Howellia aquatilis - Gray
Water Howellia
Other Common Names: water howellia
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Howellia aquatilis Gray (TSN 34580)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.136199
Element Code: PDCAM0A010
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Other flowering plants
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Campanulales Campanulaceae Howellia
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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: Howellia aquatilis
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G3
Global Status Last Reviewed: 08Feb2018
Global Status Last Changed: 10Feb2004
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by calculator
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: Endemic to the Pacific Northwest from northern California to Washington to Montana.  Extant populations are mostly clustered in three main population centers, one in Pierce County in western Washington, one in Spokane County in eastern Washington, and one in the Swan Valley in western Montana.  The species has also been found at sites in Mendocino County, California and was rediscovered at one site in western Oregon in 2002.  This is an annual with relatively low genetic variability and populations that vary widely in size from year to year.  The majority of known populations occur on public lands.  Threats have been reduced but still exist; threats include invasive plants, climate change, and alterations to hydrology.
Nation: United States
National Status: N3

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 California (S2), Idaho (S1), Montana (S3), Oregon (S1), Washington (S2)

Other Statuses

U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): LT: Listed threatened (14Jul1994)
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Lead Region: R6 - Rocky Mountain

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Howellia aquatilis is a Pacific Northwest endemic known from northern California (Mendocino County), western Oregon, Washington, northern Idaho, and western Montana (Mincemoyer 2005).   Extant populations are mostly clustered in three main population centers, one in Pierce County in western Washington, one in Spokane County in eastern Washington, and one in the Swan Valley in western Montana (Mincemoyer 2005).

Area of Occupancy: 26-125 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments:  

Number of Occurrences: 81 - 300
Number of Occurrences Comments: Number of extant occurrences is in Washington 67, California 4, Idaho 3, Oregon 2 (NatureServe Network Database as of November 2017).  There are 220 source observations in Montana (Montana Natural Heritage Program 2018).  There are a total of 214 presumed extant occurrences throughout its range (Mincemoyer 2005).

Population Size Comments: "Since abundance varies widely year to year, a single estimate does not provide very meaningful data about a particular population" (Mincemoyer 2005).

Overall Threat Impact: Medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Threats have been reduced since the species was listed but there are still threats from invasive plants (Phalaris arundinacea, Iris pseudacorus, Acorus calamus), climate change, and alterations to hydrology (Lichthardt and Gray 2004; Mincemoyer 2005; USFS 2013).  "Primary threats to water howellia are from changing water levels and invasive species. Consecutive years of drought or exceedingly wet years may negatively affect populations if ponds remain dry or if they do not dry out enough to allow germination in the fall. Monitoring data has shown that populations have the ability to rebound following consecutive years of unfavorable conditions, though seed viability and germination rates are significantly reduced (Mincemoyer 2005).   Other threats include livestock grazing, road construction, habitat conversion, and timber management (Montana Natural Heritage Program 2018; Camp and Gamon 2011). 

Short-term Trend Comments: The rate of loss of vernal pool habitat in California is two to three percent per year (Holland and Jain 1988 cited by Schierenbeck and Phipps 2010).

Long-term Trend: Decline of 30-50%
Long-term Trend Comments: Greater than 90 percent of California vernal pool habitat has been destroyed (Baskin 1994 cited by Schierenbeck and Phipps 2010).

Environmental Specificity: Very narrow. Specialist or community with key requirements scarce.
Environmental Specificity Comments: Vernal, freshwater wetlands and ponds.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: Howellia aquatilis is a Pacific Northwest endemic known from northern California (Mendocino County), western Oregon, Washington, northern Idaho, and western Montana (Mincemoyer 2005).   Extant populations are mostly clustered in three main population centers, one in Pierce County in western Washington, one in Spokane County in eastern Washington, and one in the Swan Valley in western Montana (Mincemoyer 2005).

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 CA, ID, MT, OR, WA

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
CA Humboldt (06023)*, Mendocino (06045), Trinity (06105)*
ID Latah (16057)
MT Lake (30047), Missoula (30063)
OR Benton (41003), Clackamas (41005), Columbia (41009)*, Marion (41047)*, Multnomah (41051)*, Polk (41053)*
WA Clark (53011), Pierce (53053), Spokane (53063), Thurston (53067)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
17 Swan (17010211)+, Upper Spokane (17010305)+, Hangman (17010306)+, Lower Spokane (17010307)+, Palouse (17060108)+, Rock (17060109)+, Lower Columbia-Clatskanie (17080003)+*, Upper Willamette (17090003)+, Middle Willamette (17090007)+, Molalla-Pudding (17090009)+*, Lower Willamette (17090012)+, Upper Chehalis (17100103)+, Nisqually (17110015)+, Puget Sound (17110019)+
18 Middle Fork Eel (18010104)+, Lower Eel (18010105)+*
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: An aquatic annual that grows submerged, rooted in bottom sediments of ponds and sloughs. Leaves are very narrow and about 1-5 cm long. 2 types of flowers are produced - small, inconspicuous flowers beneath the water's surface and larger, white, emergent flowers that appear in July.
General Description: Water Howellia is a glabrous, much-branched, annual, aquatic herb with fragile, submerged and floating stems that are up to 100 cm tall. The simple, alternate or occasionally opposite or whorled stem leaves are narrowly linear, 1-5 cm long, and entire-margined. Beneath the surface of the water, small flowers that produce seeds without opening are solitary in the leaf axils. Once the stems reach the surface, small, white flowers are borne in a narrow, terminal, leafy-bracted inflorescence. The white corolla is 2-3 mm long. Flowering occurs on the surface of the water. The fruit, which forms below the attachment of the petals, is a capsule that is 1-2 cm long containing elongate seeds that are up to 2-4 mm long.
Technical Description: Stem very flaccid and somewhat fistulose, sparingly branched, and up to 7 dm long; leaves narrowly linear-subulate, entire or with a few slender teeth, 2-5 cm long; earlier flowers cleistogamous and in the axils of ordinary, the later on special branches with shorter and more or less verticillate leaves; corollas, when present, whitish or pale lavender, 3 mm long, as long as the linear, obtuse, unequal sepals; capsule clavate, 6-8 mm long. (Peck 1961)
Diagnostic Characteristics: Vegetatively, this species resembles a small-leaved pondweed (POTAMOGETON) or a water starwort (CALLITRICHE), but the flowers in these two groups lack petals, and they have much smaller seeds. During spring and early summer, it also resembles a water-parsnip (SIUM SUAVE); however, the leaves on this plant are in a basal rosette.
Duration: ANNUAL
Ecology Comments: "Waterfowl migration patterns support a hypothesis for avian dispersal as a primary factor in gene flow in Howellia aquatilis" (Schierenbeck and Phipps 2010).
Lacustrine Habitat(s): Shallow water
Palustrine Habitat(s): TEMPORARY POOL
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest/Woodland
Habitat Comments: Small vernal wetlands with firmly consolidated bottoms. These include shallow, low-elevation glacial pothole ponds and former river oxbows with margins of deciduous trees and shrubs. These habitats are inundated by spring rains and snowmelt runoff and typically dry out by the end of the growing season. The plants tend to root in the shallow water at the edges of deeper ponds that are (at lower elevations) surrounded by deciduous trees.
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview:

Prevent alterations to hydrology.  Continue the implementation of management plans and monitoring programs, and protect additional populations (Mincemoyer 2005).  Continue to monitor populations for impacts from invasive plants (especiallyPhalaris arundinacea) and implement invasive plant control measures as needed.  Study the role of forested buffers and their relationship to seed germination, and as protection if precipitation declines and temperataures increase.


Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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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: 08Feb2018
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Shelly, S., & P. Lesica (rev. Heidel/Maybury 5/96), rev. A. Tomaino (2018)
Management Information Edition Date: 08Feb2018
Management Information Edition Author: Tomaino, A.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 18Aug1994
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): MZB

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
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  • Frissell, C. A., J. T. Gangemi, and J. A. Stanford. 1995. Identifying priority areas for protection and restoration of aquatic biodiversity: A case study in the Swan River basin, Montana, USA. Open File Report No. 136-95. Flathead Lake Biological Station, The University of Montana, Polson. 51 pp.

  • Gamon, J. 1992. Report on the status in Washington of Howellia aquatilis Gray. Washington Natural Heritage Program, Olympia. 46 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.

  • Lesica, P. 1990. Habitat requirements, germination behavior and seed bank dynamics of HOWELLIA AQUATILIS in the Swan Valley, Montana. Unpublished report to the Flathead National Forest. Conservation Biology Research, Helena, Montana. 44 pp. plus appendix.

  • Lesica, P. 1990a. Habitat requirements, germination behavior and seed bank dynamics of Howellia aquatilis in the Swan Valley, Montana. Unpublished report to the Flathead National Forest. Conservation Biology Research, Helena, Montana. 44 pp. plus appendix.

  • Lesica, P. 1991. Monitoring HOWELLIA AQUATILIS and PHALARIS ARUNDINACEA at Swan River Oxbow Preserve. Progress report. The Nature Conservancy, Helena, Montana. 7 pp.

  • Lesica, P. 1991b. Monitoring Howellia aquatilis and Phalaris arundinacea at Swan River Oxbow Preserve. Progress report. The Nature Conservancy, Helena, Montana. 7 pp.

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  • Lesica, P. 1992a. Autecology of the endangered plant Howellia aquatilis; implications for management and reserve design. Ecological Applications 2: 411-421.

  • Lesica, P. 1994. Monitoring HOWELLIA AQUATILIS at Swan River Oxbow Preserve: 1993 progress report. Unpublished report prepared for the Montana Nature Conservancy, Helena. 5 pp.

  • Lesica, P. 1994b. Monitoring Howellia aquatilis at Swan River Oxbow Preserve: 1993 progress report. Unpublished report prepared for the Montana Nature Conservancy, Helena. 5 pp.

  • Lesica, P. 1997. Spread of PHALARIS ARUNDINACEA adversely impacts the endangered plant HOWELLIA AQUATILIS. Great Basin Naturalist 57(4): 366-368.

  • Lesica, P. 1997. Spread of Phalaris arundinacea adversely impacts the endangered plant Howellia aquatilis. Great Basin Naturalist, 57(4): 366-368.

  • Lesica, P., R. F. Leary and F. W. Allendorf. 1987. Lack of genetic diversity within and among populations of the rare plant HOWELLIA AQUATILIS. Unpublished report, submitted to The Nature Conservancy, Helena, Montana. 15 pp.

  • Lesica, P., R. F. Leary and F. W. Allendorf. 1987. Lack of genetic diversity within and among populations of the rare plant HOWELLIA AQUATILIS. Unpublished report, submitted to The Nature Conservancy, Helena, Montana. 15 pp.

  • Lesica, P., R. F. Leary, F. W. Allendorf and D. E. Bilderback. 1988. Lack of genetic diversity within and among populations of an endangered plant, HOWELLIA AQUATILIS. Conservation Biology 2(3):275-282.

  • Lesica, P., R.F. Leary, F.W. Allendorf, and D.E. Bilderback. 1988. Lack of genetic diversity within and among populations of an endangered plant, Howellia aquatilis. Conservation Biology 2: 275-282.

  • Lichthardt, J. and K. Gray. 2004. Monitoring of Howellia aquatilis (water howellia) and its habitat at the Harvard-Palouse River Flood Plain Site, Idaho: Fifth-year results. Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Idaho Conservation Data Center, Boise, ID. 10

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  • Rice, D. J. 1990. An application of restoration ecology to the management of an endangered plant, HOWELLIA AQUATILIS. M.S. thesis. Washington State University, Pullman, WA, 85 pp.

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  • Roe, L. S. and J. S. Shelly. 1992. Update to the status review of HOWELLIA AQUATILIS: field surveys, monitoring studies, and transplant experiments. Unpublished report to the Flathead National Forest. Montana Natural Heritage Program, Helena, MT. 51 pp.

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  • Shapley, M. and P. Lesica. 1997. HOWELLIA AQUATILIS (Water Howellia) ponds of the Swan Valley: conceptual hydrologic models and ecological implications. Unpublished report to the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Montana Natural Heritage Program and Conservation Biology Research. Helena. 44 pp.

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