Estuary Vascular Plant Inventory, historical records to present

From Judith Holm, Project Coordinator:

What I am doing

In the Squamish Estuary I am documenting species of vascular plants (and some of the non-vascular plant species) and creating a spreadsheet. The x axis has columns for family, Latin name, English common name, and historical records to present, each with its own column in order to provide the sources of the data. The y axis is alphabetical by species.

Nomenclature is that of the BC Conservation Data Centre, this being the BC standard.

Proof is by photographs. I collect plant specimens for the UBC Herbarium only if needed. Photographs of diagnostic features are particularly useful. When I have sharp photos portraying features which complement those photos already on E-Flora, I upload them. Providing GPS coordinates for a photo allows the E-Flora administrators to mark the species on a distribution map, if my record is helpful in defining the range. The dates of the photographs are a straightforward way to add phenological data. Collected data automatically is entered onto the distribution map of E-Flora in addition to the Herbarium database. If you too would like to submit photographs, see the instructions on the E-Flora website.

In 2015 I also documented numbers and UTM‘s for the blue-listed Henderson`s Checker-mallow (Sidalcea hendersonii) in this Estuary and Quest student Maria Yasel furthered this work for her Keystone Project. I have also begun to investigate possible reasons for the variations I have observed in the flowers.

Rick Avis provided me with his species list of the Somass Estuary in Port Alberni and I have made a spreadsheet to compare my list from the Squamish Estuary. Both estuaries are at a similar latitude and at the end of a long fjord/inlet.

Why?

There is a need. To my knowledge, there has been no central location where one could find previous records of plant species in this Estuary. There are relatively few Squamish Estuary records in the Herbaria. Funding for contracts done for the Squamish River Watershed Society understandably has primarily been for fish-related projects, with the plants secondary and incompletely documented. The strong conservation work that resulted in the Wildlife Management Area also has incomplete plant records.

What I hope to achieve

I hope to acquire some solid baseline data that will be openly available on the SES website, data that has potential to be useful reference material for future researchers including Quest University students.

The deeper understanding of plants and their ecology that comes from being out there over time, observing and appreciating, is important to me. I have fun when sharing these experiences, so I hope this project will also interest others who also love nature and exploration.

Photo by Judith Holm:  Lyngbye’s Sedge (Carex lyngbyei) is often the dominant species in BC’s tidal marshes. When young, this sedge provides an important source of protein for migrating and resident birds and other fauna.