Scientific Name: Isoetes bolanderi
Other/Previous Names: Isoëtes bolanderi
Taxonomy Group: Vascular Plants
Last COSEWIC Assessment: April 2006
Last COSEWIC Designation: Threatened
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Threatened
Image of Bolander's Quillwort
Bolander’s Quillwort is a small perennial aquatic plant classified as a fern ally. The plant has soft-textured, straight leaves arising in tufts from an underground stem usually embedded in the bottom of a lake. Bolander’s Quillwort is a true aquatic species, growing underwater and only rarely as an emergent along lakeshores. In Canada, the plants typically grow between 3 and 7 cm in height. The leaves are bright green to brownish green and taper to a very fine point. They are usually between 6 and 13 cm long, but they can be as short as 3 cm and as long as 25 cm. There is a translucent flap of tissue (velum) on the inner side of the leaf base; the size of the velum can be used to distinguish this species from other quillworts. Embedded in the leaf base is a sporangium, an organ that produces small reproductive cells (spores) that germinate and give rise to new individuals. Female sporangia, called megasporangia, contain white oval spores with numerous tubercles (raised bumps) that occasionally form ridges on the upper surface. Male sporangia, called microsporangia, contain spores resembling brownish-gray dust. Both types of spores mature in late summer.
Distribution and Population
Bolander’s Quillwort is found in the Rocky Mountains and the Coast, Cascade and Sierra Nevada mountains from southwestern Alberta to California, northern Arizona and New Mexico. It was first discovered in Canada in 1946 in the Carthew Lakes area of Waterton Lakes National Park of Canada in Alberta. This population has not been seen again, despite several recent searches. In 1953, a substantial population was discovered in Summit Lake, also in Waterton Lakes National Park. Currently, the entire Canadian population of Bolander’s Quillwort is confined to the Summit Lake location, a lake of 2 ha. In 2002 and 2003, 24 potentially suitable lakes were surveyed in southwestern Alberta and adjacent British Columbia but no additional populations were found. A 2003 survey estimated the Summit Lake population to be about 12 million plants. A 2004 survey found no significant change in the size of the population. This population has not been evaluated often enough to determine trends.
Bolander’s Quillwort grows in high-elevation ponds and small lakes with clear, cold water. These mountain lakes are deficient in plant nutrients, and no other vegetation is found within stands of this quillwort species. The species usually grows in layers of silt or in silty sand overlying coarse sand. The plants in Summit Lake grow in water at least 1.5 m deep. This population occupies a relatively stable habitat.
At the Summit Lake location in Alberta, Bolander’s Quillwort forms almost pure stands and extends across virtually all of the lake bottom, where it produces large quantities of viable spores and appears to be reproducing successfully. No vegetative reproduction is known for this species. The biology of Bolander’s Quillwort is poorly known, but its life cycle is believed to be similar to that of other quillwort species. In quillworts, the main plant is a sporophyte (spore-producing individual). Quillworts produce two types of spores: large female spores (megaspores) and small male spores (microspores). Spores that germinate form minuscule plants called gametophytes. Megaspores give rise to female gametophytes, which produce eggs; microspores give rise to male gametophytes, which produce sperm. When an egg is fertilized by a sperm, a young sporophtye, which will in turn generate spores, is produced. It probably takes three to five years for the plants to mature sufficiently to produce spores. Spore dispersal begins when the sporangia are ruptured, either by physical impact or by decay at the end of the growing season. The frequency of dense stands suggests that the spores are usually dispersed only a short distance. Dispersal likely occurs in late summer and the fall. Shorebirds may transport spores of Bolander’s Quillwort on their feet, but Canadian locations are not suitable for migratory shorebirds. Waterfowl and large wading animals, such as moose, may transport spores.
Since Bolander’s Quillwort is currently known from only one 2-ha location in Canada, it is vulnerable to extirpation by a single catastrophic event. Although little impact is evident at the Summit Lake site, recreational activity may be the greatest immediate threat to the small population. The main recreational trail is located beside the lake, where it could cause erosion. The impacts of erosion (which has the potential to degrade adjacent areas of shallow water) have already been observed round the lake. Signs of recreational wading have also been observed. These impacts are highly localized and are not significant at present but could become significant if there is an increase in recreational activities. Another potential threat relates to impacts from the use of Summit Lake as a source of water to fight forest fires. Although Parks Canada has implemented measures to minimize such disturbances, pumping of water from the lake or helicopter bucketing operations could physically disturb the plants. A fuel spill could affect the entire population of this small lake. An accidental or intentional release of toxic substances, such as pesticides or petroleum products, represents the most severe potential threat to the long-term viability of the Summit Lake population. An incident of this type would affect the population directly or encourage growth of competing aquatic species. One such event could extirpate this species from Canada.
Federal ProtectionThe Bolander's Quillwort is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.
The only Bolander’s Quillwort population in Canada occurs within Waterton Lakes National Park of Canada, where it is protected under the Canada National Parks Act.
Provincial and Territorial Protection
Status of Recovery Planning
Recovery Strategies :
Name Recovery Strategy and Action Plan for Bolander's Quillwort (Isoetes bolanderi) in Canada
Status Final posting on SAR registry
PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.
10 record(s) found.
- COSEWIC Status Reports (1 record(s) found.)
- COSEWIC Assessments (1 record(s) found.)
- Response Statements (1 record(s) found.)
- Recovery Strategies (1 record(s) found.)
- Action Plans (1 record(s) found.)
- Orders (2 record(s) found.)
- COSEWIC Annual Reports (1 record(s) found.)
- Consultation Documents (1 record(s) found.)
- Critical Habitat Descriptions in the Canada Gazette (1 record(s) found.)
COSEWIC Status Reports
COSEWIC Annual Reports
COSEWIC Annual Report - 2006 (2006)2006 Annual Report to the The Minister of the Environment and the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.
Critical Habitat Descriptions in the Canada Gazette
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