Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute (MTRI) : Institut de recherche du Mersey Tobeatic

Eastern Mountain Avens Conservation

MTRI

MTRI is a non-profit co-operative with a mandate to promote sustainable use of natural resources and biodiversity conservation in the Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve and beyond through research, education, and the operation of a field station.

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Eastern Mountain Avens

Photo Credit: Diane LaRue

 

In 2012 MTRI began a project to help the recovery of the Eastern Mountain Avens (Geum peckii). This plant lives in only two locations in the world! In the White Mountains of New Hampshire it lives in mountainous brooks and alpine areas. On Brier Island, and Digby Neck, Nova Scotia it lives in bogs close to sea level.

The Eastern Mountain Avens has many threats but the Canadian population has been helped for many decades by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC). NCC owns the Brier Island Nature Preserve on Brier Island. This important conservation property is a large portion of the island and encompasses much of the Eastern Mountain Avens habitat. Over the decades NCC has successfully mitigated many of the threats on their property.

Some of the avens habitat on the island is in pristine condition. Elsewhere on Brier Island some of the avens population is under threat from historical circumstances. In 1952 a large drainage ditch was dug through a bog in the center of the island (Big Meadow Bog) in an attempt to increase its potential for agriculture. Though that project never 'bore fruit', so to speak, the ditch remains to this day and has drastically altered the hydrology of Big Meadow Bog. As a result the bog has dried out, allowing rudderal species to invade.

Over the decades a gull colony also moved into the bog. The result of this is increased nutrients (from the gulls) and drier soil/peat (from the drainage ditch) and a drastically altered vegetation community. Eastern Mountain Avens in many parts of Big Meadow Bog is under direct threat from nesting gulls and encroaching vegetation.

In 2012, MTRI sought to conduct a census of Eastern Mountain Avens in Nova Scotia in order to establish a baseline for a long term monitoring project. As a result MTRI will produce a standardized monitoring protocol for the avens that will provide a variety of monitoring opportunities for a variety of volunteers and professionals. MTRI is also following up on past recommendations by Nature Conservancy Canada reports investigating bog restoration (plugging it up!). This is likely the only long term solution to help this globally endangered species on Brier Island and will require the input of many wetland experts. MTRI also worked with Acadia University (E.C. Smith Herbarium) to establish a seed bank for Eastern Mountain Avens by collecting seeds and transporting them to the herbarium for storage.

 


 

Reproductive Biology of Eastern Mountain Avens

Eastern mountain avens (EMA) is listed as Endangered both federally and provincially. It is an herbaceous perennial that reproduces vegetatively through rhizomes, which produce clonal patches, and sexually by seed.  It is only found in Nova Scotia, on Brier Island and at one site on the Digby Neck, and in alpine New Hampshire.  It occurs in a variety of habitats in both New Hampshire and Nova Scotia, and consistent moisture is probably the one critical habitat requirement.  In Nova Scotia, it usually grows with sphagnum in bogs and fens, although it is also found in drier areas such as roadsides and recovering pasture on Brier Island.  Prior to this study, little was known about germination requirements for seeds from Nova Scotia populations.   It is not known if patches in Nova Scotia are expanding or only stable through clonal growth in response to shrub encroachment.  Propagation and growth studies can provide information on life history to be gathered without disturbing natural populations.

      Photo Credits: Diane LaRue

 

Project Objectives

 

Methods

 

2014 Results

 

Years of Data

 

Partners

Photo Credit: Diane LaRue