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Management Plan for the Oldgrowth Specklebelly Lichen (Pseudocyphellaria rainierensis) in Canada - 2017

Part 2 - Management Plan for the Oldgrowth Specklebelly (Pseudocyphellaria rainierensis) in British Columbia, prepared by the British Columbia Ministry of Environment

Management Plan for the Oldgrowth Specklebelly (Pseudocyphellaria rainierensis) in British Columbia

Oldgrowth Specklebelly
Photo: © Ryan Batten.

Prepared by the B.C. Ministry of Environment

British Columbia Ministry of Environment

September 2015

Document information

About the British Columbia management plan series

This series presents the management plans that are prepared as advice to the Province of British Columbia. Management plans are prepared in accordance with the priorities and management actions assigned under the British Columbia Conservation Framework. The Province prepares management plans for species’ that may be at risk of becoming endangered or threatened due to sensitivity to human activities or natural events.

What is a management plan?

A management plan identifies a set of coordinated conservation activities and land use measures needed to ensure, at a minimum, that the target species does not become threatened or endangered. A management plan summarizes the best available science-based information on biology and threats to inform the development of a management framework. Management plans set goals and objectives, and recommend approaches appropriate for species or ecosystem conservation.

What's next?

Direction set in the management plan provides valuable information on threats and direction on conservation measures that may be used by individuals, communities, land users, conservationists, academics, and governments interested in species and ecosystem conservation.

For more information

To learn more about species at risk recovery planning in British Columbia, please visit the Ministry of Environment Recovery Planning webpage

Recommended citation

B.C. Ministry of Environment. 2015. Management plan for oldgrowth specklebelly (Pseudocyphellaria rainierensis) in British Columbia. B.C. Ministry of Environment, Victoria, BC. 18pp.

Cover illustration/photograph

© Ryan Batten

Additional copies

Additional copies can be downloaded from the B.C. Ministry of Environment Recovery Planning webpage


The B.C. Ministry of Environment has prepared this management plan as advice to the responsible jurisdictions and organizations that may be involved in managing the species.

This document identifies the management actions that are deemed necessary, based on the best available scientific and traditional information, to prevent oldgrowth specklebelly populations in British Columbia from becoming endangered or threatened. Management actions to achieve the goals and objectives identified herein are subject to the priorities and budgetary constraints of participatory agencies and organizations. These goals, objectives, and management approaches may be modified in the future to accommodate new objectives and findings.

The responsible jurisdictions have had an opportunity to review this document. However, this document does not necessarily represent the official positions of the agencies.

Success in the conservation of this species depends on the commitment and cooperation of many different constituencies that may be involved in implementing the directions set out in this management plan. The B.C. Ministry of Environment encourages all British Columbians to participate in the conservation of oldgrowth specklebelly.


Brenda Costanzo (B.C. Ministry of Environment [MOE]) prepared this management plan. Additional assistance was provided by Trevor Goward (Enlichened Consulting Ltd.); Jenifer Penny and Marta Donovan (B.C. Conservation Data Centre); Peter Fielder, Dave Fraser, and Leah Westereng (MOE); and Byron Woods (Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations). Additional comments by: Paul Johanson [Environment Canada (EC) –Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) – National Capital Region (NCR), Kella Sadler (EC-CWS-Pacific Yukon Region (PYR), Matt Huntley (EC-CWS-PYR]. Funding for technical review and threats assessment was provided by the Land Based Investment Strategy.

Executive Summary

Oldgrowth specklebelly (Pseudocyphellaria rainierensis) is a leafy lichen, typically found growing on amabilis fir trees, in close association with yellow cedar, in old-growth rainforests of western North America.

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) designated oldgrowth specklebelly as Special Concern due to the loss of old-growth forests. As well, the species has low dispersal ability and is restricted to nutrient hotspots such as dripzones under old yellow-cedars, toe slope positions, and sheltered seaside forests. It is listed as Special Concern in Canada on Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA). In British Columbia, oldgrowth specklebelly is ranked S2S3 (imperiled to vulnerable) by the B.C. Conservation Data Centre and is on the provincial Blue list. The B.C. Conservation Framework ranks oldgrowth specklebelly as a priority 2 under goals 1 and 3 (1 = contribute to global efforts for species and ecosystem conservation; 3 = maintain the diversity of native species and ecosystems).

The greatest current threat is from logging and wood harvesting.

The management goal is to maintain all known extant populations and any future populations of oldgrowth specklebelly that may be found in British Columbia.

The following management objectives will guide work in the near term:

  1. to secure long-term protection Content Footnote 1for the known populations and habitats of oldgrowth specklebelly;
  2. to determine the levels of real and potential threats to this species and its habitat and to mitigate their effects; and
  3. to confirm the distribution of oldgrowth specklebelly (including new locations) and to reliably determine population trends through monitoring.

1 COSEWIC Table Footnote a Species Assessment Information

assessment Summary - April 2010

Date of Assessment:
April 2010
Common Name (population):
Oldgrowth Specklebelly Lichen
Scientific Name:
Pseudocyphellaria rainierensis
Special Concern
Reason for Designation:
This foliose, tree-inhabiting lichen is endemic to old-growth rainforests of western North America. In Canada, it is limited to coastal or near-coastal areas of southern British Columbia. Recent discoveries of additional records have only slightly expanded the known range of occurrence, and the lichen remains threatened by ongoing loss of old growth forests through clear-cut logging. The low dispersal ability of its heavy propagules contributes to its rarity, as does its restriction to nutrient hotspots, such as dripzones under old yellow-cedars, toe slope positions, and sheltered seaside forests. It tends to occur discontinuously and on very few trees in the stands where it is established.
Canadian Occurrence:
British Columbia
Status History:
Designated Special Concern in April 1996. Status re-examined and confirmed April 2010.

Table Footnote

Footnote 1

Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

Return to Footnote a referrer

Footnote x

Common and scientific names reported in this management plan follow the naming conventions of the B.C. Conservation Data Centre, which may be different from names reported by COSEWIC.

Return to Footnote n/a referrer

2. Species Status Information

Oldgrowth Specklebelly Table Footnote b

Legal Designation:
FRPA: Table Footnote c No
OGAA: Table Footnote c No
B.C. Wildlife Act: Table Footnote d No
SARA Schedule: 1 – Special Concern Table Footnote b (2012)
Conservation Status Table Footnote e
BC List: Blue
BC Rank: S2S3 (2010)
National Rank: N2N3 (2013)
Global Rank: G3G4 (2006)
Other Subnational Ranks: Table Footnote f OR (S3); WA (S2)
B.C. Conservation Framework (CF) Table Footnote g
Goal 1: Contribute to global efforts for species and ecosystem conservation. Priority: 2 Table Footnote h (2009)
Goal 2: Prevent species and ecosystems from becoming at risk. Priority: 6 (2009)
Goal 3: Maintain the diversity of native species and ecosystems. Priority: 2 (2009)
CF Action Groups: Table Footnote g
Inventory; Compile Status Report; List under Wildlife Act; Planning; Send to COSEWIC; Habitat Protection; Species and Population Management; Private Land Stewardship

Table Footnote

Footnote 2

Data source: B.C. Conservation Data Centre (2015) unless otherwise noted.

Return to Footnote b referrer

Footnote 3

No = not listed in one of the categories of wildlife that requires special management attention to address the impacts of forest and range activities on Crown land under the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA; Province of British Columbia 2002) and/or the impacts of oil and gas activities on Crown land under the Oil and Gas Activities Act (OGAA; Province of British Columbia 2008).

Return to Footnote c referrer

Footnote 4

No = not designated as wildlife under the B.C. Wildlife Act (Province of British Columbia 1982).

Return to Footnote d referrer

Footnote 5

S = subnational; N = national; G = global; T = refers to the subspecies level; B = breeding; X = presumed extirpated; H = possibly extirpated; 1 = critically imperiled; 2 = imperiled; 3 = special concern, vulnerable to extirpation or extinction; 4 = apparently secure; 5 = demonstrably widespread, abundant, and secure; NA = not applicable; NR = unranked; U = unrankable.

Return to Footnote e referrer

Footnote 6

Data source: NatureServe (2015).

Return to Footnote f referrer

Footnote 7

Data source: B.C. Ministry of Environment (2010).

Return to Footnote g referrer

Footnote 8

Six-level scale: Priority 1 (highest priority) through to Priority 6 (lowest priority).

Return to Footnote h referrer

3. Species Information

3.1 Species Description

Oldgrowth specklebelly is a large, blue-gray foliose (leafy) lichen 5–12 cm across with lobes 1.5–3 cm wide. The vegetative body of the lichen including the lobes comprises the thallus. The upper surface is pale greenish-blue, turning creamy brown in the herbarium. The lobes may be slightly dimpled and the margins have small lobules (small outgrowths) and occasionally coral-like isidia (asexual reproductive structures). The lower surface is dull, white to pale brown, with small hairs and numerous white breathing pores. Oldgrowth specklebelly exists as a symbiotic relationship between a fungi and two algal components, the latter being a cyanobacterium (Nostoc sp.) and a green algae (COSEWIC 2010). The green algae grows in a continuous layer within the lichen whereas the cyanobacteria form localized nodes.

3.2 Population and Distribution


Oldgrowth specklebelly is endemic to western North America. It occurs in cool, humid coastal regions from southeast Alaska to northern Oregon. In Alaska it is restricted to within a few km of the ocean, though elsewhere it extends inland to the windward slopes of the Insular Mountains and Cascade Ranges. In British Columbia there are approximately 52 populations occurring within the wet cool subzones of the Coastal Western Hemlock zone (CWH) within the distribution areas of Abies amabilis (amabilis fir) and Xanthocyparis nootkatensis (=Chamaecyparis nootkatensis; yellow-cedar) (Figure 1 and Figure 2) (COSEWIC 2010), which are frequently its host tree and/or closely associated species.

Population Size

There are 56 reported populations of oldgrowth specklebelly within British Columbia. Four of these populations (EO42, EO44, EO46 and Nanaimo Lakes) are considered extirpated, and one population (Hartley Bay (EO6) is considered historical. Therefore, the current total extant number of known populations is 52. Of the 52 current populations, two have been discovered since the 2010 COSEWIC report: Wolf River in Strathcona Park (EO55) on Vancouver Island and near Kitimat at Minette Bay Creek (EO 54). Two previously known populations one east of Kitimat (EO4) and the other at Chilliwack Lake, Provincial Park (EO2) have not been relocated since surveys for the 2010 COSEWIC status report, and their status is unconfirmed.

Most populations of oldgrowth specklebelly consist of 10–30 thalli, with the exception of two populations Caycuse Creek (EO44) and one 0.3 km west of White River (EO31) that have over 500 thalli each on one or two host trees (COSEWIC 2010). Total thalli count for current populations is 2277.

Figure 1. Oldgrowth specklebelly distribution in North America including the range of amabilis fir and yellow-cedar for comparison (COSEWIC 2010).

Oldgrowth specklebelly distribution and range of amabilis fir and yellow-cedar
Map: © Environment Canada
Long description for Figure 1

Figure 1 represents a map of the distribution of Oldgrowth specklebelly, amabilis fir, and yellow-cedar in North America. The Oldgrowth specklebelly is found in the southern end of Alaska within kilometers of the ocean. The map shows 5 locations within this area spread along the coast. In British Columbia, there are 5 locations on Skeena-Queen Charlotte, with 2 locations being in Graham, 1 in Haida Gwaii, and 3 east of Kitimat. A large concentration of locations is represented on the coastal edges of Vancouver Island, with a few being inward on the Insular Mountains. A few locations are also identified in Stafford Valley. In the United States, a large number of locations is identified along the Cascade Range down into Washington and Oregon with a few locations in the middle of the coastal edge of the 2 states. For the amabilis fir, its distribution is represented mostly on the coastal edge of BC and on Vancouver Island, as well as on the Cascade Ranges. The yellow-cedar has a similar distribution as the amabilis fir, in addition to locations identified in Queen Charlotte and in the southern coastal end of Alaska.

Figure 2. Oldgrowth specklebelly distribution in British Columbia (BC CDC 2014).

Oldgrowth specklebelly distribution in British Columbia
Map: © Environment Canada
Long description for Figure 2

Figure 2 represents a map of the distribution of Oldgrowth specklebelly in British Columbia. The map displays extant, unconfirmed, extirpated, and historical occurrences. Most extant populations are found in the center of Vancouver Island. A few more are found on the north and south end of the island, on Mount St. John, on the east coast of Graham Island and Haida Gwaii, and in Kitimat. One historical population is identified in Hartley Bay. There is one unconfirmed population at the mid southern border of BC and one in Kitimat. Finally, there are 3 extirpated populations in north of Vancouver Island and one in south of Vancouver Island.

Table 1. Summary and description of oldgrowth specklebelly populations in B.C. Table Footnote i
Geographic LocationPopulation name (BC CDC occurrence name)Population statusB.C. CDC EO# Table Footnote jCOSEWIC site #Dates observed / Number of thalliLand tenure
Haida GwaiiTow Hill Area, Graham IslandExtantEO511971; size unknownProvincial Park
Haida GwaiiKumdis Bay, Graham IslandExtantEO5222000; size unknownUnknown
Haida GwaiiBischof Islets, Haida GwaiiExtantEO5032003; 15 thalliNational Park
KitimatKitimat, east ofExtantEO441970 – 13 thalli; 2008 – 13 thalliUnknown
KitimatMinette Bay CreekExtantEO54N/A2013; no count madeUnknown
KitimatEuropa CreekExtantEO5152007; 6 thalliCrown land
KitimatHartley BayHistorical Table Footnote kEO650UnknownUnknown
Stafford ValleyMount St. John, west slopeExtantEO7392009; 172 thalliWFP TFL 25
Stafford ValleyStafford Lake, 400 m west ofExtantEO8402009; 10 thalliWFP TFL 25
Stafford ValleyStafford River, .5 km east ofExtantEO9412009; 6 thalliWFP TFL 25
Stafford ValleyStafford River, 1.3 km east ofExtantEO13422009; 32 thalliWFP TFL 25
Stafford ValleyStafford River, 0.5 km west ofExtantEO14432009; 50 thalliWFP TFL 25
Stafford ValleyStafford River, 0.37 km east ofExtantEO12442009; 40 thalliWFP TFL 25
Stafford ValleyStafford River , 1.75 km east ofExtantEO11452009; 59 thalliWFP TFL 25
Stafford ValleyStafford River, 0.5 km east ofExtantEO15N/A2009; 4 thalliWFP TFL 25?
Stafford ValleyStafford River, 0.38 km west ofExtantEO22N/A2009; no countsWFP TFL 25?
Stafford ValleyStafford River, 0.23 km east ofExtantEO23N/A2009; no countsWFP TFL 25?
Chilliwack Lake Provincial ParkChilliwack LakeExtantEO261992 – 3 thalli; 2006 – unknownProvincial Park
HolbergKoprino River, 0.73 km south ofExtantEO4772008; 20 thalliWFP TFL Table Footnote l 6
Port AliceKewquodie Creek, 0.6 km east ofExtantEO4582008; 45 thalliWFP TFL 6
Port AliceCaycuse Creek, 0.1 km west and 1.0 km east ofExtantEO41102008; 515 thalliWFP TFL 6
Port AliceTeeta CreekExtantEO4392005 – 82 thalli; 2006 – 80 thalliWFP TFL 6
Port AlicePort AliceExtantN/A462005; 50 thalliWFP TFL 33
Port AliceCoqueis Creek, 0.95 km north ofExtirpated Table Footnote mEO46492005; 1 thallusWFP TFL 43
Port AliceCaycuse Creek, 1.2 km east ofExtirpatedEO44472006; no thalliWFP TFL 33
Port AliceKlootchlimmis Creek, 0.65 m east ofExtirpatedEO42512005: 150 thalliWFP TFL 33-966
Brooks PeninsulaKingfisher Cr., Brooks PeninsulaExtantEO3111977; unknownProvincial Park
Mt. WaddingtonKarmutzen Creek, Vancouver IslandExtantEO53122010; no countsWFP TFL 37
Gold RiverKleeptee Creek, 3.5 km northwest ofExtantEO18132008; 5 thalliWFP TFL 18
Gold RiverKleeptee Creek, 2 km east ofExtantEO19142008; 30 thalliWFP TFL 19
Gold RiverBull Lake, 0.3 km eastExtantEO21152008; 13 thalliWFP TFL 19
Gold RiverUpana River, 0.7 km south of
Upana Lake, 0.5 km south of
ExtantEO25 partial; EO24162008; 23 thalliWFP TFL 19
Gold RiverUpana River, 0.7 km south ofExtantEO25 partial172008; 12 thalliWFP TFL 19
Gold RiverUcona River, 1.0 km south ofExtantEO20182008; 45 thalliWFP TFL 19
Gold RiverMuchalat River, 5 m west ofExtantEO49192009; no countsWFP TFL 19
Mount CainMount Cain, southwest slopes ofExtantEO1202006; 30 thalliWFP TFL 37
SaywardCompton River, 3.5 km north ofExtantEO36212009; 15 thalliWFP TFL 39
SaywardAdam River/Compton Cr., 3.5 km northwest ofExtantEO35222009; 6 thalliWFP TFL 39
SaywardMiddle Memekay River, 1.4 km south ofExtantEO39232009; 12 thalliWFP TFL 39
SaywardWhite River, 300 m east ofExtantEO3324 and 292009; 40 thalliWhite River Park or WFP TFL 39
SaywardMiddle Memekay River, 50 m north ofExtantEO37252009; 10 thalliWFP TFL 39
SaywardSayward (general)ExtantN/A262009; 30 thalliWFP TFL 39
SaywardMiddle Memekay River, 1.4 km south of
Memekay River, 1.3 km southeast of
Extantpossibly EO39, part of EO40272009; 12 thalliWFP TFL 39
SaywardMiddle Memekay River, 0.75 km north of
Memekay River, 1.3 km southeast of
ExtantEO38, possibly part of EO40282009; 50 thalliWFP TFL 39
SaywardWhite River, 0.3 km west ofExtantEO31302009; 524 thalliWFP TFL 39
SaywardWhite River, 1.5 km east ofExtantEO30312009; 27 thalliWFP TFL 39
SaywardWhite River, 0.8 km east ofExtantEO29322009; 16 thalliWFP TFL 39
SaywardWhite River, Moakwa Creek, 3 km west southwest ofExtantEO32N/A2008; no countsWFP TFL 44?
SaywardWhite River, 30 m west of, White River Prov. ParkExtantEO34N/A2009: 12 thalliWFP TFL 39
Gold RiverTwaddle Lake, north ofExtantEO26332007; 10 thalliWFP TFL 19
Gold RiverTwaddle Lake, north ofExtantEO26342008; 41 thalliWFP TFL 19
Gold RiverElbow Creek, 0.5 km west ofExtantEO27352007; 10 thalliWFP TFL 19
Wolf RiverWolf Creek, Strathcona ParkExtantEO55N/A2014Provincial Park
ClayoquotClayoquot RiverExtantN/A361996; no countsUnknown
Port AlberniLittle Nitinat River, 30 m southwest ofExtantEO16372009; 20 thalliWFP TFL 44
Port AlberniNitinat River, 2.5 km east ofExtantEO17382009; 105 thalliWFP TFL 44
Port AlberniNanaimo Lakes (Fourth lake)ExtirpatedN/A481950; no countsWFP TFL 33

Table Footnote

Footnote 9

The B.C. Conservation Data Centre has information on 52 element occurrences (EOs), seven of which (EOs 15, 22, 23, 32, 34, 54 and 55) do not match up with the data from the COSEWIC status report population localities (51 in total). Also, four populations from the 2010 status report (COSEWIC populations 26, 36, 46, and 48) do not have enough locational information to match up to an element occurrence record in the B.C. Conservation Data Centre database.

Return to Footnote i referrer

Footnote 10

Element occurrence: the area of land and/or water in which a species or natural community is, or was present, and represents the fundamental unit of information in the NatureServe methodology (NatureServe 2015). Note: For this species there are no EOs assigned for the numbers 10, 28, or 48.

Return to Footnote j referrer

Footnote 11

Historical: Presence has not been verified in the past 20-40 years; effort has been made to relocate occurrences (NatureServe 2015).

Return to Footnote k referrer

Footnote 12

Western Forest Products Tree Farm licence.

Return to Footnote l referrer

Footnote 13

Extirpated: Species is believed to be extirpated from the province. Not located despite intensive searches of historical sites and other appropriate habitat, and virtually no likelihood that it will be rediscovered (NatureServe 2015).

Return to Footnote m referrer

3.3 Habitat and Biological Needs of Oldgrowth Specklebelly

Oldgrowth specklebelly occurs in the Coastal Western Hemlock (CWH) BEC zone. It lives on tree branches and trunks of conifers in old-growth forests, particularly in nutrient-rich localities and microsites. Often it occurs in the dripzones of old yellow-cedar trees, at the base of hillsides, and in seaside coves sheltered from strong winds. Other tree species it colonizes are: amabilis fir, subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa var. lasiocarpa), Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis), Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), western red-cedar (Thuja plicata) and western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla), mountain hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana) and western yew (Taxus brevifolia) (COSEWIC 2010). Oldgrowth specklebelly requires open, humid, forest ecosystems; however, both full sunlight exposure and deep shade are harmful to the species.

Oldgrowth specklebelly is nutrient-demanding and establishes exclusively on the bark of conifers with a pH greater than about 5.0. The primary host tree over most of its range is amabilis fir. Yellow-cedar (Xanthocyparis nootkatensis = Chameacyparis nootkatensis) enhances the nutrient status of trees growing within its dripzone and thus promotes the establishment of oldgrowth specklebelly in habitats where it would otherwise be unlikely to occur (COSEWIC 2010). Yellow-cedar itself rarely acts as a host tree.

Oldgrowth specklebelly exists as a symbiotic relationship between a fungus and two algal components (green algae and cyanobacteria). The fungal component protects the algal component by enveloping it with tissue layers, and provides a steady supply of moisture by conducting water within its cell walls. In turn, the algal or cyanobacteria, through the process of photosynthesis produces sugar and carbohydrates that are used by itself and the fungal partner as an energy source (Brodo et al., 2001).

3.4 Ecological Role

Oldgrowth specklebelly may contribute marginally to the nitrogen cycle due to the nitrogen-fixing blue-green algae found on the lobules (COSEWIC 2010).

3.5 Limiting Factors

Oldgrowth specklebelly occurs in Canada only in coastal temperate rainforests with trees greater than 200–300 years old and therefore is dependent on old-growth forests (COSEWIC 2010).

Another limitation for oldgrowth specklebelly is its growth form; lichens represent a symbiotic relationship between fungus and algal or cyanobacterial components. It is likely to establish only on trees with a bark pH of greater than 5.0 to facilitate production of nitrogen in an accessible form (COSEWIC 2010). Nutrient enrichment is a rather localized phenomenon within the winter-wet rainforests colonized by Oldgrowth Specklebelly, owing to the tendency of heavy rains to remove nutrients from the system. Only in a small number of nutrient-retentive hotspots do nutrients routinely accumulate to levels likely to promote the establishment of tree-dwelling cyanolichens. Such hotspots tend to arise in one or both of two ways, that is, either from the interception of marine aerosols, or from the uptake of nutrients from nutrient-rich soil or bedrock. Both mechanisms operate according to the dripzone phenomenon (Goward and Arsenault 2000).

Dispersal of lobules and isidia (outgrowth of thallus containing algal components) is only within short distances, which may be a limiting factor for distribution (COSEWIC 2010; Sillett and Goward, 1998). Reproduction occurs exclusively through the formation and dispersal of lobules or sometimes isidia. These asexual structures must land on and then affix to a branch segment or trunk that is in a location which provides the optimal combination of light, exposure to wetting, ecological stability and (in the case of conifers) nutrient enrichment. The first three requirements are easily met in most oldgrowth forests, but the fourth – nutrient enrichment – is limiting for this species and must further account for its highly discontinuous distribution. Possibly the relative rarity of oldgrowth specklebelly in the northern portions of its range – including Haida Gwaii –is related at least in part to the absence here of its primary host tree, amabilis fir, as well as to the comparatively recent arrival of its primary facilitator, yellow-cedar (COSEWIC 2010).

4. Threats

Threats are defined as the proximate activities or processes that have caused, are causing, or may cause in the future the destruction, degradation, and/or impairment of the entity being assessed (population, species, community, or ecosystem) in the area of interest (global, national, or subnational) (Salafsky et al. 2008). For purposes of threat assessment, only present and future threats are considered. Content Footnote 2 Threats do not include limiting factors, which are presented in Section 3.5. Content Footnote 3

4.1 Threat Assessment

The threat classification below is based on the IUCN-CMP (World Conservation Union–Conservation Measures Partnership) unified threats classification system and is consistent with methods used by the B.C. Conservation Data Centre. For a detailed description of the threat classification system, see the Open Standards website (Open Standards 2014). Threats may be observed, inferred, or projected to occur in the near term. Threats are characterized here in terms of scope, severity, and timing. Threat "impact" is calculated from scope and severity. For information on how the values are assigned, see Master et al. (2012) and table footnotes for details. Threats for the oldgrowth specklebelly were assessed for the entire province (Table 2).

Table 2. Threat classification table for oldgrowth specklebelly in British Columbia
Threat #Threat descriptionImpact Table Footnote nScope Table Footnote oSeverity Table Footnote pTiming Table Footnote qPopulation(s)
3Energy production & miningNegligibleNegligibleExtremeHigh-moderate-
3.2Mining & quarryingNegligibleNegligibleExtremeHigh-moderateOne population Europa Creek (EO 51)
3.3Renewable energyNegligibleNegligibleExtremeHigh-moderateOne population Europa Creek (EO 51)
4Transportation & service corridorsLowSmallExtremeHigh-
4.1Roads & railroadsLowSmallExtremeHighAll except 4–5 sites located in parks
4.2Utility & service linesNegligibleNegligibleExtremeHighOne population Europa Creek (EO 51)
5Biological resource useMediumRestrictedExtremeHigh-
5.3Logging & wood harvestingMediumRestrictedExtremeHighAll except 4–5 sites located in parks
10Geological eventsLowSmallExtremeModerate-
10.2Earthquakes/tsunamisLowSmallExtremeModerateCoastal sites on Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii
10.3Avalanches/landslidesNegligibleNegligibleExtremeHighCoastal sites on Vancouver Island
11Climate change & severe weatherLowSmallSerious-slightHigh-
11.4Storms & floodingLowSmallSerious-slightHighCoastal sites on Vancouver Island

Table Footnote

Footnote 14

Impact – The degree to which a species is observed, inferred, or suspected to be directly or indirectly threatened in the area of interest. The impact of each threat is based on severity and scope rating and considers only present and future threats. Threat impact reflects a reduction of a species population or decline/degradation of the area of an ecosystem. The median rate of population reduction or area decline for each combination of scope and severity corresponds to the following classes of threat impact: Very High (75% declines), High (40%), Medium (15%), and Low (3%). Unknown: used when impact cannot be determined (e.g., if values for either scope or severity are unknown); Not Calculated: impact not calculated as threat is outside the assessment time (e.g., timing is insignificant/negligible (past threat) or low (possible threat in long term); Negligible: when scope or severity is negligible; Not a Threat: when severity is scored as neutral or potential benefit.

Return to Footnote n referrer

Footnote 15

Scope – Proportion of the species that can reasonably be expected to be affected by the threat within 10 years. Usually measured as a proportion of the species' population in the area of interest. (Pervasive = 71–100%; Large = 31–70%; Restricted = 11–30%; Small = 1–10%; Negligible < 1%).

Return to Footnote o referrer

Footnote 16

Severity – Within the scope, the level of damage to the species from the threat that can reasonably be expected to be affected by the threat within a 10-year or 3-generation timeframe. For this species a generation time of 30 years [T. Goward. pers. comm., 2014] was used resulting in severity being scored over a 100-year timeframe. Usually measured as the degree of reduction of the species' population. (Extreme = 71–100%; Serious = 31–70%; Moderate = 11–30%; Slight = 1–10%; Negligible < 1%; Neutral or Potential Benefit > 0%).

Return to Footnote p referrer

Footnote 17

Timing – High = continuing; Moderate = only in the future (could happen in the short term [< 10 years or 3 generations]) or now suspended (could come back in the short term); Low = only in the future (could happen in the long term) or now suspended (could come back in the long term); Insignificant/Negligible = only in the past and unlikely to return, or no direct effect but limiting.

Return to Footnote q referrer

4.2 Description of Threats

The overall province-wide Threat Impact for this species is High. Content Footnote 4 This overall threat considers the cumulative impacts of multiple threats. The greatest threat is from logging and wood harvesting (Table 2). Details are discussed below under the Threat Level 1 headings.

IUCN-CMP Threat 3. Energy Production & Mining
3.2 Mining & Quarrying

Aggregate mining may occur at one locality near Kitimat at Europa Creek (EO51) (COSEWIC 2010). As well, if any mining did occur, the area would likely be logged first, host trees for oldgrowth specklebelly would be removed, and fragmentation of habitat increased.

3.3 Renewable Energy

Numerous independent power projects (IPPs) have been applied for across the province, which could potentially affect oldgrowth specklebelly in several ways. One is the removal of waterfall mist, which is known to provide essential habitat for rare lichens through a combination of nutrient enhancement, thermal moderation, and ongoing moisture supply (Bjork et al. 2009). As well, building of the IPPs would involve removal of trees, which could include host trees for oldgrowth specklebelly. Currently one locality at Europa Creek (EO51) has a hydroelectric development (COSEWIC 2010). Because IPPs generally occur in valley bottoms, tree removal associated with road building has a potential to curtail dispersal by this species. The resulting increased fragmentation could decrease the ability of the species to disperse into adjacent forests due to increased edge effect (T. Goward, pers. comm., 2014). As well, the increase in edge effect would raise the light levels and decrease humidity, thereby decreasing the amount of suitable habitat.

IUCN-CMP Threat 4. Transportation & Service Corridors
4.1 Roads & Railroads

Roads that are developed for logging will affect oldgrowth specklebelly, in particular since both the species and mainline logging roads generally occur in valley bottoms. On the north part of Vancouver Island, recent logging roads in this area of high incidence of the species could have removed thousands of individual lichens. Fragmentation of the habitat by logging roads decreases the ability of the species to disperse into adjacent forests, and also decreases the amount of suitable habitat available for the species to colonize (T. Goward, pers. comm., 2014).

4.2 Utility & Service Lines

As every IPP will have a utility corridor associated with it, the establishment of such a corridor could potentially remove habitat of oldgrowth specklebelly and would increase the edge effects as described above when it occurs in that same area.

IUCN-CMP Threat 5. Biological Resource Use
5.3 Logging & Wood Harvesting

Although some proportion of the locations are in old growth management areas (six populations), in wildlife tree retention areas Content Footnote 5 (WTRAs) (six populations), and riparian reserve zones (six populations), these areas have no legislated protection Content Footnote 6 at this time under the Forest and Range Practices Act. As such, of the 52 extant populations, all but 4–5 are on public lands and subject to logging. Most populations are localities on northern Vancouver Island under an active tree farm license. Logging and wood harvesting will remove host trees as well as habitat-creating trees (e.g., yellow cedar) and therefore reduce suitable habitat for oldgrowth specklebelly. These populations should be monitored from time to time to assess rates of decline from future logging operations (T. Goward, pers. comm., 2014).

IUCN-CMP Threat 10. Geological Events
10.2 Earthquakes/tsunamis

Low elevation populations along the coast are vulnerable to habitat loss or salt water immersion if a tsunami occurs (e.g., related to predicted strong seismic activity off southern Vancouver Island (Province of B.C. n.d.). The Haida Gwaii populations on Graham Island (Tow Hill area - EO5 and Kumdis Bay - EO52) would likely be extirpated by such an event.

10.3 Avalanches/landslides

On mainland localities landslides could be caused by torrential rain events as well as by slope destabilization in connection with logging road construction. The coastal locations are already exposed to drenching winter storms and with climate change these events are expected to increase in frequency and severity (Gayton 2008). Avalanches or landslides would remove the habitat for the host trees and therefore would be no habitat for oldgrowth specklebelly growth and reproduction.

IUCN-CMP Threat 11. Climate Change & Severe Weather
11.4 Storms & Flooding

Loss of host trees during storms and flooding has a potential to negatively impact oldgrowth specklebelly. As well, field observations suggest that oldgrowth specklebelly is sensitive to continuous exposure to rainwater during prolonged winter storms. Increasing severity of winter storms along the coast has a potential to result in its loss from some locations (T. Goward, pers. comm., 2014).

5. Management Goal and Objectives

5.1 Management Goal

To maintain all known extant populations and any future populations of oldgrowth specklebelly that may be found in British Columbia.

5.2 Rationale for the Management Goal

The overall goal is to maintain all known extant populations of the species within British Columbia. This includes the current extant populations as well as any populations that are found in the future. No quantitative management goal is possible for oldgrowth specklebelly as basic population demographics and trends are unknown for all populations. As with many other rare plant species, we lack adequate information about the historical distribution of oldgrowth specklebelly, however, it was likely never more widespread. Given this species' dependence on fragmentation for dispersal (i.e., it's a very slow disperser), and given that it grows more or less exclusively in oldgrowth forests not prone to large-scale disturbance, it has likely been expanding its range gradually over the past 10,000 years since deglaciation( T. Goward, pers. comm. 2015).

This lichen is endemic to western North America. All 56 reported populations in Canada occur in British Columbia in a limited area along coastal areas of the southern portion of the province. Habitat loss is likely to result from logging and wood harvesting, and the low dispersal ability of this lichen contributes to its rarity. As well, habitats containing nutrient hotspots, such as dripzones that occur under old yellow cedar in sheltered seaside forests are limited (COSEWIC 2010).

Conservation of this species should focus on improving the probability that it will persist in the wild. However, to prevent oldgrowth specklebelly from becoming threatened or endangered, all known extant populations should be maintained. Once the knowledge gaps have been fulfilled, the goal can be refined.

5.3 Management Objectives

The following management objectives will guide work in the near term:

  1. to secure long-term protection Content Footnote 1 for the known populations and habitats of oldgrowth specklebelly;
  2. to determine the levels of real and potential threats to this species and its habitat and to mitigate their effects; and
  3. to confirm the distribution of oldgrowth specklebelly (including any new populations) and to reliably determine population trends through monitoring.

6. Approaches to Meet Objectives

6.1 Actions Already Completed or Underway

The following actions have been categorized by the action groups of the B.C. Conservation Framework (B.C. Ministry of Environment 2010). Status of the action group for this species is given in parentheses.

Compile Status Report (complete)
  • COSEWIC report completed (COSEWIC 2010). Update due 2020.
Send to COSEWIC (complete)
  • Oldgrowth specklebelly assessed Special Concern (COSEWIC 2010). Re-assessment due 2020.
Planning (complete)
  • B.C. Management Plan completed (this document, 2015).
Habitat Protection and Private Land Stewardship (in Progress)
  • Three or four localities are within provincial parks and have some protection under the provisions of the B.C. Park Act.
  • One locality is within a national park and is afforded habitat protection under the National Parks Act.
  • Eighteen localities on northern Vancouver Island have partial protection within: (1) wildlife tree retention areas (six localities); (2) old-growth management areas (six localities); and (3) riparian reserve zones (six localities).

6.2 Recommended Management Actions

Table 3. Recommended management actions and suggested implementation schedule for oldgrowth specklebelly.
Recovery objectiveActions to meet objectivesThreat Table Footnote r or concern addressedPriority Table Footnote s

Determine land tenure

Establish appropriate protection mechanisms depending on type of ownership

1, 2

Encourage landowners and land managers to steward and manage lands for the persistence of the species.

Inform landowners and land managers on the location of this species on their lands.

Develop best management practices for mitigating threats.

Determine appropriate measures to protect habitat at an ecosystem-level approach. When the species is recorded on Crown lands, initiate protection measures under existing legislation and government policy.

4,1; 5.3Essential
1, 2Monitor locations to assess the status of populations and the effects of any management activities taken to protect habitat.4,1; 5.3Necessary
2Assess and monitor the threats to determine if they are potential or real.4.1; 5.3; 10.3; 11.4Necessary
3Survey potentially suitable locations and extant populations in B.C.InventoryNecessary

Develop and implement a monitoring protocol that provides reliable estimates of population size (including thallus size) and detects threats at each known location.

Monitor status of population and threats at extant locations every 5 years.

4.1; 5.3; 10.3; 11.4Necessary
3Report monitoring results and implement threat mitigation if necessary.4.1; 5.3; 10.3; 11.4Beneficial

Table Footnote

Footnote 18

Threat numbers according to the IUCN-CMP classification (see Table 2 for details).

Return to Footnote r referrer

Footnote 19

Essential (urgent and important, needs to start immediately); Necessary (important but not urgent, action can start in 2–5 years); or Beneficial (action is beneficial and could start at any time that was feasible).

Return to Footnote s referrer

7. Measuring Progress

The performance indicators presented below provide a way to define and measure progress toward achieving the management goal and objectives. Performance measures are listed below for each objective with the target of achieving each stated measureable within the next five years.

Measurable(s) for Objective 1

  • Mechanisms have been initiated to protect the habitat of locations.
  • At least five locations have stewardship agreements or management plans in place for the protection of the species.

Measurable(s) for Objective 2

  • The main threats have been assessed and a plan developed to implement the mitigation of threats.

Measurable(s) for Objective 3

  • Extant locations have been inventoried and monitored for population size and trend.

8. Effects on Other Species

Conservation planning and management for this species is not anticipated to effect other species, either positively or negatively, in the near term. Potentially co-occurring species at risk include the provincially red-listed Northern Goshawk laingi subspecies (Accipiter gentilis laingi), blue-listed Marbled Murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus) and red-listed Dromedary Jumping Slug (Hemphillia dromedarius). Conservation and management activities for oldgrowth specklebelly will be implemented with consideration for all co-occurring species at risk, such that there are no negative impacts to co-occurring species at risk for their habitats.

9. References

B.C. Conservation Data Centre. 2015. BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer. B.C. Min. Environ., Victoria, BC. [Accessed July 7, 2014]

B.C. Ministry of Environment. 2010. Conservation framework. B.C. Min. Environ., Victoria, BC. [Accessed July 7, 2014]

Brodo, I.M.,. S.D. Sharnoff, S. Sharnoff. 2001. Lichens of North America. Yale University Press, New Haven and London.

Bjork, C.R., T. Goward, and T. Spribille. 2009. New records and range extensions of rare lichens from waterfalls and sprayzones in inland British Columbia, Canada. Evansia 26(4):219–224.

Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). 2010. COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Oldgrowth Specklebelly Pseudocyphyellaria rainierensis in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, Ottawa, ON. vii +38 pp.; [Accessed July 7, 2014]

Gayton, D. 2008. Impacts of climate change on British Columbia's biodiversity (PDF; 878 KB) - a literature review. FORREX publications, Kamloops, BC. [Accessed Oct. 22, 2014]

Goward, T. and A. Arsenault. 2000. Cyanolichen distribution in young unmanaged forests: a dripzone effect? The Bryologist 103:28-37.

Master, L.L., D. Faber-Langendoen, R. Bittman, G.A. Hammerson, B. Heidel, L. Ramsay, K. Snow, A. Teucher, and A. Tomaino. 2012. NatureServe conservation status assessments: factors for evaluating species and ecosystems at risk (PDF; 2.1 MB). NatureServe, Arlington, VA. [Accessed July 10, 2014]

NatureServe. 2015. NatureServe explorer: an online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, VA. ; [Accessed March 19, 2015]

Open Standards. 2014. Threats taxonomy. ; [Accessed July 10, 2014]

Province of B.C. n.d. Emergency management B.C. Tsunami-safe.; [Accessed October 20, 2014]

Province of British Columbia. 1982. Wildlife Act [RSBC 1996] c. 488 . Queen's Printer, Victoria, BC.; [Accessed July 7, 2014]

Province of British Columbia. 2002. Forest and Range Practices Act [RSBC 2002] c. 69. Queen's Printer, Victoria, BC. ; [Accessed July 7, 2014]

Province of British Columbia. 2008. Oil and Gas Activities Act [SBC 2008] c. 36. Queen's Printer, Victoria, BC. ; [Accessed July 7, 2014]

Salafsky, N., D. Salzer, A.J. Stattersfield, C. Hilton-Taylor, R. Neugarten, S.H.M. Butchart, B. Collen, N. Cox, L.L. Master, S. O'Connor, and D. Wilkie. 2008. A standard lexicon for biodiversity conservation: unified classifications of threats and actions. Conserv. Biol. 22:897–911.

Sillett, S.C. 1995. Branch epiphyte assemblages in the forest interior and on the clearcut edge of a 700-year-old Douglas-fir canopy in Oregon. Bryologist 98(3):301–312. In Bureau of Land Management. ND. Management recommendations for Pseudocyphellaria rainierensis Imshaug (PDF; 221 KB). Version 2.0. PDF file [Accessed July 7, 2014]

Sillett, S.C. and T. Goward. 1998. Ecology and conservation of Pseudocyphellaria rainierensis, a Pacific Northwest Endemic Lichen. Pages 377-378 in M.G. Glenn, R.C. Harris, R. Dirig and M.S. Cole (eds.) Lichenographia Thomsoniana: North American Lichenology in Honour of John W. Thomson. Mycotaxon, Ltd., Ithaca, New York.

Personal Communications

Trevor Goward, Enlichened Consulting Ltd., Clearwater, BC.

Content Footnote

Footnote 1

Protection can be achieved through various mechanisms including: voluntary stewardship agreements, conservation covenants, sale by willing vendors on private lands, land use designations, and protected areas.

Return to Footnote 1 referrer

Footnote 2

Past threats may be recorded but are not used in the calculation of Threat Impact. Effects of past threats (if not continuing) are taken into consideration when determining long- and/or short-term trend factors (Master et al. 2012).

Return to Footnote 2 referrer

Footnote 3

It is important to distinguish between limiting factors and threats. Limiting factors are generally not human induced and include characteristics that make the species or ecosystem less likely to respond to recovery/conservation efforts (e.g., inbreeding depression, small population size, and genetic isolation).

Return to Footnote 3 referrer

Footnote 4

The overall threat impact was calculated following Master et al. (2012) using the number of Level 1 Threats assigned to this species where Timing = High or Moderate. This includes 1 Medium, 3 Low (Table 2). The overall threat considers the cumulative impacts of multiple threats.

Return to Footnote 4 referrer

Footnote 5

Note that WTRAs can be patches or single trees/clumps of trees.

Return to Footnote 5 referrer

Footnote 6

These OGMAs are "non-legal" as they have not been declared in an old-growth order under FRPA.

Return to Footnote 6 referrer

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