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Tiny Cryptanthe

Recovery Strategy for the Tiny Cryptanthe

(Cryptantha minima)

in Canada [PROPOSED]

 Tiny Cryptanthe

July 2006

About the Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series

What is the Species at Risk Act (SARA)? 

SARA is the Act developed by the federal government as a key contribution to the common national effort to protect and conserve species at risk in Canada. SARA came into force in 2003, and one of its purposes is “to provide for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated, endangered or threatened as a result of human activity.” 

What is recovery?

In the context of species at risk conservation, recovery is the process by which the decline of an endangered, threatened, or extirpated species is arrested or reversed and threats are removed or reduced to improve the likelihood of the species’ persistence in the wild. A species will be considered recovered when its long-term persistence in the wild has been secured.

What is a recovery strategy?

A recovery strategy is a planning document that identifies what needs to be done to arrest or reverse the decline of a species. It sets goals and objectives and identifies the main areas of activities to be undertaken. Detailed planning is done at the action plan stage.

Recovery strategy development is a commitment of all provinces and territories and of three federal agencies -- Environment Canada, Parks Canada Agency, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada -- under the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk. Sections 37–46 of SARA (http://www.registrelep-sararegistry.gc.ca/approach/act/default_e.cfm ) outline both the required content and the process for developing recovery strategies published in this series.

Depending on the status of the species and when it was assessed, a recovery strategy has to be developed within one to two years after the species is added to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Three to four years is allowed for those species that were automatically listed when SARA came into force.

What’s next?

In most cases, one or more action plans will be developed to define and guide implementation of the recovery strategy. Nevertheless, directions set in the recovery strategy are sufficient to begin involving communities, land users, and conservationists in recovery implementation. Cost-effective measures to prevent the reduction or loss of the species should not be postponed for lack of full scientific certainty.

The series

This series presents the recovery strategies prepared or adopted by the federal government under SARA. New documents will be added regularly as species get listed and as strategies are updated.

To learn more 

To learn more about the Species at Risk Act and recovery initiatives, please consult the SARA Public Registry (http://www.sararegistry.gc.ca/ ) and the Web site of the Recovery Secretariat (http://www.sararegistry.gc.ca/sar/recovery/default_e.cfm ).

Recommended citation:

Environment Canada. 2006. Recovery Strategy for the Tiny Cryptanthe (Cryptantha minima) in Canada [Proposed]. Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series. Environment Canada, Ottawa. vi + 24 pp.

 Additional copies:  

Additional copies can be downloaded from the SARA Public Registry (http://www.sararegistry.gc.ca/). 

Cover illustration :Tiny Cryptanthe by John R. Maywood ©

Également disponible en français sous le titre

« Programme de rétablissement de la cryptanthe minuscule (Cryptantha minima) au Canada [Proposition] »

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of the Environment, 2006. All rights reserved.

ISBN  To come

Cat. no.To come

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



Environment Canada has developed its recovery strategy for tiny cryptanthe, as required by the Species at Risk Act. This proposed recovery strategy has been prepared in cooperation with jurisdictions responsible for the species, as described in the Preface.

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. In the spirit of the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk, the Minister of the Environment invites all Canadians to join Environment Canada in supporting and implementing this strategy for the benefit of tiny cryptanthe and Canadian society as a whole. Environment Canada will endeavour to support implementation of this strategy, given available resources and varying species at risk conservation priorities. The Minister will report on progress within five years.

This strategy will be complemented by one or more action plans that will provide details on specific recovery measures to be taken to support conservation of the species. The Minister will take steps to ensure that, to the extent possible, Canadians directly affected by these measures will be consulted.

Responsible Jurisdictions

Environment Canada (Prairie and Northern Region)

Government of Alberta

Government of Saskatchewan


This strategy was prepared by Candace Elchuk (Canadian Wildlife Service – Prairie and Northern Region) and Dean Nernberg (Canadian Wildlife Service – National Capital Region).


The recovery strategy was prepared by Candace Elchuk and Dean Nernberg on behalf of the Recovery Team for Plants at Risk in the Prairie Provinces. The Recovery Team provided valuable comments on the drafts of this document. Recovery Team members, as of January 2006, included Candace Elchuk (Secretary and Acting Chair; Environment Canada), Jason Greenall (Manitoba Conservation), Robin Gutsell (Alberta Sustainable Resource Development), Lisa Matthias (Alberta Sustainable Resource Development; temporarily acting for Robin Gutsell), Sue McAdam (Saskatchewan Environment), Chris Nykoluk (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration), and Peggy Strankman (Canadian Cattlemen’s Association). Recovery Team participants, as of January 2006, included Cheryl Ann Beckles (Department of National Defence, 17-Wing Detachment Dundurn), Delaney Boyd (Department of National Defence, Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Suffield), Joel Nicholson (Alberta Sustainable Resource Development), and Sherry Lynn Punak (Department of National Defence, CFB Shilo). Dean Nernberg (Environment Canada) was the Recovery Team chair until August 2005. Helpful comments were also provided by Dave Duncan, Renee Franken, Ray Poulin, and staff from Canadian Wildlife Service, Habitat Conservation Section and Canadian Wildlife Service, Recovery Section. We thank Cheryl Bradley, who provided her expertise as well as updated information on the species. The Saskatchewan Conservation Data Centre and the Alberta Natural Heritage Information Centre provided updated element occurrences for this species. We would also like to thank all the landowners, lessees, and land managers who allowed us access to their land to do tiny cryptanthe surveys. The cover illustration was graciously provided by the artist, John Maywood.

Strategic Environmental Assessment

In accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals, a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is conducted on all SARA recovery planning documents. 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.

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 on non-target species or habitats. The results of the SEA are incorporated directly into the strategy itself, but are also summarized below.

This recovery strategy will clearly benefit the environment by promoting the recovery of tiny cryptanthe. The potential for the strategy to inadvertently lead to adverse effects on other species was considered. The SEA concluded that this strategy will clearly benefit the environment and will not entail any significant adverse effects. Refer to the following sections of the document in particular: 1.3 Needs of Tiny Cryptanthe; 1.5 Threats to the Survival of Tiny Cryptanthe and its Habitat; 2.3 Recovery Objectives; 2.4 Research and Management Activities Recommended to Meet Objectives; 2.6 Critical Habitat; and 2.7 Effects on Non-target Species.


SARA defines residence as: a dwelling-place, such as a den, nest or other similar area or place, that is occupied or habitually occupied by one or more individuals during all or part of their life cycles, including breeding, rearing, staging, wintering, feeding or hibernating [Subsection 2(1)].

Residence descriptions, or the rationale for why the residence concept does not apply to a given species, are posted on the SARA public registry: http://www.registrelep-sararegistry.gc.ca/sar/recovery/residence_e.cfm .


The Species at Risk Act (SARA, Section 37) requires the competent minister to prepare recovery strategies for listed Extirpated, Endangered, or Threatened species. Tiny cryptanthe was listed as endangered under SARA in June 2003. The Canadian Wildlife Service – Prairie and Northern Region, Environment Canada, led the development of this recovery strategy. All responsible jurisdictions (Saskatchewan and Alberta) reviewed and approved the strategy. The proposed strategy meets SARA requirements in terms of content and process (Sections 39–41). It was developed in cooperation or consultation with:

·         provincial jurisdictions in which the species occurs -- Saskatchewan and Alberta;

·         industry stakeholders -- Canadian Cattlemen’s Association; and

·         federal land managers -- Department of National Defence (CFB Suffield, 17-Wing Detachment Dundurn), Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration). 

This will be the first recovery strategy for tiny cryptanthe posted on the SARA Public Registry.

Executive Summary

  • Tiny cryptanthe is a small, bristly-haired annual plant that has minuscule white flowers with yellow centres. It is associated with river valleys and grows on sandy, rolling upland, valley slopes, or terraces in xeric to subxeric environments. In Canada, tiny cryptanthe has been found in 28 areas in Alberta and four in Saskatchewan.
  • Currently identified threats to tiny cryptanthe include habitat loss and degradation as a result of cultivation, residential development, oil and gas activities, and sand/gravel extraction. Additional threats are modifications to natural processes through altered hydrological regimes and lack of grazing and/or fire, invasion by exotic species, and climate change.
  • The overall recovery goal for tiny cryptanthe is to maintain the persistence of all naturally occurring populations in Canada. The population and distribution objective is to ensure the maintenance or the natural increase of existing populations while maintaining habitat to support their distribution.
  • Four objectives have been identified for the recovery of tiny cryptanthe:

1)      Increase knowledge of the species’ distribution and population size by 2009 to the point where critical habitat can be identified and natural population fluctuations are understood (Priority – Urgent).

2)      Manage habitat on an ongoing basis, using a landscape approach, to support the distribution of the Canadian population and maintain a minimum of 50% of the largest recorded abundance for each population in at least one in 10 years under the natural range of environmental conditions (Priority – Urgent).

3)      Increase knowledge of the biology of tiny cryptanthe by 2011 to the point where population demographics, reproductive ecology, and genetic variability are understood (Priority – Necessary).

4)      On an ongoing basis, increase landowner, land manager, stakeholder, and industry (e.g., oil and gas) awareness of tiny cryptanthe and its needs so that by 2011, stewardship activities and beneficial management practices are being implemented (Priority – Beneficial).

  • Research and management activities needed to achieve these objectives include establishing standardized monitoring and surveying guidelines, continuing to monitor and survey for tiny cryptanthe, evaluating effects of threats, developing beneficial management practices to reduce threats and promoting them to land managers, developing and initiating stewardship agreements with land managers to protect habitat, completing population viability analyses, and initiating additional research to increase knowledge of the biology of this species.
  • Owing to a lack of knowledge on the species’ abundance, distribution, and habitat requirements/associations, critical habitat is not identified in this recovery strategy.

Critical habitat for tiny cryptanthe will be identified in one or more upcoming action plans.

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