses along edge-to-interior gradients in the mixed hardwood forests of the Roanoke River Basin, North Carolina. Conserv. Biol. 8(3): 822-832.

Government of Canada. 2009. Species at Risk Act Policies: Overarching policy framework [DRAFT]. Government of Canada, Ottawa. iv + 38pp.

Hale, C. M., L. E. Frelich, P. B. Reich, and J. Pastor. 2005. Effects of European earthworm invasion on soil characteristics in northern hardwood forests of Minnesota, USA. Ecosystems 8:911-927.

Harper K. A., S.E. Macdonald, P. J.  Burton , J. Chen , K. D. Brosofske , S.C. Saunders, E.S. Euskirchen, D. Roberts,  M.S Jaiteh, P.A Esseen 2005.  Edge influence on forest structure and composition in fragmented landscapes. Conservation Biology 19:768–782.

Homoya, M. A. 1993. Orchids of Indiana. Indiana Academy of Science, Indianapolis.

Jones, J., J. V. Jalava, and J. D. Ambrose. 2013. Recovery Strategy for the Nodding Pogonia (Triphora trianthophora) in Ontario. Ontario Recovery Strategy Series. Prepared for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Peterborough, Ontario. V + 29 pp.

Lee, H. T., W.D. Bakowsky, J. Riley, J.  Bowles, M.  Puddister,  P. Uhlig, and S. McMurray. 1998. Ecological Land Classification for Southern Ontario: First approximation and its application. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Southcentral Science Section, Science Development and Transfer Branch. SCSS Field Guide FG-02.

Matlack, G.R. 1993. Microenvironment variation within and among forest edge sites in the eastern United States. Biol. Conserv. 66(3): 185-194.

Muratake, S. 2005. Effects of exotic Earthworms on northern hardwood forests in North America. Restoration and Reclamation Review 8:1-11.

NatureServe 2014. Explorer: online encyclopedia of plants, animals, and ecosystems of the U.S. and Canada. accessed October 30, 2014.

Nuzzo, V.A., J.C. Maerz and B. Blossey. 2009. Earthworm Invasion as the Driving Force Behind Plant Invasion and Community Change in Northeastern North American Forests. Conservation Biology 23(4):966–974.

Oldham, M.J. 1983. Environmentally Significant Areas of the Essex Region. Essex Region Conservation Authority, Essex, Ontario.

Ontario Parks. 2001. Rondeau Vegetation Management Plan. Queen's Printer for Ontario, Ontario, Canada. 68 pp.

Porcher, R.D. 1977. The rediscovery of Triphora trianthophora, Three Birds Orchid, in the coastal plain of South Carolina. Castanea 42:108-111.

Ramstetter, J. M. 2001. Triphora trianthophora (Swartz) Rydb. Three-birds orchid. Conservation and Research Plan., New England Wildflower Society, Framingham, MA. 26 pp.

Reddoch, J. M. and A.H. Reddoch. 1997. The  orchids in the Ottawa District: floristics, phytogeography, population studies and a historical review. Canadian Field-Naturalists 111:185 pp.

Sheviak, C. J. 1974. An introduction to the ecology of the Illinois Orchidaceae. Springfield: Illinois State Museum. 89 pp.

Weber, S., pers. comm. 2014. Personal communication with H. Bickerton, January 2014. Owner, Bluestem Farm, Baraboo, Wisconsin.

Williams, S. A. 1994. Observations on reproduction in Triphora trianthophora (Orchidaceae). Rhodora 96:30-43.

Woodliffe, P. A. 1988. Status report on the Nodding Pogonia (Triphora trianthophora) in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service, Ottawa, Ontario. 34 pp.

Woodliffe, P. A. 2011. Facts, figures and the unfolding status of Nodding Pogonia (Triphora trianthophora) Unpublished report to Rondeau Provincial Park.

Zavitz, C. H. and L. O. Gaiser. 1956. Notes on Triphora trianthophora in Ontario. Rhodora 58:31-35.

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Footnote 1

Please note that the accepted scientific name has recently changed from Triphora trianthophora to Triphora trianthophoros (Brouillet et al. 2010).

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Footnote 2

On June 26, 2014, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources became the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

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Footnote 3

Nodding Pogonia is also known as the “Three-birds Orchid”.

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Footnote 4

In existence; still existing; not destroyed or lost.

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Footnote 5

At moderate risk of extinction due to a restricted range, relatively few populations (often 80 or fewer), recent and widespread declines, or other factors.

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Footnote 6

Critically imperiled in the province because of extreme rarity (often 5 or fewer occurrences) or because of some factor(s) such as very steep declines making  it especially vulnerable to extirpation from the province.

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Footnote 7

A wildlife species that is facing imminent extirpation or extinction.

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Footnote 8

Lives in the wild in Ontario but is facing imminent extinction or extirpation.

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Footnote 9

The symbiotic association of the vegetative part of a fungus (mycelium) with the roots of plants. The fungus assists in the absorption of minerals and water from the soil and defends the roots from other fungi and nematodes, while the plant provides carbohydrates to the fungus.

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Footnote 10

Organic matter in various stages of decomposition on the floor of the forest.

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Footnote 11

The dark organic material in soils, produced by the decomposition of vegetable or animal matter and essential to the fertility of the earth.

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Footnote 12

A fleshy underground stem that is similar to a bulb but stores its food as stem tissue and has fewer and thinner leaflike scales.

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Footnote 13

The probability of persistence.

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Footnote 14

Fair Viability: This rank may be applied to relatively low-quality occurrences with respect to size, condition, and/or landscape context if they still appear to have reasonable prospects for persistence for the foreseeable future (at least 20-30 years).

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Footnote 15

Historical: In the absence of known disturbance and with the habitat still extant, H is generally recommended for occurrences that have not been reconfirmed for 20 or more years, but for many short-lived insects a shorter interval may be appropriate, and for unusually stable habitats (like undisturbed caves), or for certain plants whose seeds may persist and remain viable in the soil for decades, a longer interval, up to 40 years, may be used.

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Footnote 16

Under the federal SARA, there are specific requirements and processes set out regarding the protection of critical habitat.  Protection of critical habitat under SARA will be assessed following publication of the final federal recovery strategy.

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Footnote 17

Adequate surveys by one or more experienced observers at times and under conditions appropriate for the species at the occurrence location, or other persuasive evidence, indicate that the species no longer exists there or that the habitat or environment of the occurrence has been destroyed to such an extent that it can no longer support the species.

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Footnote 18

This is the maximum extent of critical habitat based on suitable habitat boundaries that can be delineated from high resolution aerial photography (comparable to ELC Community Series and/or a 50m radial distance around Nodding Pogonia. Actual critical habitat occurs only in those areas described in section 5.1 and  therefore, the actual area could be less than this and would require field verification to determine the precise amount.

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Part 1 - Federal Addition to the Recovery Strategy for the Nodding Pogonia (Triphora trianthophora) in Ontario, prepared by Environment Canada