Environmental Factors Responsible For The Disappearance Of The Drooping Trillium

2607 words - 10 pages

Background Information:
Trillium flexipes, more commonly known as the Drooping Trillium, is currently listed as an endangered species in both Ontario in 2008, and Canada in 1996. The Drooping Trillium is a perennial herb and is a member of the lily family (Jalava and Ambrose 2012). In Canada, Drooping Trillium grows only in southwestern Ontario in warmer climates. Currently there are only two locations in the province in which it exists, but there were once six known locations (Ministry of Natural Resources 2013).
The Drooping Trillium prefers to grow in rich beech-maple, oak-hickory or mixed deciduous swamps and floodplain forests which are usually associated with watercourses. It is thought that the presence of a watercourse could benefit the plant by creating well-drained soils that combine both loam and sand which the species favours (Jalava and Ambrose 2012). It grows on the forest floor with native plants including Ostrich Fern, Wild Ginger and Jack-in-the-pulpit (Ministry of Natural Resources 2013). Forest-canopy cover is important to the survival of the Drooping Trillium by maintaining ground flora as well as reducing competition with other species; however the penetration of some light is beneficial to this species (Jalava and Ambrose 2012). Drooping Trillium seeds are found to be dispersed by ants and possibly by white-tailed deer (Ministry of Natural Resources 2013).
The main threat to this species is habitat loss, and it can be accounted for most of the population losses in Ontario. Other threats to the species include invasive species, such as garlic mustard, and possibly herbivory from white-tailed deer populations (Jalava and Ambrose 2012). Garlic mustard is a non-native invasive species that may be currently a threat to the two remaining populations in Ontario (Royal Ontario Museum 2008). White-tailed deer populations were found to cause a 50% reduction in the reproduction of trillium plants during the growing season. The protection of the plants from the deer led to increased flowering rates and significantly greater leaf area in comparison to the control plants (Augustine and Frelich 1998).

Research Objectives and Questions:
With this study I want to observe the effects that abiotic factors such as soil type and canopy cover have on the Drooping Trillium, as well as biotic factors such as herbivory from white-tailed deer and competition from the garlic mustard invasive plant species. The garlic mustard invasive plant species poses a threat to the current existing populations of the Drooping Trillium. It poses this threat because of increased competition for ecological resources between the two species (Jalava and Ambrose 2012). There are few studies that have been done which focus on the diminishing population of the Drooping Trillium. Within them, most have focused on habitat loss from forestry practices and urban development. In Bratton et al.’s study in 1994 the researchers focused on urban and agricultural development...

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