|Parks and Protected Areas
Suffield National Wildlife Area - Species At Risk
Sixteen federally listed species at risk depend on the habitat within the Suffield National Wildlife Area. Nearly 80 provincially listed species are found here as well. You can learn about some of these species below!
The Suffield National Wildlife Area is one of the few places in Canada where this small biennial plant with white flowers occurs. Between 10 and 35 centimetres in height, the Slender Mouse-ear-cress belongs to the mustard family. It is endemic to western North America. Its range in Canada is limited to a very small area in southeastern Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan.
Slender Mouse-ear-cress grows on shortgrass to midgrass prairie. It favours flat prairie or eroded hillsides with dry, sandy, alkaline soil. In Canada, loss of habitat due to agriculture, urban encroachment and industrial development is the main threat to this species.
Where to find the Slender Mouse-ear-cress:
Few are lucky enough to spot the imperiled Tiny Cryptanthe in Canada. This is because much of its habitat has been lost to urban development and conversion of mixed grass prairie to cropland. It is estimated that there are fewer than 100 plants in Canada.
Tiny Cryptanthe is an annual species. It grows up to 20 centimetres in height, and has miniscule white flowers in June and July. It can be found in sandy native grassland within river valleys or nearby uplands. It favours areas where the soil has been disturbed naturally by wind, water, gravity and animals.
Tiny Cryptanthe is only found at four sites along the South Saskatchewan River. Three of these sites are in Alberta. The largest of these is in the eastern portion of the Suffield National Wildlife Area. The fourth site is in Saskatchewan. Tiny Cryptanthe also has spotty distribution in the Great Plains of the United States.
Where to find the Tiny Cryptanthe:
The Small-flowered Sand-verbena has amazing adaptations that allow it to tolerate its arid environment. For example, its extremely hardy seeds can lie dormant for up to three years while waiting for favourable growing conditions. Each seed has two or three thin, papery wings that carry it on wind and water. As a result, this annual is unlikely to be found in exactly the same spot each year.
This plant grows to between 20 and 50 centimetres, and has striking greenish-white flowers that tend to open in the late afternoon. As its name suggests, it favours hard-packed, fine sand on level ground, but can also be spotted on slopes and ridge tops of dunes.
A species of Western North America, its range in Canada is almost entirely limited to southeastern Alberta. It has been found at only one site in Saskatchewan, just east of the Alberta border.
This endangered plant requires drifting sand. Dune stabilization is therefore robbing it of its habitat. So too are alien invasive weeds and other plants, which are flourishing on dunes because the absence of fire and decreased grazing mean less unstable sand. Cultivation around existing populations of Small-flowered Sand-verbena is decreasing its ability to spread naturally.
Where to find the Small-flowered Sand-verbena: