Tuesday, May 2, 2017

April 2017 plant hunt summary

The month of April began with a couple of warm days, which brought an early spring with some trees and shrubs documented several weeks ahead of previous years.  Historically, April was one of the most biodiverse since 2010 with a total of 126 species recorded across 10 counties and municipalities.  This month's records were, however, surpassed by the all time record of 210 species set in 2012.

We would like to welcome back Talia Plaskett for the 2017 Field Botany Mentorship Program.  We were introduced to Talia in the April 2016 plant hunt summary article.  Talia shall be joining Senior Botanist Dave Jolly while surveying vascular plants along the Bruce Trail in the Hamilton and Dundas areas.  To date, Talia and Dave explored the Sulphur Springs Road section (managed by the Iroquois Bruce Trail club) of the Bruce Trail on April 29th.  This beautiful 5 km section wraps through undulating topography of rock and deciduous forest.  Together, Talia and Dave documented 21 flowering date records and applied Ecological Land Classification (ELC) methodology to classify the vegetation, soil, hydrology and geology into distinct vegetation units.

The rarest plant observed in the month of April was Harbinger of Spring (Erigenia bulbosa).  Interestingly, the first EARTHQUEST (Canada) for the Environment record of this species was documented by Mr. Brian Popelier, Land Stewardship Coordinator & Terrestrial Ecologist with the Bruce Trail Conservancy and a good friend of EARTHQUEST (Canada).  To add information to knowledge gaps on this species the population that Brian observed on April 9, 2010 in Elgin county has been inventoried every year since 2014.  Insect pollinators have been recorded since 2015 and include Tachnid flies (Tachnidae family) and Sweat bees (Halictidae family).  This population has remained relatively stable between 107 and 288 total stems.  The good news is that the number of seedlings has been steadily increasing with 19 found in 2017 surveys.

A significant contribution to the month of April was the completion of an ELC and vegetation survey for Port Burwell Provincial Park.  This project was initiated on May 14,2016 with assistance from the Otter Valley Naturalists and Park staff.  A total of 420 species of vascular plants, including 3 Ontario Species at Risk, 4 species of special concern (S1 - S3 ranked), 20 regionally rare within the Carolinian forest region, and 25 locally rare within Elgin county were recorded.  The report was submitted to Ontario Parks on April 30th.

View the summary for the April, 2017 plant hunt summary

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