Acadia biologist excited at discovery of uncommon fern at West Mabou Seashore

Acadia biologist excited at discovery of uncommon fern at West Mabou Seashore

The record of unusual and endangered plant and animal species present in Nova Scotia’s West Mabou Seashore Provincial Park is rising.

A uncommon fern has been recognized on land within the park, which is on the centre of a contentious proposal for a brand new golf course by Cabot Cape Breton.

In 2018, biologist Alain Belliveau surveyed West Mabou Seashore and located 17 uncommon and endangered animals, crops and lichens within the park, together with 4 birds which can be listed below the provincial Endangered Species Act.

Belliveau, the Irving Biodiversity Assortment supervisor at Acadia College, mentioned he was excited when he just lately acquired affirmation of an 18th after sending footage to a few fern specialists of an upswept moonwort.

“I want I had recognized that 4 years in the past,” he mentioned. “That is a very long time to take a seat on one thing that is such an unimaginable discovery.”

The upswept moonwort usually grows in western North America and has solely been discovered on the East Coast in Newfoundland and New England.

The upswept moonwort discovered at West Mabou Seashore usually grows in western North America and has by no means been discovered within the Maritimes, making it rarer than a species in danger, says Belliveau. (Submitted by Alain Belliveau)

“This species being the one one discovered within the Maritime provinces would simply slot in as a species in danger within the Nova Scotia context,” Belliveau mentioned.

“So in that method it is fairly particular. You might say it is even rarer than a species in danger could be.”

Belliveau mentioned moonworts are notoriously troublesome to acknowledge and might be fussy like orchids, needing a particular fungus to be within the soil to develop.

“I believe they’re extremely delicate species,” he mentioned. “They develop within the soil for some time with this fungal partnership and … from time to time, they’ll ship up some leaves above floor. So 4 years in the past in June, I simply occurred to be there when these leaves had been up and rising out.”

Belliveau mentioned it isn’t but identified which particular fungus the plant must develop or the place the fern got here from.

“We do are inclined to see this a little bit bit extra with species which have tiny seeds or spores,” he mentioned. “They will blow within the wind and canopy actually giant distances, after which it is only a matter of getting fortunate and touchdown in the precise habitat, or touchdown in that habitat that has that fungal companion to let it develop.”

Belliveau says the dune system at West Mabou Seashore appears to include all of the elements wanted to assist the upswept moonwort, together with a particular fungus within the soil. (Submitted by Alain Belliveau)

The discover is important, Belliveau mentioned, as a result of it demonstrates the necessity for persevering with biodiversity surveys.

“A discover like this, we do not make them fairly often today. You possibly can go down into the rainforests within the Amazon and discover new, fascinating issues fairly simply … however new species for the Maritime provinces, these events are few and much between.”

Cabot Cape Breton, which has three different programs in close by Inverness, just lately revived a proposal to lease a part of the park for a brand new 18-hole course.

When the thought was floated again in 2018, the provincial Division of Pure Assets turned down the plan, saying it discovered that elements of the park had been “a precedence ecosystem for conservation.” Ecologists have mentioned a golf course would threaten uncommon crops and birds.

Belliveau wouldn’t weigh in on the proposed golf course, however he mentioned the land is particular.

Belliveau says West Mabou Seashore has nice ecological worth, with a better variety of species in danger than most different locations in Nova Scotia, together with a species that has by no means been discovered within the Maritimes. (Submitted by Alain Belliveau)

“Simply the truth that it has 5 species in danger, which is greater than the overwhelming majority of locations in Nova Scotia, and in addition has a species that has by no means been discovered anyplace else within the Maritime provinces, this places it actually method up the record when it comes to ecological worth.”

As a result of the upswept moonwort requires such particular soil situations, which will embrace the habitat discovered at West Mabou Seashore however not elsewhere in Cape Breton, it possible can not simply be moved and transplanted elsewhere, Belliveau mentioned.