Friends of Ecological Reserves


FER Board and warden trip to
Comox Lake Bluffs: May 6, 2006


This E.R. features a number of species that are unusual on the coast, being more common in the dry interior of the province.

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comox bluffs

comox bluffs field trip

Chris Pielou guided a number of the FER Board of Directors on a trip to see the Comox Lake Bluffs Ecological Reserve on May 6, 2007.

We drove to the parking lot near the E.R. and then hiked the short distance into the reserve. The first part of the trail winds through Douglas-fir forest in which some blow down from last winter’s storms was evident.

The trail then leads to the open mossy cliffs. A view of the extent of the bluff face.

comox bluffs field trip

Cryptogramma crispa (parsley fern)

Cryptogramma crispa (parsley fern)

At this stage, the trip slows to a snail's pace as the botanists zone in on the rare species.

Cryptogramma crispa (parsley fern) In early branching phase

Cryptogramma crispa In later Branching phase

along the bluffs. Arctostaphylos columbiana (hairy manzanita)


narrow leaf sword fern

Hiking a short distance along the bluffs, Arctostaphylos columbiana (hairy manzanita), Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick) and the hybrid Arctostaphylos x media were observed scattered along the slope.

Saxifraga sp.

Polystichum imbricans (narrow leaved sword fern) as well as Aspidotis densa (Indian’s-dream fern) were located.

Botrychium simplex.

Field Trip Group

This site is reported to support the northern most populations of Lomatium utriculatum (spring-gold). This plant and 3 other Lomatium species are the subject of a study by *Travis Marsico Ph.D. Candidate Department of Biological Sciences.University of Notre Dame, Indiana. (see note below on his research.

Botrychium simplex (Least moonwort.)
This small plant is rare in BC, known only from Vancouver Island, vernal pools and seepage sites- ** Range: see below...

Part of the group at lunch with Chris Pielou.


dirt bike damage.

dirt bike damage.


One serious management problem in the reserve is the presence of dirt bikes on the sensitive vegetation of the rock bluffs. Lichens and mosses abraded from the surface leave scars which will take a long time to recover.

It is hoped that education of members of biking clubs may addess this recurring problem. This close up with highlights shows the damage.

A few large Juniperus scopulorum (Rocky Mountain juniper) trees were evident along with a number of smaller specimens. )


Asplenium trichomanes (maidenhair spleenwort) and Selaginella wallecei (Wallace’s selaginella) were also noted

Thanks to Mike Fenger , Marilyn Lambert and Louise Beinhauer for the photographs and to Evelyn Hamilton for the commentary.

* Travis Marsico: ....
The paragraph below discusses the scientific questions behind my research:
Global climate change has implications for the persistence and distributions of
species. Because range shifts are likely the most important mechanism for
species persistence under rapid anthropogenic climate warming, understanding
limitations to current species&Mac226; range boundaries and predicting the potential
for range shifts is crucial for determining species&Mac226; responses and the role of
biodiversity management. My research addresses limitations to species
distributions for three species in the Lomatium genus that differ in abundance
from rare to common. Field experiments designed to understand limitations to
seedling establishment in current populations and beyond species range
boundaries are used to predict how each Lomatium species will likely respond to
climate change. Additionally, I am conducting a genetic survey to determine
levels of population genetic diversity and isolation. Results from field and
genetic data will be used to model the probability for species migration under
climate change for each of the three study species, focusing on the importance
of abundance for the likelihood of range shifts.

Further note: " I was also successful that day in finding L. utriculatum and
L. nudicuale on Goose Spit in Comox and L. nudicaule farther north along the
beach in Oyster River."

**Range: Scattered in Europe and North America, south to CA, NM and PA. BC range: Southern Vancouver Island (Sooke Hills, Mt. Benson, Port Alberni), Nairn Creek, Crevice Mtn.
Habitat: Vernal Pools, seepage areas
Rare status: R2 BC CDC status: BLUE Status outside: Rare in AB, NS, IL, IA, OR, WY, endangered in IN, WI, threatened in RI. Botrychium simplex also occurs on Texada Island, near Castlegar, and in Rogers Pass (Mount Revelstoke National Park and Glacier National Park). In Rogers Pass, it grows with the rare Hypericum scouleri ssp.nortoniae. There are a number of interesting plants that share a disjunct coastal bluff--inland bluff distribution; the hornwort Anthoceros punctatus and parasitic Orobanche uniflora are among them.-- Patrick Williston

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