Hairy braya plant survey on Cape Bathurst, August 2022

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region

Tags: Hairy braya, rare plant, plant survey

Principal Investigator: Wilson, Joanna (1)
Licence Number: 17025
Organization: Government of the Northwest Territories
Licensed Year(s): 2022
Issued: May 06, 2022
Project Team: Jim Harris

Objective(s): To secure future existence of hairy braya seeds/plants and to monitor hairy braya population, range and habitat.

Project Description: This licence has been issued for the scientific research application No.5135.

The goals of the project are: a) Describing the current population and distribution of the hairy braya, and any changes since 2011. b) Documenting threats and habitat condition, and any changes since 2011. c) Investigating areas that may be good habitat for the plant but were not surveyed in 2011, to improve information on population and distribution. d) Collecting mature hairy braya seeds from across the range for conservation in a seed bank.

The project will address the following objectives and approaches from the Recovery Strategy for Hairy Braya: Objective #1: Secure future existence of hairy braya seeds/plants. Approach 1.1: Deposit a portion of the existing seed collection for storage and propagation in a seed bank. Approach 1.2: Gather samples from throughout the hairy braya’s distribution for seed bank, to cover the range of genetic diversity. Objective #2: Monitor hairy braya population, range and habitat. Approach 2.1: Survey the distribution and abundance of hairy braya every 10 years, and investigate possible range further south on the Cape Bathurst peninsula to determine if hairy braya is found there. To learn more about the biodiversity of the area, the research team may also collect a small number of plant species specimens and collect some insects with an insect trap.

The research team will re-visit all the known locations of hairy braya from the 2011 survey. The team will also fly over the area of possible habitat that has not yet been surveyed, search for suitable habitat from the air (i.e. coastal bluffs and dry uplands), and stop and search for hairy braya where the team find suitable habitat. In each location, the team will identify the plants, record geographic coordinates and estimate population sizes of hairy braya. The team will also record the habitat condition with particular attention to erosion, plant mortality due to salt spray, and evidence of flooding.

The timing of the survey is planned to collect mature, viable hairy braya seeds. The seed collection protocol is designed to minimize impact on the population while maximizing genetic diversity of seeds (seeds from 10 plants per sub-population, never more than half of the seeds on any one plant). Specimens of hairy braya and other plant species encountered may be collected in small quantities, enough to make 1 to 4 scientific records (herbarium sheets) per species. An insect trap (blue vane and/or malaise) may also be set up at the base camp to collect insect specimens to help document the biodiversity of the area.

This survey and the seed collections are recommended in the NWT Recovery Strategy for Hairy Braya, which was developed with input from Inuvialuit and approved by the Wildlife Management Advisory Council (NWT) (WMAC (NWT)). WMAC (NWT) has told the team that Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) should take the lead on implementing the actions in the recovery strategy, including this survey.

The research team have communicated with WMAC (NWT), Inuvialuit Game Council (IGC) and the Tuktoyaktuk Hunters and Trappers Committee (THTC) about the plans for the survey. The team applied to the Inuvialuit Land Administration (ILA) for a land use license and to the Environmental Impact Screening Committee (EISC) for a pre-screening assessment.

We will produce a report on the survey results, including a plain language summary, and share it with partners including the THTC, IGC, WMAC (NWT), Inuvialuit Land Administration (ILA), NWT Species at Risk Committee (SARC) and Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC). The team will offer to meet with partners in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region to present the results.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from August 08, 2022 to August 31, 2022