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Recovery Strategy for the Mormon Metalmark (Apodemia mormo) Prairie Population in Canada (Proposed)

Executive Summary

The Mormon metalmark is a medium-sized butterfly (wingspan of 25 to 35 mm) of arid regions that is named for white metallic markings covering both of its wings. In Canada, there are two populations of Mormon metalmark. The Southern Mountain population in the Similkameen River Valley of British Columbia is listed as "endangered". This recovery strategy addresses the Prairie population, which was designated by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) as Threatened in 2002. The Prairie population is located in southwestern Saskatchewan within the current and proposed Grasslands National Park (GNP) boundaries. However, only two limited metalmark surveys have ever been conducted for the Prairie population (Hooper 2002, Henderson 2006 (unpublished data)); therefore knowledge of habitat requirements for the Canadian Prairie population are extremely limited and most of the current information comes from the United States. Additionally, the number of Prairie colonies is unknown and surveys have never been conducted in Alberta. Recovery is considered feasible; however critical habitat is not defined in this recovery strategy.

Although information is limited, it appears that in Saskatchewan Mormon metalmarks typically occur on hillsides, slopes, or embankments on barren clay or heavy clay soil where its host plant, the branched umbrella plant (Eriogonum pauciflorum) occurs. In general, the literature suggests that this butterfly is associated with unstable slopes where the natural erosion of the sand or gravel substrate provides habitat for the host plant. Adult metalmarks require mature, robust branched umbrella plants for oviposition and both the flowering branched umbrella plant and the rubber rabbitbrush (Ericameria nauseosa) for foraging. Mormon metalmark larvae utilise the branched umbrella plant for feeding and require the woody stems or underlying leaf litter for hibernation. The size of the Prairie population has yet to be determined, but is speculated to be larger than the Southern Mountain population. It is not known whether or not this population is isolated from populations in northern Montana.

The main threats to the species are invasive exotic species, pollution, accidental mortality, potential climate change and habitat loss and degradation due to urban and agricultural development, agricultural practices, all-terrain vehicle traffic, and wild fire.

The recovery goal for the Prairie population of the Mormon metalmark is to:

Maintain suitable habitat and ecological linkages within the known range of the Prairie population of the Mormon metalmark, which preserves the opportunity for natural processes to shape the population dynamics and the evolution of the species.

The recovery objectives are:

  1. By 2009, assess and map all potential Mormon metalmark habitat in the known range of the Prairie population and determine whether it is currently occupied.
  2. Determine whether other Mormon metalmark populations exist outside of the known range by 2010.
  3. Beginning in 2007, determine the adult population size of all known prairie colonies of Mormon metalmark butterflies.
  4. By 2010, identify and begin implementing best management practices and stewardship agreements.
  5. By 2012, determine the extent that Canadian Prairie populations of Mormon metalmark are linked by dispersal to each other and to Montana populations.
  6. Where appropriate, integrate Mormon metalmark recovery efforts into multi-species recovery and broader conservation programs for grassland species and prairie conservation by 2012.