Castilleja aquariensis - N. Holmgren
Aquarius Indian-paintbrush
Other English Common Names: Aquarius Paintbrush
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Castilleja aquariensis N. Holmgren (TSN 501320)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.147176
Element Code: PDSCR0D050
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Figwort Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Scrophulariales Scrophulariaceae Castilleja
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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: Castilleja aquariensis
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G2
Global Status Last Reviewed: 20Jun2016
Global Status Last Changed: 19Jul1991
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by calculator
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: Endemic to the Aquarius Plateau and Boulder Mountain in Utah. Between 30 and 40 occurrences. This species is threatened by grazing animals that trample and kill the plants and they eat the flower buds and plant tops which limits reproductive capacity. Implementation of a 2004 management agreement may substantially reduce impacts from grazing, in addition to measures currently being conducted at Dixie National Forest to mitigate the effects of grazing. Climate change may reduce the suitability of this species current habitat. Updated information on threats and plant numbers post management would be helpful to better assess the conservation status.
Nation: United States
National Status: N2

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 Utah (S2)

Other Statuses

Comments on USESA: In the 2006 Candidate Notice of Review (USFWS 2006), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that listing of this species was not warranted and removed it from the candidate list. Reasons for this action (condensed from the CNOR) were: (1) a recent survey (2004-2005) counted a much higher number of individuals (74,100) then earlier estimates, and (2) we do not have any evidence that factors that could potentially impact the species (off-road vehicle use; wildlife and livestock grazing; predation by pocket gophers, aphids, crickets, and grasshoppers; and low precipitation) pose a significant threat (USFWS 2006).

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Endemic to the Aquarius Plateau, Garfield Co. and Boulder Mountain, Wayne Co., Utah (Groebner 2005). This species forms part of the Septentrionales group in Castilleja, with each species occupying its own plateau with intervening valleys.

Area of Occupancy: 26-125 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: The larger populations occupy areas of about 50 to 1,000+ acres (USFWS, 2004).

Number of Occurrences: 21 - 80
Number of Occurrences Comments: It is not clear how many biological occurrences of this species exist, but all occurrences are in the Dixie National Forest. Studies done in 1990 mapped 34 polygons and in 2005 four new sites were documented in the national forest (pers. comm. J. Stenten).

Population Size Comments: It is estimated that there are 45,000 individuals of this species in a peak year (England 2002). Population numbers can fluctuate between years, ranging from 15,000 to 45,000 (USFWS 2005). Counts by the Forest Service research in Dixie National Forest in 2004 and 2005 record 75,028 individuals (pers. comm. J. Stenten). It should also be noted that plants are very difficult to find when they aren't blooming, and even when walking it is difficult to find and count plants (Groebner 2005). Population numbers recorded when the plant is not flowering are probably underestimates.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Few (4-12)

Overall Threat Impact: High
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Road realignment and other construction related to recreational or timber activities pose potential threats to the species, however, grazing is the greatest threat to this species.

Grazing is the most imminent threat to this species. It has been extensively impacted by domesticated livestock, especially sheep. In areas where sheep are kept the species has nearly been eliminated and where cattle occur it has been reduced greatly in numbers and reproductive vigor (England 2002). Further, the Aquarius Plateau is considered severely overgrazed by biologists, however, efforts to reduce grazing have been thwarted by livestock grazing permittees. Perpetual grazing puts this species at risk for extirpation in much of its range, leaving it to persist only in less accessible relictual habitat (England 2002). Even the populations in relictual habitat are at threat of being over-grazed given the lack of rangeland for forage and the poor quality of available forage (England 2002). Finally, it is stated 'threats to this species is imminent with the current grazing situation, the relative intensity of the threat will change with proposed alternative grazing systems' (England 2002). Implementation of a recent (1996) management agreement may substantially reduce impacts from grazing (USFWS, 2004). The Forest Service is working to mitigate the effects of grazing by livestock by deferring grazing until after seed has set 1 out of every 3 years in some pastures (pers. comm. J. Stenten).

Another potential threat includes possible extirpation of several small historic populations that facilitate genetic exchange for the species. If these smaller populations are lost, the species' genetic potential to adapt to environmental conditions would be lowered (England 2002).

Information from the Forest Service in 2006 indicated that population numbers and vigor were lowest in areas where there is sheep grazing and that other livestock will eat the flowers and seed, but that usually the plants don't die unless trampled. Further, it was observed that plants do seem to persist even when grazed. Precipitation and vigor of populations do appear to be tied because in wetter years the species is present in greater numbers with more seedlings; this hasn't been statistically tested, but rather qualitatively assessed. In drought years the species does experience decline and this is due to herbivory from grasshoppers, crickets and livestock. Gophers also cause damage by burying plants, but this damage is usually localized (pers. comm. J. Stenten).

Other recent threats include unauthorized off-road-vehicle use, concentration of livestock due to water sources, and cricket, grasshopper and aphid infestation. Further still, grazing is still an imminent threat as of 2005 (USFWS 2005). Additional information from the Forest Service indicates that more than 100 miles of roads have been closed in Dixie National Forest, however, construction and maintenance of new roads may be a potential threat. Impacts from non-native species have not been observed and probably aren't an issue given the very high elevations at which this species grows (pers. comm. J. Stenten). Further, while roads in the Dixie National Forest are closing, there is still evidence that the species is impacted by road use. In 2004 and 2005 all but three sites visited showed disturbance related to road use. These specific impacts include open or closed roads running through the site, roads adjacent to sites, pack trails next to the sites and some sites with active ATV use (Groebner 2005).

Short-term Trend: Decline of <30% to relatively stable
Short-term Trend Comments: Population numbers fluctuate over several years, so trends are difficult to assess. However, USFWS (2004) notes that the numbers in the current (ca. 2003) cycle are lower than expected in comparison with the previous cycle (peak count in 1991). The current range is not different from the historical range (S. Welsh, cited by USFWS, 2004).

Studies of this species in exclosures in Dixie National Forest indicate that this species' trends are potentially linked to the weather, and specifically to precipitation. Exclosures were created to research the species when grazing wasn't a threat. In 1991, the C. aquariensis appeared to be more vigorous and greater in number, and in 1996 numbers dropped, and then in later years the species appeared to rebound. In 2004 numbers of the species were down, and then in 2005 numbers were up again. These cycles appear to be related to precipitation (snow pack), and in wetter years the species is more abundant and vigorous, but this hypothesis is qualitative (pers. comm. J. Stenten). Groebner (2005) say the following regarding this hypothesis, 'Due to good snow pack last winter, 2005 was a good flowering year for Castilleja aquariensis'. In years with greater precipitation, a large amount of recruitment was seen and in years of drought, numbers are decreased. Further, in years of drought predation by animals, including grasshoppers, crickets and gophers, is more evident and adds to the decrease in numbers (pers. comm. J. Stenten).

Long-term Trend: Decline of 30-50%
Long-term Trend Comments: Apparently currently stable, disregarding fluctuations, although the historical impacts of grazing presumably reduced numbers of plants at most of its sites.

It is known that grazing by livestock has been occurring in the area for 120 years, and that grazing pressures have been greater than they were pre-settlement. The Forest Service is working to mitigate the effects of grazing (pers. comm. J. Stenten).

Environmental Specificity: Narrow to moderate.
Environmental Specificity Comments: This species is endemic to Utah and occurs on three different volcanic soils at high elevations in the Aquarius Plateau and Boulder Mountain.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: Endemic to the Aquarius Plateau, Garfield Co. and Boulder Mountain, Wayne Co., Utah (Groebner 2005). This species forms part of the Septentrionales group in Castilleja, with each species occupying its own plateau with intervening valleys.

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 UT

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
UT Garfield (49017), Wayne (49055)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
14 Fremont (14070003)+, Escalante (14070005)+
16 East Fork Sevier (16030002)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A perennial herb, 1.5-3 dm tall. Probably somewhat parasitic. Spikes of flowers with pale yellow bracts bloom late June-August (bracts are more conspicuous than the flower petals).
Duration: PERENNIAL
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest - Conifer, Forest/Woodland, Grassland/herbaceous, Shrubland/chaparral, Woodland - Conifer
Habitat Comments: Subalpine sagebrush-grass meadows and openings in spruce communities. Rocky/gravelly soils. 2792-3648 m elevation.
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: A natural occurrence of one or more plants.
Separation Barriers: EOs are separated by either: 1 kilometer or more across unsuitable habitat or altered and unsuitable areas; or 2 kilometers or more across apparently suitable habitat not known to be occupied.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 1 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 2 km
Separation 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 occurrences will eventually be found to be more closely connected. No information on mobility of pollen and propagules is available on which to base the separation distance for this species.
Date: 18Mar2002
Author: Ben Franklin
Population/Occurrence Viability
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Excellent Viability: SIZE: 500 or more individuals (based on available EO data). 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. LANDSCAPE CONTEXT: The occurrence is surrounded by an area that is unfragmented and includes the ecological processes needed to sustain this species. This species is known to be endemic to the inter-forest spaces and broad meadows of the Aquarius Plateau and Boulder Mountain (Tuhy 1991).
Good Viability: SIZE: 100 to 499 individuals (based on available EO data). CONDITION: 100 to 499 individuals (based on available EO data). LANDSCAPE CONTEXT: 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.
Fair Viability: SIZE: The surrounding landscape should contain the ecological processes needed to sustain the occurrence but may be fragmented and/or impacted by humans. CONDITION: 20 to 99 individuals (based on available EO data). LANDSCAPE CONTEXT: 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).
Poor Viability: SIZE: There may be significant human disturbance, but the ecological processes needed to sustain the species are still intact. CONDITION: Less than 20 individuals (based on available EO data). LANDSCAPE CONTEXT: 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.
Justification: SIZE: 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. 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. CONDITION: 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. 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. LANDSCAPE CONTEXT: 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. 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: 20Jun2016
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Roth, E., rev. J. Niese, rev. B. Franklin (1996), rev. L. Oliver (2005), rev. L. Morse (2005), rev. A. Treher (2016)

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
Help
  • 100th Congress. 1988. Endangered Species Act of 1973, appropriations authorization for fiscal years 1988-1992. Public Law 100-478-October 7, 1988 102 STAT.2307-102 STAT.2323.

  • Anderson, J. [1977-8]. Several plants species lists from BLM Cedar City District. Unpaginated [10 pp.].

  • Clark, D.J. 2004. 2004 rare plant survey results. Fishlake National Forest, Supervisor's Office, BLM Richfield Field Office, Capital Reef National Park, and Dixie National Forest, Teasdale Ranger District, UT. 16 pp.

  • Cronquist, A., A.H. Holmgren, N.H. Holmgren, J.L. Reveal, and P.K. Holmgren. 1984. Intermountain Flora: Vascular Plants of the Intermountain West, U.S.A. Vol. 4, Subclass Asteridae (except Asteraceae). New York Botanical Garden, Bronx. 573 pp.

  • England, L. 2002. Candidate and listing priority assignment form: Castilleja aquariensis. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Salt Lake City, Utah.

  • Groebner, C. M. 2005. 2004 and 2005 summary results for the Aquarias paintbrush (Castilleja aquariensis). September 28, 2005. Dixe National Forest, Loa-Teasdale District. Loa, Utah.

  • Groebner, C. M., G. L. Lenhart and C. L. Craig. 2004. 2004 survey results for Aquarius paintbrush (Castilleja aquariensis). Dixie National Forest, Teasdale District, Teasdale, Utah. 8 pp.

  • Holmgren, N. H. 1973. Five new species of Castilleja (Scophulariaceae) from the Intermountain Region. Bull. Torrey Bot. Club 100: 83-93.

  • Hreha, A. M. 1985. Status Report: Castilleja aquariensis. Submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 6, Denver, CO. 20 pp.

  • 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.

  • Thompson, B. 1991. Information on sensitive species of the Manti La-Sal National Forest and elsewhere.

  • Tuhy, J. S. 1991. Castilleja aquariensis N. Holmgren (Aquarius paintbrush) on the Dixie National Forest. Final report for 1990 Challenge Cost Share Agreement No. DIXIE-CCS-90-02. Utah Natural Heritage Program, Salt Lake City, UT. 84 p. + Appendices.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2004. Species assessment and listing priority assignment form. Castilleja aquariensis. 12 pp.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2005. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Review of Native Species That Are Candidates or Proposed for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions; Proposed Rule. Federal Register 70: 24869-24875.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2006. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Review of Native Species That Are Candidates or Proposed for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions. Federal Register 71: 53756-53835.

  • Welsh, S. L. 1978. Status report: Castilleja aquariensis. Unpublished report prepared for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. ?? pp. + attachments [updated May 1980 by M. Chatterley]

  • Welsh, S.L. 1979. Illustrated manual of proposed endangered and threatened plants of Utah. Brigham Young Univ., Provo, UT. 318 pp.

  • Welsh, S.L., N.D. Atwood, S. Goodrich, and L.C. Higgins (eds.) 1993. A Utah flora. 2nd edition. Brigham Young Univ., Provo, Utah. 986 pp.

  • Whittekiend, D.C. 1992. (1) Effects of ungulate grazing on Castilleja aquariensis N. Holmgren (Scrophulariaceae), a central Utah endemic and (2) Notes on pollination of Aquarius paintbrush Castilleja aquariensis N. Holmgren (scrophulariaceae). A thesis presented to the Department of Botany and Range Science, Brigham Young University. In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Master of Science.

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