Wild Species 2015: plant kingdom

Plant Kingdom

Bryophytes

Photo of a moss
Photo: Bartramia halleriana © René Belland

Bryophytes refer to the phyla Marchantiophyta (liverworts), Bryophyta (mosses) and Anthocerotophyta (hornworts). They are simple plants that typically grow low to the ground in moist environments. Lacking true roots and vessels, they absorb water and nutrients directly across their surface. This limits their size, as without woody tissue they don’t have the rigidity to grow tall. When dry, growth and metabolism stop until moisture revives them. They can reproduce asexually when water is scarce, or sexually by producing spores that are usually wind dispersed. Only a small fraction of spores land in conditions suitable for growth. Some species counter this by producing many millions of spores, while a few, such as the dung mosses, attract flies to deliver spores directly to their favoured growth medium: excrement. Bryophytes are ecologically significant, particularly in boreal and western coastal forest, alpine areas, and tundra. They colonize bare rock and affect water runoff, nutrient cycling, soil formation, and ground temperature. Sphagnum mosses are harvested on an industrial scale in several parts of Canada and used as soil amendments, chemical absorbent, wrapping material for plants, and component of menstrual pads. Canadian bryophyte distribution is understood at a general but not at a detailed scale, and mosses are better studied than either hornworts or liverworts. Threats to bryophytes include habitat loss and climate change.

There are 1375 known species of bryophytes in Canada (Figure 6). Many species are apparently secure or secure (47%). There are two species that are presumed extirpated, one species that is possibly extirpated, 75 species that are critically imperiled, and 85 species that are imperiled. Of these 163 species, 84 have only a small part of their range in Canada (10% or less) and 64 are intermediary (from 11% to 74%). However, 15 species have 75% or more of their range in Canada. Among those, eight species are thought to be endemic to Canada: Anastrophyllum tenue, Calliergon orbicularicordatum, Frullania hattoriana, Neomacounia nitida, Scapania diplophylloides, Seligeria careyana, Sphagnum venustum, Trematodon montanus. In total, 27 species have a high priority score (between 1 and 5). We also identified nine species that are exotic at the national level. We do not have enough knowledge on 398 species to give them a rank other than NU or NNR. No species of bryophytes are considered migratory.

The mosses were assessed in the Wild Species 2010 report. Since then, 305 species had a change in their status at the national level. A total of 49 species had an increased level of risk, 25 species had a reduced level of risk, and 158 species were changed from or to ranks U, NR, NA. Also, 52 species have been added to the list and 21 have been deleted from the list. Most of the changes (72%) are due to a procedural change.

Figure 6. General status of bryophytes in Canada in 2015.
Bar graph (see long description below)
Long description for figure 6

Figure 6 shows the general status of bryophytes in Canada in 2015. The bar graph shows the number of bryophyte species ranked presumed extirpated, possibly extirpated, critically imperiled, imperiled, vulnerable, apparently secure, secure, unrankable, unranked and not applicable in Canada, each province and territory and the 4 oceanic regions. Of the 1375 species occurring in Canada, 2 were ranked as Presumed Extirpated, 1 as Possibly Extirpated, 75 as Critically Imperiled, 85 as Imperiled, 134 as Vulnerable, 249 as Apparently Secure, 403 as Secure, 378 as Unrankable, 20 as Unranked, and 28 as Not Applicable. Of the 767 species occurring in Yukon, 4 were ranked as Possibly Extirpated, 22 as Critically Imperiled, 74 as Imperiled, 117 as Vulnerable, 110 as Apparently Secure, 47 as Secure, 156 as Unrankable, 59 as Unranked, and 178 as Not Applicable. Of the 628 species occurring in Northwest Territories, 32 were ranked as Critically Imperiled, 50 as Imperiled, 25 as Vulnerable, 165 as Apparently Secure, 7 as Secure, and 349 as Unrankable. Of the 403 species occurring in Nunavut, 36 were ranked as Critically Imperiled, 28 as Imperiled, 109 as Vulnerable, 38 as Apparently Secure, and 192 as Unrankable. Of the 1006 species occurring in British Columbia, 1 was ranked as Presumed Extirpated, 3 as Possibly Extirpated, 102 as Critically Imperiled, 95 as Imperiled, 280 as Vulnerable, 280 as Apparently Secure, 25 as Secure, 92 as Unrankable, 92 as Unranked, and 36 as Not Applicable. Of the 683 species occurring in Alberta, 117 were ranked as Critically Imperiled, 128 as Imperiled, 173 as Vulnerable, 90 as Apparently Secure, 11 as Secure, and 164 as Unrankable. Of the 353 species occurring in Saskatchewan, 16 were ranked as Vulnerable, 2 as Apparently Secure, 94 as Secure, and 241 as Unrankable. Of the 471 species occurring in Manitoba, 1 was ranked as Imperiled, 11 as Vulnerable, 67 as Apparently Secure, 310 as Unrankable, 40 as Unranked, and 42 as Not Applicable. Of the 680 species occurring in Ontario, 3 were ranked as Presumed Extirpated, 2 as Possibly Extirpated, 51 as Critically Imperiled, 141 as Imperiled, 167 as Vulnerable, 98 as Apparently Secure, 68 as Secure, 148 as Unrankable, and 2 as Not Applicable. Of the 865 species occurring in Quebec, 23 were ranked as Possibly Extirpated, 191 as Critically Imperiled, 101 as Imperiled, 144 as Vulnerable, 81 as Apparently Secure, 250 as Secure, 24 as Unrankable, and 51 as Not Applicable. Of the 528 species occurring in New Brunswick, 8 were ranked as Possibly Extirpated, 89 as Critically Imperiled, 80 as Imperiled, 41 as Vulnerable, 92 as Apparently Secure, 171 as Secure, and 47 as Unrankable. Of the 590 species occurring in Nova Scotia, 79 were ranked as Critically Imperiled, 56 as Imperiled, 19 as Vulnerable, 88 as Apparently Secure, 182 as Secure, 164 as Unrankable, and 2 as Not Applicable. Of the 265 species occurring in Prince Edward Island, 43 were ranked as Critically Imperiled, 15 as Imperiled, 13 as Vulnerable, 34 as Apparently Secure, 54 as Secure, and 106 as Unrankable. Of the 525 species occurring in Labrador, 3 were ranked as Possibly Extirpated, 18 as Critically Imperiled, 159 as Imperiled, 107 as Vulnerable, 95 as Apparently Secure, and 143 as Urankable. Of the 640 species occurring in Newfoundland, 20 were ranked as Critically Imperiled, 177 as Imperiled, 140 as Vulnerable, 134 as Apparently Secure, 10 as Secure, 154 as Unrankable, and 5 as Not Applicable. There were no species listed as occurring in the oceanic regions.

Vascular plants

Photo of a flower, Drooping Trillium
Photo: Drooping Trillium ( Trillium flexipes) © Thomas G. Barnes

Vascular plants refer to the phylum Tracheophyta. Plants are critical to all life. They provide oxygen, food, and wildlife habitat. They regulate the climate, create soil, improve air and water quality, and reduce erosion. Vascular plants have roots, leaves, and vessels (i.e. a vascular system) to transport water and nutrients. They include plants with spores such as ferns, and cone-bearing plants like pine trees, but the vast majority are flowering plants (e.g. grasses, orchids, maple trees). To reproduce, they use the wind or animals to carry pollen from male to female flower parts, and flowers have developed showy petals, nectar, and alluring scents to attract pollinators. Seeds in turn may be wind-dispersed or may be enclosed in fruit to entice animals to eat and spread them. In nutrient poor wetlands, some species have gone carnivorous, and actually eat insects. The distribution and status of vascular plants is generally well known, particularly for southern Canada. Most current research focuses on species significant to agriculture, forestry, or medicine. Habitat loss, habitat degradation and invasive species are the major threats to vascular plants. Over-harvesting is a concern for some species, particularly those with high medicinal or aesthetic value.

There are 5211 known species of vascular plants in Canada (Figure 7). The majority of these species are apparently secure or secure (52%). There are 26 species that are presumed extirpated, 24 species that are possibly extirpated, 315 species that are critically imperiled, and 325 species that are imperiled. Of these 690 species, 396 have only a small part of their range in Canada (10% or less) and 240 are intermediary (from 11% to 74%). However, 54 species have 75% or more of their range in Canada. Among those, 42 species are thought to be endemic to Canada: Quebec Rockcress (Boechera quebecensis), False Northwestern Moonwort (Botrychium pseudopinnatum), Fernald’s Braya (Braya fernaldii), Long’s Braya (Braya longii), Hairy Braya (Braya pilosa), Newfoundland Chickweed (Cerastium terrae-novae), Elkwater Hawthorn (Crataegus aquacervensis), Dark Green Hawthorn (Crataegus atrovirens), Enderby Hawthorn (Crataegus enderbyensis), Orbicular-leaved Hawthorn (Crataegus orbicularis), Adams Creek Hawthorn (Crataegus rivuloadamensis), Battle Creek Hawthorn (Crataegus rivulopugnensis), Red Bracteole Hawthorn (Crataegus rubribracteolata), Sheila Phipps’s Hawthorn (Crataegus sheila-phippsiae), Shuswap Hawthorn (Crataegus shuswapensis), Macoun’s Cryptantha (Cryptantha macounii), Mackenzie Hairgrass (Deschampsia mackenzieana), Caswell’s Draba (Draba caswellii), Cayouette’s Draba (Draba cayouettei), Frankton’s Draba (Draba franktonii), Kluane Draba (Draba kluanei), Puvirnituq Mountain Draba (Draba puvirnituqii), Dense Draba (Draba pycnosperma), Taylor’s Draba (Draba taylori), Yukon Draba (Draba yukonensis), Ojibway Waterwort (Elatine ojibwayensis), Peace River Fleabane (Erigeron pacalis), Queen Charlotte Avens (Geum schofieldii), Gaspé Saxifrage (Micranthes gaspensis), Nymphaea loriana, Mackenzie River Yellowcress (Rorippa crystalline), Seashore Stitchwort (Sabulina litorea), Green-scaled Willow (Salix chlorolepis), Barrens Willow (Salix jejuna), Blanket-leaved Willow (Salix silicicola), Turnor’s Willow (Salix turnorii), Tyrrell’s Willow (Salix tyrrellii, Mount Albert Goldenrod (Solidago chlorolepis), Gillman’s Goldenrod (Solidago gillmani), Solidago jejunifolia, Gulf of St. Lawrence Aster (Symphyotrichum laurentianum), Gulf of St. Lawrence Dandelion (Taraxacum laurentianum). In total, 138 species have a high priority score (between 1 and 5). We also identified 1315 species that are exotic at the national level. We do not have enough knowledge on 47 species to give them a rank other than NU or NNR. No species of vascular plants are considered migratory.

All the vascular plants were assessed in the Wild Species 2010 report. Since then, 949 species had a change in their status at the national level. A total of 227 species had an increased level of risk, 195 species had a reduced level of risk, and 85 species were changed from or to ranks U, NR, NA. Also, 271 species have been added to the list and 171 have been deleted from the list. Most of the changes (35%) are due to an improved knowledge of the species.

Figure 7. General status of vascular plants in Canada in 2015.
Bar graph (see long description below)
Long description for figure 7

Figure 7 shows the general status of vascular plants in Canada in 2015. The bar graph shows the number of vascular plant species ranked presumed extirpated, possibly extirpated, critically imperiled, imperiled, vulnerable, apparently secure, secure, unrankable, unranked and not applicable in Canada, each province and territory and the 4 oceanic regions. Of the 5211 species occurring in Canada, 26 were ranked as Presumed Extirpated, 24 as Possibly Extirpated, 315 as Critically Imperiled, 325 as Imperiled, 467 as Vulnerable, 1005 as Apparently Secure, 1684 as Secure, 46 as Unrankable, 1 as Unranked, and 1318 as Not Applicable. Of the 1217 species occurring in Yukon, 11 were ranked as Possibly Extirpated, 72 as Critically Imperiled, 186 as Imperiled, 203 as Vulnerable, 261 as Apparently Secure, 280 as Secure, 33 as Unrankable, 10 as Unranked, and 161 as Not Applicable. Of the 1178 species occurring in Northwest Territories, 126 species were ranked as Imperiled, 107 as Vulnerable, 634 as Apparently Secure, 82 as Secure, 96 as Unrankable, 1 as Unranked, and 132 as Not Applicable. Of the 690 species occurring in Nunavut, 1 was ranked as Critically Imperiled, 61 as Imperiled, 42 as Vulnerable, 100 as Apparently Secure, 20 as Secure, 444 as Unrankable, and 22 as Not Applicable. Of the 2967 species occurring in British Columbia, 5 were ranked as Presumed Extirpated, 16 as Possibly Extirpated, 157 as Critically Imperiled, 224 as Imperiled, 306 as Vulnerable, 560 as Apparently Secure, 849 as Secure, 6 as Unrankable, 53 as Unranked, and 791 as Not Applicable. Of the 1951 species occurring in Alberta, 11 were ranked as Possibly Extirpated, 165 as Critically Imperiled, 178 as Imperiled, 505 as Vulnerable, 287 as Apparently Secure, 421 as Secure, 35 as Unrankable, and 349 as Not Applicable. Of the 1582 species occurring in Saskatchewan, 33 were ranked as Possibly Extirpated, 156 as Critically Imperiled, 126 as Imperiled, 175 as Vulnerable, 607 as Apparently Secure, 133 as Secure, 1 as Unranked, and 351 as Not Applicable. Of the 1685 species occurring in Manitoba, 11 were ranked as Possibly Extirpated, 241 as Critically Imperiled, 179 as Imperiled, 269 as Vulnerable, 312 as Apparently Secure, 279 as Secure, 58 as Unrankable, and 336 as Not Applicable. Of the 3118 species occurring in Ontario, 24 were ranked as Presumed Extirpated, 44 as Possibly Extirpated, 253 as Critically Imperiled, 212 as Imperiled, 139 as Vulnerable, 591 as Apparently Secure, 726 as Secure, 49 as Unrankable, and 1080 as Not Applicable. Of the 2577 species occurring in Quebec, 8 were ranked as Presumed Extirpated, 26 as Possibly Extirpated, 111 as Critically Imperiled, 170 as Imperiled, 436 as Vulnerable, 486 as Apparently Secure, 430 as Secure, 46 as Unrankable, 23 as Unranked, and 841 as Not Applicable. Of the 1705 species occurring in New Brunswick, 5 were ranked as Presumed Extirpated, 9 as Possibly Extirpated, 155 as Critically Imperiled, 135 as Imperiled, 137 as Vulnerable, 256 as Apparently Secure, 415 as Secure, 12 as Unrankable, 1 as Unranked, and 580 as Not Applicable. Of the 1705 species occurring in Nova Scotia, 1 was ranked as Presumed Extirpated, 7 as Possibly Extirpated, 175 as Critically Imperiled, 122 as Imperiled, 111 as Vulnerable, 244 as Apparently Secure, 392 as Secure, 16 as Unrankable, 1 as Unranked, and 636 as Not Applicable. Of the 1102 species occurring in Prince Edward Island, 10 were ranked as Possibly Extirpated, 169 as Critically Imperiled, 116 as Imperiled, 62 as Vulnerable, 151 as Apparently Secure, 194 as Secure, 11 as Unrankable, and 389 as Not Applicable. Of the 774 species occurring in Labrador, 4 were ranked as Possibly Extirpated, 70 as Critically Imperiled, 112 as Imperiled, 168 as Vulnerable, 165 as Apparently Secure, 84 as Secure, 79 as Unrankable, and 92 as Not Applicable. Of the 1179 species occurring in Newfoundland, 17 were ranked as Possibly Extirpated, 119 as Critically Imperiled, 140 as Imperiled, 227 as Vulnerable, 174 as Apparently Secure, 171 as Secure, 29 as Unrankable, and 302 as Not Applicable. There were no species listed as occurring in the oceanic regions.

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