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Recovery Strategy for the Pink Sand-verbena (Abronia umbellata) in Canada (Proposed)

Executive Summary


Pink Sand-verbena was assessed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) as an endangered species in Canada in May 2004 and added to Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act in July 2005. It is an endemic species of the central west coast of North America and has been designated a species of Special Concern in the U.S. Its current Canadian range consists of a single population in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, on the west coast of Vancouver Island. It has not been seen there since 2001, despite annual surveys at the precise location where it was last observed. The most serious threat it faces is a high probability of demographic collapse, since the population has never been large and is either extirpated or now consists of buried seeds. Recreational activities associated with the West Coast Trail, winter storms which rework sandy beaches in the upper foreshore environments where it grows and increased log deposition also threaten the population. Invasive grasses, which have colonized other beaches in the area, present an impending threat.

There are significant knowledge gaps. The size, nature and distribution of the soil seedbank (if one exists) at the only recently recorded occurrence is not known. Re-introduction techniques developed for the species elsewhere in its range have not been tested in Canada. Demographic patterns have not been described, although they likely hold the key to effective long-term management. There are no records of extant populations elsewhere in or near its historical range in Canada but past survey efforts may have been inadequate.

Recovery Feasibility

Recovery is considered feasible. The last-observed population may still be extant as banked seeds and even if this is not the case there is a small amount of seed collected on site in 2001. Techniques have been developed to propagate the plants and re-introduce them to suitable habitat; these techniques are likely transferable to Canada. The habitat at the most recently-observed occurrence is relatively intact, as are several other similar beaches in the historic range of the species. There are no unavoidable threats to the species or its habitat that preclude recovery.

Recovery Goal and Objectives

The goal of the Pink Sand-verbena recovery strategy is to establish three viable populations, spread across the historic range in Canada. This goal will be achieved by increasing the population size at the most recently-observed occurrence, removing beach logs that threaten the habitat, increasing public awareness of the species, establishing permanent protection for historic occurrences, engaging all implicated landowners, and identifying promising translocation sites, restoring their proper functioning condition, and successfully establishing two further populations.