Scientific Name: Armeria maritima ssp. interior
Taxonomy Group: Vascular Plants
Last COSEWIC Assessment: May 2002
Last COSEWIC Designation: Special Concern
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Special Concern
Image of Athabasca Thrift
The Athabasca Thrift is a perennial herb. It has a branched woody stock and one to several radiating clusters of leaves growing at ground level (rosettes). Flowering stems may arise from each rosette, and the small flowers are found in a dense, almost round head. The plant grows in small clusters or as occasional individuals.
Distribution and Population
The Athabasca Thrift is found only in northwestern Saskatchewan, in Athabasca Sand Dunes Wilderness Provincial Park. It occurs in three large dune fields along the south shore of Lake Athabasca (known as the William River, Thomson Bay, and MacFarlane River dunes). Exact population numbers and trends for this subspecies are unknown, but there is no evidence to suggest that it has declined in recent years.
The habitat of the Athabasca Thrift is highly localized and fragile. It consists of gravel pavements within areas of active sand dunes. The gravel pavements are caused by wind action on a sandy gravel soil, and are variously known as gravel barrens, sandy-gravel barrens, or sandy till plains covered with gravel. They are uncommon and the vegetation on them is very sparse.
The Athabasca Thrift is one of the most uncommon of 10 plants that are known only from the Lake Athabasca sand dune region. Athabasca Thrift seedlings become established both on gravel pavements and on moist to wet dune slacks (hollows or depressions). Plants growing in dune slacks are young and vigorous; however, they are not able to grow up through sand and eventually become buried by moving dunes and die. Old plants are only found on the relatively stable gravel pavements. Further research on the biology of this unusual plant is needed. The Athabasca Thrift is limited by its small population size and restricted habitat.
The Athabasca Thrift is subjected to multiple potential threats. Tourism is increasing in the area, and the impact of camping by canoeists on its habitat is becoming more significant. Degradation of habitat by all-terrain vehicle traffic is a potential threat in the Uranium City area, despite a ban on use of these vehicles on the dunes. Mining exploration is permitted up to the edge of the park. Seeds have been collected from inside the park, a practice that is incompatible with the protection of the habitat. Overall, the pressures from mining, tourism, recreational use, and other commercial activities are increasing.
Federal ProtectionMore information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.
There is no provincial legislation that provides the Athabasca Thrift with legal protection, but in 1992, the sand dune region on the south shore of Lake Athabasca was officially designated the Athabasca Sand Dunes Wilderness Provincial Park. The park has been zoned into three regions, with the greatest protection given to the William River dune field. All regions have restrictions on camping, use of open fires, collecting plants, use of all-terrain vehicles, and hiking on gravel pavements.
Provincial and Territorial Protection
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.
7 record(s) found.
- COSEWIC Status Reports (1 record(s) found.)
- COSEWIC Assessments (1 record(s) found.)
- Response Statements (1 record(s) found.)
- Management Plans (1 record(s) found.)
- Orders (2 record(s) found.)
- Consultation Documents (1 record(s) found.)
COSEWIC Status Reports
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