UBC Undergraduate Research

Tracking Salal (Gaultheria shallon) and Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata) Dieoff in Pacific Spirit Regional Park Fisher, Benjamin; Kim, Justin; Campbell, Matthew; Tudor, Harry


In the spring of 2019, multiple citizens raised concerns of western red cedar (Thuja plicata) and salad (Gaultheria shallon) disease and death in Pacific Spirit Regional Park (PSRP), Vancouver, B.C. Upon investigation by Metro Vancouver Parks staff, a few cases of such die off was confirmed. The purpose of this observational study was to identify and record the current extent of die-off of both western red Cedar and salal. The study also aimed to determine spatial trends of disease and die-off that might indicate the types of further research required, such as research into hydrology, topography, and soil structure. The geographic location and physical characteristics of each dying plant within view of existing trail infrastructure was collected, with the trails acting as transects. The data has been synthesized into the form of a Google MyMap™, which was made available to staff at Metro Vancouver Regional Parks and can be disseminated to organizations affiliated with the park, so that they may assess and compare population changes in the future. Although analysis of salal data was ultimately not conducted in this report due to low sample size, general trends for western red cedar indicate a higher concentration of disease and mortality near the eastern edge of the park possibly associated with disturbance in the form of residential construction, as well as near other localized sites of human disturbance of topography and soils. For example, concentrations of disease seem to exist near the Metro Vancouver Camosun drinking water reservoir, and near mounds of clay, gravel, concrete, or asphalt possibly deposited during trail construction or construction of UBC campus facilities such as the Sedgewick library. These findings should be taken as indications for further research, as no hypothesis testing was performed during this study. Initial findings suggest a review of construction and development practices in and around Pacific Spirit Regional Park, including appropriate removal and past and present construction related wastes and continued development of vegetation and soil restoration capacity.

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