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Recovery Strategy for Multi-Species at Risk in Maritime Meadows associated with Garry Oak Ecosystems in Canada (Proposed)

Multi-Species Recovery

1.7 Critical habitat

No critical habitat, as defined under the federal Species at Risk Act [s2], is proposed for identification at this time.

While much is known about the habitat needs of the species included within this recovery strategy, more definitive work must be completed before any specific sites can be formally proposed as critical habitat. It is expected that critical habitat will be proposed within one or more recovery action plans following: 1) consultation and development of stewardship options with affected landowners and organizations and 2) completion of outstanding work required to quantify specific habitat and area requirements for these species. A schedule of studies outlining work necessary to identify critical habitat is found below (Section 1.7.4).

Following completion of key work such as development and implementation of a landowner contact program, it is anticipated that proposed critical habitat may include habitat currently occupied by one or more species addressed within this recovery strategy. A more complete definition of proposed critical habitat that also incorporates potential habitat will be addressed at a later date, through the Recovery Action Plan.

A description of the biotic and abiotic features of each species' habitat is included in each of the species-specific sections. A summary table of habitat attributes is included in section 1.3 Habitat area covered by the recovery strategy.

1.7.1 Occupied habitat

Proposed critical habitat should include occupied habitat, and surrounding buffers of appropriate potential habitat to allow dispersal and prevent invasion of invasive species. In order to accurately define the boundaries of each location on the ground for designation of critical habitat, further studies are needed, as detailed below (section 1.7.4). All confirmed locations supporting a viable or potential viable population of each species will form essential components of any proposed critical habitat. Island marble has been extirpated from Canada, so the only habitat occupied by this species occurs in the United States.

1.7.2 Potential habitat

Proposed critical habitat should include surrounding buffers of appropriate potential habitat to allow dispersal and prevent invasion of invasive species. In order to accurately define the boundaries of each location on the ground for designation of critical habitat, further studies are needed as detailed below (section 1.7.4).

The present distribution of each species is insufficient for full recovery of the species as defined under the species-specific recovery goals in Table 6. Additional habitat needed by these species in order to maintain a self-sustaining and viable population level, is required to meet the needs of each species, and this will likely include extant maritime meadow ecosystems that remain in a near natural state. However, further research and research trials are required to determine the feasibility of translocations before critical habitat can be proposed for designation. Potential habitat may require extensive restoration and mitigation of adverse effects before it is suitable. Native foodplants may need to be introduced in sufficient quantity for habitat to support viable populations of both the island marble and Taylor's checkerspot.

1.7.3 Examples of activities that are likely to result in destruction of any critical habitat identified in the future

Examples of activities that would be expected to result in the destruction of proposed critical habitat include:

  • Residential development
  • Recreational activities (bicycling, horseback riding, off-road vehicles, dog-walking)
  • Hydrological alterations (draining or ditching)
  • Livestock grazing
  • Maintenance activities (mowing, trail building, installment of structures, chemical use)

1.7.4 Schedule of studies to determine critical habitat

Further research in the following areas is required to define critical habitat for all seven plant and two invertebrate species:

  1. Document microhabitat conditions where populations now exist as well as the conditions that prevailed for locations of extirpated populations (i.e. critical abiotic and biotic features of habitat including: soil texture, soil depth, slope, aspect, hydrologic regime for the entire growing period, species composition, etc.). Particular attention should be paid to locations in Canada with robust populations and care should be taken not to extrapolate from conditions prevailing at remote locations where there may be major differences in the flora and macroclimate that invalidate comparisons. Suggested completion date: 2008.

  2. Work with landowners and land managers to develop mechanisms to protect and manage areas of important habitat for these species to ensure their survival and recovery. Suggested completion date: 2008

  3. For each population of species in which micro-catchment drainage patterns (small internal drainages in which most or all of the populations occur) determines viability of habitat, map the entire microcatchment area. Suggested completion date: 2010.

  4. Determine the suitability of contemporary habitat in locations where populations have been extirpated. Suggested completion date: 2010.

  5. Identify high quality unoccupied sites and conduct phenologically appropriate surveys to determine whether they possess the key hydrological and biotic attributes that prevail where the species occurs. Suggested completion date: 2010.

  6. Test the suitability of high quality unoccupied sites identified in (4) by attempting to establish, maintain and monitor an experimental population in one of the locations. Suggested completion date: 2010.

  7. Identify and prioritize high quality unsurveyed sites and conduct phenologically appropriate surveys to determine the presence/absence of undocumented populations of extirpated species. Suggested completion date: 2009.