Aletes humilis - Coult. & Rose
Larimer Aletes
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Aletes humilis Coult. & Rose (TSN 29574)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.128703
Element Code: PDAPI03040
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Carrot Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Apiales Apiaceae Aletes
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Aletes humilis
Taxonomic Comments: Although there is disagreement among taxonomists about how the genus Aletes should be circumscribed, there is apparently no evidence that A. humilis is not a good species (Theobald et al. 1964, Weber 1984). Aletes humilis looks like A. acaulis; A.acaulis forms loose clumps, with flowers taller than the leaves (Spackman et al. 1997).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G2G3
Global Status Last Reviewed: 19Nov2015
Global Status Last Changed: 23Oct1995
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by calculator
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: There are 39 occurrences in a restricted area of Colorado, possibly extending into southern Wyoming (although only 1 possible Wyoming collection, made in the 1890s, is known). Most occurrences are good-sized; at least 1 has over 10,000 individuals. The plants are probably somewhat protected by their inaccessible habitat, but the impacts of recreational uses including off-road vehicles should be monitored. One large population is protected on a Nature Conservancy preserve.
Nation: United States
National Status: N2N3

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Colorado (S2S3), Wyoming (SH)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Endemic to Colorado (Boulder and Larimer counties). There is one historic occurrence from Wyoming near the Colorado-Wyoming border (Moore and Friedley 2004).  In Colorado the estimated range is 1,403 square kilometers (542 square miles), calculated in GIS by drawing a minimum convex polygon around the known occurrences.

Area of Occupancy: 26-125 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: The total occupied habitat is about 286 acres. Occurrences without specific information on occupied habitat were considered to occupy 0.5 acre.

Number of Occurrences: 21 - 80
Number of Occurrences Comments: There are 39 principal occurrences documented in the Colorado Natural Heritage Program database. One of the 39 occurrences has not been observed in over twenty years (as of 2006).

Population Size Comments: Total estimated sum of individuals is at least 15,000. At least one occurrence of 10,000 or more individuals. All occurrences report 100 or more, several with 300 or more.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Some (13-40)
Viability/Integrity Comments: There are 32 occurrences with good to excellent viability.

Overall Threat Impact: Low
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Recreational uses are considered to be the primary threat to the species at this time (CNHP Scorecard 2006, Scully 2011). Overall, the threats appear to be limited due to the remote and inaccessible locations of many of its occurrences. Several occurrences mention off road vehicle trails in occurrence area; impact not known. Perhaps the greatest threat is inadvertent destruction by hikers and rock-climbers. One population is protected at The Nature Conservancy's Phantom Canyon Preserve. Another population occurs atop Greyrock Mountain, a popular hiking destination on US Forest Service land; however, inspections of plants at this site did not reveal evidence of destruction of the plants by visitors (Carpenter and Neely personal observations), however, in 2011 a lot of forest thinning was taking place around two monitored plots where this species occurs (Scully 2011). Other management activities to influence A. humilis are prescribed fire, recreation, and grazing. Occurrences located in sparsely vegetated habitats would not be directly impacted by fire due to the minimal fuels available in these types of habitats. Occurrences located in forest duff could be directly impacted by prescribed fire. Palatability of A. humilis has not been documented; however, the plant's low stature, sparsely vegetated locations, and steeply sloped habitats may provide some protection from herbivory. Secondary grazing impacts from changes in plant species composition (including spread of invasive species), soil compaction, and erosion may still be important (Moore and Friedly 2004). A proposed water development project near Greyrock Mountain could have adverse indirect effects on that population.  Finally, A. humilis has been assessed by botany staff at the Colorado Natural Heritage Program using the Climate Change Vulnerability Index to be Extremely Vulnerable to climate change.

Short-term Trend: Decline of <30% to relatively stable
Short-term Trend Comments: In 2006, element occurrence quality appears to be excellent overall. Individuals in the populations appear to be vigorous, flowering is abundant, and at least some seed production occurs. It is unknown if populations are increasing or decreasing in numbers. The populations are small to moderate, with numbers of individuals ranging from about 50 (Greyrock Mountain) to at least 1000 in some populations (Phantom Canyon, Virginia Dale).  After five years of monitoring, the trend appears to be stable (Carpenter and Schulz, pers. comm.).

In 2011, plots in the Arapahoe National Forest were monitored again for the first time since 1995, and an overall decline of 16% in plant coverage was estimated but the number of plants was the same (Scully 2011).  Numerous senescent and dead plants were found in one plot, and in another the decline is suspected to be from logging activities (Scully 2011).

Long-term Trend: Unknown

Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: Unknown.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: Endemic to Colorado (Boulder and Larimer counties). There is one historic occurrence from Wyoming near the Colorado-Wyoming border (Moore and Friedley 2004).  In Colorado the estimated range is 1,403 square kilometers (542 square miles), calculated in GIS by drawing a minimum convex polygon around the known occurrences.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States CO, WY

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
CO Boulder (08013), Larimer (08069)
WY Albany (56001)*
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
10 St. Vrain (10190005)+, Big Thompson (10190006)+, Cache La Poudre (10190007)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A perennial herb that forms low mounds of leathery leaves, 2-10 cm high, and produces clusters of small, bright yellow flowers in April and May.
Technical Description: Aletes humilis is a member of the parsley family (Apiaceae). The following description is largely from Theobald et al. (1964). Aletes humilis grows in cushions 2-10 cm high and about 5-20 cm in diameter. During the growing season, the plants are bright green. The leaves are once or twice pinnate, oblong in outline with blades 1.8-3.2 cm long and 1-2 cm broad and with sharp teeth. The flowers are bright yellow. The peduncles are 0.8-4 cm long, shorter than the leaves, causing the inflorescence to be borne among the leaves. The bracts of the involucre are usually absent, rays 3-5 and spreading. The pedicels are 5-7 in number and are 1-2 mm long. The fruits are oblong to ovoid-oblong, 2-5 mm long and 0.8-2 mm wide, the ribs obscure.
Diagnostic Characteristics: A. humilis could possibly be confused with Heuchera species in the vegetative state, which also grow on steep cliffs. However, the leaves of Heuchera plants are not as tightly bunched nor are they as green, plus they are more or less orbicular with regular, coarse teeth on the margins. Additional descriptions of A. humilis are found in Coulter and Rose (1900) and in Harrington (1954).
Reproduction Comments: A. humilis flowers March to June, fruits May to July.
Ecology Comments: There is no known published information about the biology or ecology of A. humilis, other than descriptions of the plant in taxonomic papers. Like other members of the Apiaceae, it is likely pollinated by a variety of insects. It does not appear in early-successional habitats. The vast majority of plants appear to be mature; seedlings are evidently rare or episodic. Plants do not appear to be "weedy," and thus may be relatively long-lived. Densities of plants are low, on the order of several plants per square meter, although quantitative data are lacking.
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Bare rock/talus/scree, Cliff, Forest - Conifer, Forest/Woodland
Habitat Comments: Cracks and crevices in granite cliffs and rock outcrops. Also in pine duff under ponderosa pines (Pinus ponderosa). Usually on north-facing cliffs or shaded by pines. Plants grow on level ground, steep slopes, and canyon walls. It is found on course-textured soils, derived from Silver Plume granite. Annual precipitation is most likely on the order of 300 to 500 mm (12-29 inches). 1980-2300 m elevation.
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Aletes humilis is known from 39 occurrences, one of which is protected at The Nature Conservancy's Phantom Canyon Preserve. This plant grows on sites derived from Silver Plume granite, mostly in cracks in massive rocks or between boulders. Threats are limited but one main stewardship need is to keep visitors away from the plants that occur near trails heads and other recreation areas.  Very little is known about the population biology and ecology of A. humilis and research is needed in these areas. There is need to initiate a research project with population geneticists at the University of Colorado.  More frequent monitoring is warranted to better understand why plants in research plots on U.S. National Forest service land are dormant or dead.  Another reason for more frequent monitoring is to document any changes to the populations or individual plants that might be due to climate change, as this species was assessed to be 'extremely vulnerable' to climate change by the CO Natural Heritage Program.
Restoration Potential: Because the known occurrences are mostly in excellent condition, they are apparently not in need of restoration. A thorough inventory is needed to determine the distribution of A. humilis.
Management Requirements: There is no need for any intervention type of management at this time. The main management strategy is to keep hikers and other foot traffic away from the plants. Because The Nature Conservancy has close control over all visitors at Phantom Canyon, this strategy should be easy to implement.
Monitoring Requirements: This element should be monitored, mainly because nothing is known about its population biology or ecology. We do not know if populations are waxing or waning. Monitoring would not provide information about the efficacy of the preferred management strategy at Phantom Canyon (simply keeping people and livestock away from the plants to prevent trampling) because other locations undergoing different management regimes will not be monitored.

Monitoring should be centered on determining the longevity of the plants, the population trend over time, and how fast the plants grow from year to year at Phantom Canyon. I recommend tagging individual plants at each of the five sub-locations at Phantom Canyon and following these plants over several years.


Management Programs: At Phantom Canyon Preserve, visitors will not be allowed to walk around in the vicinity of the plants. This will be accomplished by guiding all visitors (except some visiting scientists) on field trips, nature walks, etc. at the preserve.
Monitoring Programs: A monitoring program was begun, on a pilot basis, at the Phantom Canyon Preserve in December 1988. It will be expanded beginning in April 1989. The Colorado Land Steward, Alan Carpenter, will be in charge of the monitoring.
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Any naturally occurring population that is separated by a sufficient distance or barrier from a neighboring population. As a guideline, EOs are separated by either: 1 mile or more across unsuitable habitat or altered and unsuitable areas; or 2 miles or more across apparently suitable habitat not known to be occupied. Justification: The rationale for this large a separation distance across suitable but apparently unoccupied habitat is that it is likely additional research will find this habitat to be occupied. It can often be assumed that apparently unconnected populations will eventually be found to be more closely connected; these are best regarded as suboccurrences. No information on mobility of pollen and propagules is available on which to base the separation distance for this species.
Date: 27Sep2000
Author: Spackman, S., and D. Anderson.
Population/Occurrence Viability
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Excellent Viability: Size: 500 or more individuals (based on available EOR data). Area of occupancy may be five or more acres for A-ranked occurrences, but high quality occurrences may justifiably be A-ranked even if they occupy a smaller area. Condition: the occurrence has an excellent likelihood of long-term viability as evidenced by the presence of multiple age classes and evidence of flowering and fruiting, indicating that the reproductive mechanisms are intact. This occurrence should be in a high-quality site with less than 1% cover of exotic plant species and/or no significant anthropogenic disturbance. The best sites are likely to be rock outcrops that are fairly inaccessible, with numerous cracks for the plants to colonize; however, plants in some high quality occurrences are found in duff on the forest floor. Landscape Context: the occurrence is surrounded by an area that is unfragmented and includes the ecological processes needed to sustain this species. Justification: Large populations in high quality sites are presumed to contain a high degree of genetic variability, to have a low susceptibility to the effects of inbreeding depression, and to be relatively resilient.
Good Viability: Size: 200 or more individuals (based on available EOR data). Condition: the occurrence should have a good likelihood of long-term viability as evidenced by the presence of multiple age classes and evidence of flowering and fruiting, indicating that the reproductive mechanisms are intact. Anthropogenic disturbance within the occurrence is minimal. If exotic species are present, they comprise less than 10% of the total ground cover. Landscape Context: the surrounding landscape should contain the ecological processes needed to sustain the occurrence but may be fragmented and/or impacted by humans.
Fair Viability: Size: 10 to 200 individuals (based on available EOR data). Condition: The occurrence may be less productive than the above situations, but is still viable, with multiple age classes and evidence of flowering and fruiting, indicating that the reproductive mechanisms are intact. The occupied habitat is somewhat degraded (exotic plant species make up between 10-50% of the total ground cover and/or there is a moderate level of anthropogenic disturbance). Landscape Context: there may be significant human disturbance, but the ecological processes needed to sustain the species are still intact.
Poor Viability: Size: Less than 10 individuals (based on available EOR data). Condition: little or no evidence of successful reproduction is observed (poor seedling recruitment, no flowering or fruiting observed, or poor age class distribution). Exotic plant species make up greater than 50% of the total ground cover, and/or there is a significant level of human disturbance. Landscape context: the surrounding area is fragmented with many ecological processes no longer intact. The occurrence has a low probability of long-term persistence due to inbreeding depression, natural stochastic events, and its intrinsic vulnerability to human impacts.
Justification: Justification: EOs not meeting "C"-rank criteria are likely to have a very high probability of inbreeding depression and extirpation due to natural stochastic processes and/or occur in degraded habitat with low long-term potential for survival.
Key for Ranking Species Element Occurrences Using the Generic Approach (2008).
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 16Dec2015
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Edmondson, L. (1983), Alan Carpenter (1989), rev. L. Morse (1995), rev. Maybury/Spackman (1996), rev. Spackman, S. and D. Anderson (2000), rev. S. Spackman Panjabi (2006), rev. L. Oliver (2015)
Management Information Edition Date: 15Feb1989
Management Information Edition Author: ALAN CARPENTER
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 15Feb1989
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): ALAN CARPENTER

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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