Wood-poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum) recovery strategy: chapter 4


4.1 Rationale for Recovery Feasibility

Ecological and technical feasibility of species recovery 

Wood-poppy has always been rare in Canada, so widespread reintroductions within the range of the species in Ontario are an inappropriate approach to recovery, even though apparently suitable habitat exists within the previous range. 

Based on limited data regarding the success of ex-situ populations, it is likely that Wood-poppy recovery will be successful. Experimentation is needed to find out how to create and manage optimal germination sites. Mature plants are easy to produce under cultivation and transplant success has been moderate to good in the limited trials to date.

Demographic monitoring has not yet been sufficient to determine if populations are viable over long periods. Individual plants are long lived and reproduce annually.  The limiting factors appear to be seed predation and lack of germination sites.  Larger numbers of seeds produced by more plants would increase the probability of some seeds surviving.

There is little evidence of inbreeding depression even at the site with the smallest population. Seed:ovule ratio was the same as for all three extant Canadian populations and although germination rates were slightly lower, the difference was not significant.  Seedlings and adult plants ex situ are as vigorous as plants from the three extant Canadian populations.

Based on the above information, recovery is deemed feasible and will require continued site protection (low effort), some habitat restoration through invasive species control and creation of germination sites (moderate effort) and will include experimental translocation at one site (high effort). 

Anticipated Conflicts or Challenges 

The most likely challenge to Wood-poppy protection is change of ownership or land use at the privately owned sites.  Population C is in a sugar bush owned and operated by a large local producer.  It is unlikely to be affected unless there is a change in management or ownership of the operation.  Population B is within the City of London.  Although the site is currently zoned Agricultural and it is not within a designated growth area, it is almost certain that adjacent lands will be developed in the future.  Even though the critical habitat may be protected, impacts from surrounding land use will be unavoidable as the site is close to the edge of the existing woodland and already heavily used for recreation.  Current landowners of all three sites are members of the Recovery Team.

4.2    Recovery Goal, objectives and corresponding approaches

4.2.1   Recovery Goal

The goals are to ensure that extant natural populations of Wood-poppy are protected with no loss of numbers of mature individuals, to secure the habitat, and to restore populations at all known localities to numbers and demographic structures that are self sustaining.

4.2.2   Recovery Objectives 

1)     Stabilize or increase population sizes of mature plants at all known sites.

2)     Increase recruitment rates at all known sites.

3)     Increase population size at Population A to at least 50 mature individuals by out-planting progeny from that site raised ex situ.

4)     Improve and protect habitat by controlling public access to Wood-poppy sites.

5)     Improve degraded habitat by managing invasive plant species.

6)     Determine the genetic variability within and among populations to determine relatedness and degree of outbreeding.

7)     Maintain landowner support and commitment to protecting Wood-poppy habitat and explore stewardship incentives.

8)     Secure Wood-poppy habitat in the City of London through policy, easements and agreements.

9)     Increase awareness and support for the objectives of the Recovery Strategy.

4.2.3   Approaches Recommended to Meet Recovery Objectives

Priority Obj. No. Broad Approach/Strategy Threats Addressed General Steps Outcomes or Deliverables
1 2, 3

·  Study seed and seedling survivorship.

·  Create germination sites to enhance germination rates.

·  Poor recruitment

·  Seed predation

·  Lack of seed dispersal

·  Study of germination sites and germination requirements.

·  Additional experiments on seed predation and dispersal.

·  Grow seedlings ex situ and out plant progeny.

·  Determine viability and storage time for seeds.

·  Monitor seedling survivorship

·  Continue experiments in creating germination sites.

·  Better understanding of seed viability, survivorship and germination requirements to guide management options.

·  Higher recruitment levels at all populations.

·  Published paper on Wood-poppy seed ecology.

1 3 ·  Out plantings of ex situ material. ·  Poor recruitment ·  Collect seeds and grow material for out planting. ·  At least 50 mature plants at Population A.
1 4

·  Signage and trail closure to control access.

·  Prepare and distribute information to recreationalists.

·  Recreation pressure

·  Signage.

·  Trail closures.

·  Prepare material on fragile sites and Species at Risk for distribution to off-road cyclists

·  Prepare materials about landowner rights and trespassing issues.

·  Reduced trespassing and recreation Population B.

·  Articles and promotional material about trespassing issues in recreation literature.

1 5 ·  Invasive species control as necessary. ·  Invasive species

·  Monitor invasive species populations.

·  Continued removal of Garlic Mustard.

·  Control of Japanese Knotweed.

·  Response as needed to invasive species problems.

·  Reduced impact of invasive species

·  Japanese Knotweed removal at Population B.

1 8 ·  Landowner contact, monitoring and enforcement. ·  Erosion and fill ·  Monitor activities on Wood-poppy site and adjacent land.

·  Quick response to new problems.

·  Enforcement when infractions occur.

1 7, 8

·  Encourage landowners and land trusts to explore stewardship options and conservation incentives. 

·  Communicate with city planners to protect critical habitat.

·  Land use conflicts

·  Increase landowner awareness.

·  Explore the best options for securing the Wood-poppy site and a buffer at Population B before detailed land use planning occurs.

·  Land at Population B secured from land use conflicts
2 1 ·  Increase the  number of known sites ·  Small population size ·  Search for additional sites.

·  New areas searched for additional populations

· More known sites if plants are found.

2 1, 2 ·  Study the possible effects of small population size. ·  Small population size ·  Demographic monitoring to provide data for Population Viability Analysis. ·  Preliminary Population Viability Analysis models created
2 6

·  Examine within and among population genetic variability.

·  Examine relationships with US populations.

·  Genetic isolation

·   Develop DNA markers.

·   Sequence stored material from Canadian populations.

·   Determine genetic variability of Canadian populations. Determine relationships with US populations.

·   Identify genetic management units. Determine intrinsic life history attributes.

·  Understanding of genetic variability within and between Wood-poppy populations.

·  Genetic management units identified.

2 7 ·  Landowner involvement and communication to direct and monitor forest management. ·  Forest management

·  Monitor activities at all sites.

·  Assist landowners to prepare management plans

·  Management plans created and implemented for each Wood-poppy site.
3 1 ·  Monitor and document the effects of extreme climate events e.g. drought, late frosts. ·  Climate ·  Monitor effects of weather events on Wood-poppy performance. ·  Role of climatic factors better understood.
3 9

·  Develop educational materials and contacts with gardening groups, nurseries and seed suppliers.

·  Discourage wildflower gardeners from making introductions into new sites.

·  Discourage use of material that does not originate from Canada.

·  Wildflower gardening

·  Create and distribute information materials (pamphlets, newsletter articles) to increase awareness.

·  Contact with gardening groups, nurseries and seed suppliers.

·  Information available to wildflower gardeners, nurseries and seed suppliers about problems with restoration and gardening with endangered species.

·  Increased awareness about using material of local provenance.

4.2.4      Effects on non-target species

Wood-poppy is a forest herb that grows in a mixed ground layer under a deciduous canopy.  Invasive species (Garlic Mustard and Japanese Knotweed) are potential threats to survival of the habitat.  Both species are being deliberately targeted for removal.

Experimental out-planting of Wood-poppy plants at Population A may include removal or disturbance of some native plants during the preparation of the planting sites.  Effects will be very local as Wood Poppies will be spot-planted into the existing habitat.  All potential planting sites will receive a three-season inventory prior to final selection to ensure no rare or sensitive species will be affected.  No other species at risk are likely to be impacted by recovery actions for Wood-poppy.

4.2.5      Performance measures

Performance measures for the success of recovery action will include:

1.     Census of mature individuals at all three sites show increasing numbers.

2.     Out-planted plants survive and produce second generation progeny.

3.     A reduced requirement for trail management and patrol at Population B indicates reduced, or less aggressive, trespassing.

4.     Reduced requirement for management for Japanese Knotweed at Population B.

5.     Demographic monitoring and Population Viability Analysis indicate population stability or growth at all three sites.

6.     Microsatellite analysis establishes degree of genetic variability and outcrossing within and among Canadian populations and relationship to US populations.

7.     Landowner participation results in stewardship agreements or similar protection of Wood-poppy sites.  Municipal Official Plans and policies provide better protection for Wood-poppy habitat.

4.3    Knowledge Gaps

Survey Requirements: Repeated surveys to look for additional populations will continue in suitable habitat within the species known range in Ontario and around extirpated sites.  Historic information on species location is very vague and general. Two additional sites have been found since the species was reported in 1987 after it was believed extirpated.   The annual window of opportunity is limited to the flowering season (about 2 weeks in May), when the plants are easily visible.  These surveys will continue.  Old air photos (1945) will be used to screen sites that have had continuous woodland cover for at least the last 100 years.

Biological/Ecological Research Requirements: More demographic monitoring is needed to establish rates of recruitment so that Population Viability Analysis can be done. Although studies are under way, we know little about the genetic variability within and among populations.  Until this is understood recovery efforts at each population will be limited to local material.

Clarification of Threats Research Requirements: Seed survival and germination seem to be the most important limiting factors in long term Wood-poppy survival.  Although some information as to causes is available, more study is needed about seed dispersal, seed predation and germination requirements.  Nothing is known about Wood-poppy seed banks or the long-term survival of seeds in the soil or in storage.  Because mature Wood-poppy plants are long-lived (at least 10 years and possibly 20 or more years) and recruitment rates are low, long-term viability of the population is difficult to determine.  All studies on Wood-poppy in Canada have been conducted in the last 10 years, when the weather was warmer than normal.  Flowering rates appear to be reduced in cold springs. New growth that does not harden off because snow banks cover the plants can be killed by late frosts (personal observation). 

4.4    Recommended Scale for Recovery 

The Wood-poppy Recovery Project was initiated as a direct response to immediate threats to one of the populations.  No other threatened or endangered species are known from these sites.  Seven years of effort have gone into habitat protection, habitat restoration and research on the species.  Much more is now known about its ecology. To date Wood-poppy recovery has been a “low-budget” operation with substantial in-kind contribution from members of the Recovery Team.  Experiences during the process, such as landowner involvement, can certainly be applied to other situations.   Biological information such as demographic monitoring can be used as models for other taxa with similar life histories.  Genetic studies will provide information about genetic variability of plant populations at the edge of the species range.

4.5    Statement of When One or More Action Plans in Relation to the Recovery Strategy Will Be Completed

The Wood-poppy Recovery Team is a small group that formed in 1996. The Draft Recovery Plan (Bowles, 1997) has formed the basis for seven years of recovery activities performed by the Recovery Team.  Ongoing activities include monitoring, invasive species control and management of ex situ populations.

An Action Plan for implementing activities to meet recovery objectives will be completed in late 2008 depending on priorities and constraints of the lead and participating organizations.

An Action Plan for collecting of seed, growing plants and out planting of ex situ material to increase the number of plants at Population A will be completed in June 2008 depending on priorities and constraints of the lead and participating organizations.

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