Notice of permit

Regional or Local Number: BAN-2017-23516

Notice is hereby given that pursuant to the provisions of section 74 of the Species at Risk Act permit no. BAN-2017-23516 is issued.

Scientific research for the conservation of the species

The activity is to test genetic variation of Physella johnsoni for the purpose of knowing whether or not they are genetically distinct from other common Physella species (for example, Physella gyrina). Secondly, the project aims to determine how much genetic divergence there is among hydrologically disconnected thermal springs. The results of this research will inform Parks Canada’s risk assessment of contemporary threats and the viability of translocations to mitigate these risks. We are sampling 40 individual snails from each population during the annual population highs. This will temporarily decrease the effective population size, however, each population undergoes a much larger population bottle-neck in the spring when they naturally decline by 20-94% (depending on the spring).

Start Date: 2017-01-01   End Date: 2018-03-31

Issuing Authority: Parks Canada Agency

Authority Used:

  • Species at Risk Act
  • Canada National Parks Act

Location of Activity (province, territory or ocean):

  • Alberta

Affected Species:

a)All reasonable alternatives to the activity that would reduce the impact on the species have been considered and the best solution has been adopted: Non-lethal methods have been considered and even tried as a pilot project. Parks Canada and the University of Calgary undertook a pilot project to non-lethally extract DNA from the pedal mucous of Physella johnsoni. However, this technique requires prolonged handling of the animal and an additional amount of work would be needed to perfect the technique. We decided that the time, effort and funds needed to perfect the non-lethal sampling technique was better spent on achieving the genetics results using lethal sampling. Furthermore, there was no way to mitigate the prolonged handling. The answers to the research questions will inform mitigation strategies for threats such as thermal spring drying as well as better understanding Physella johnsoni life history in general. b)All feasible measures will be taken to minimize the impact of the activity on the species or its critical habitat or the residences of its individuals: Given the need to sample lethally, we will strategically sample during the annual population highs. These animals undergo natural population cycles; seasonal fluctuations with up to 94% increases in snail populations occur in the winter every year. Forty individuals represents only 0.5-3% of the populations (depending on the spring). Therefore, we will not cause population-level effects as these populations will undergo a much larger population bottle-neck in the spring when they naturally decline by 20-94% (depending on the spring). Furthermore, the loss of these sampled individuals would be a one-time impact rather than a persistent impact on the population. Potential damage to critical habitat from researcher trampling during sampling will be mitigated by following designated trails to the site and accessing pools from the dry. c)The activity will not jeopardize the survival or recovery of the species: Overall, the proposed research is consistent with Recovery Objective #3, increasing knowledge and understanding of snail ecology. This genetic analysis will help refine our understanding as to just how unique Physella johnsoni is. Furthermore, in order to restore self-sustaining populations (Objective #2), Parks Canada needs to define what a population of Physella johnsoni actually is. Genetic divergence among the individual thermal spring populations would preclude Parks Canada from using translocations as a tool to recover populations as mixing could dilute genetic variation.

Contact Person(s)
Parks Canada
Species Conservation and Management
Natural Resource Conservation
Parks Canada
30 Victoria Street 3rd floor
Gatineau, QC
J8X 0B3
Tel: 888-773-8888
Fax: 819-420-9273