Developing Predictive Models for Tallgrass
Prairie Plant Species at Risk in Manitoba
By Douglas R. Collicutt & John P. Morgan, Prairie Habitats Inc.
This article serves to publish the findings of the Prairie Habitats Inc. project: Developing Predictive Models for Tallgrass Prairie Plant Species at Risk in Manitoba. Below is the executive summary for the project final report. The entire report can be downloaded from the link below the summary. This work was made possible with grants from Manitoba's Sustainable Development Innovations Fund.
Five endangered or threatened plant species, the Western Silvery Aster (WSA) Small White Lady’s Slipper (SWLS), Western Prairie White Fringed Orchid (WPFO), Culver’s Root (CVRT) and Riddell’s Goldenrod (RDGR) were studied on 224 sites in southern Manitoba in 2007, 2008 and 2011. The main objectives of the research were to identify factors that could be used to predict those species’ distributions and refine them into predictive models (PMs) useful to land managers. The intent was to make field inventories more efficient in the future, leading to more effective and timely management and conservation.
Survey efforts using the PM developed for WSA were used to identify 13 new locations and formally define the range of this species in Manitoba. No clear indications were discovered regarding modeling SWLS occurrence, but significant differences in the plant communities among the three regions of Manitoba where this species occurs were noted. Potential new sites for WPFO were identified but no new populations were encountered. Our work points to the need for in-depth research into the edaphic and hydrological conditions that are the likely determinate factors to the limited distribution of this endangered species. Our research confirmed the ecotonal habitat for CVRT, a species found along the edges where tall grass prairie meets aspen forest. RDGR, with a wide distribution in southeastern Manitoba, was found to occupy similar wet prairie habitats to WPFO, further suggesting that habitat type and plant community are not the defining factors for WPFO distribution. Five new locations for Riddell’s Goldenrod were discovered.
The distribution in Manitoba of four of the five species studied has lead to the recognition of the significance of a distinct biogeographical region in southeast Manitoba, the Sandilands Moraine Terrace. Though not all goals of the original project were attained, significant strides in developing predictive models for all five species were made.
Download the full report (29 Mb):
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