When people think of the Gulf Islands they normally think of dry and rocky ecosystems, but there are actually a significant diversity of wetland habitats throughout the Gulf Islands Archipelago. Mayne Island is somewhat unique for a larger island, in that it currently has little natural year-round standing water, and even the largest streams and seepages become a tiny trickle or dry up completely by the end of the dry season. Prior to the practice of agriculture and the increase in subdivisions on Mayne Island, there would have been much larger and more broadly distributed wetlands. Beavers would have modified the flow of water through larger valleys to create a diversity of wetland habitats.
Today, nearly all of Mayne Islandís wetlands have been drained, ditches collect surface water and direct it into the ocean, and beavers are aggressively discouraged because of their negative impacts on agriculture. Despite the active modification of wetlands, some small natural wetlands persist on Mayne Island, and many man-made ponds have been dug across the island, providing habitat allowing our amphibian populations to persist and in some cases to thrive.
Mayne Island is home to two species of frog, one newt, and one salamander. There are an additional three species of salamander that could be here but havenít been confirmed. Follow the links below to learn more about our wetland loving neighbours:
- Order Anura (Frogs and Toads)
Pacific chorus frog (Pseudacris regilla) (confirmed on Mayne Island)
Red legged frog (Rana aurora) (confirmed on Mayne Island)
- Order Caudata (Salamanders and Newts)
Roughskin Newt (Taricha granulosa) (confirmed on Mayne Island)
Long-toed salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum) (confirmed on Mayne Island)
Ensatina (Ensatina Eschscholtzii) (suspected but not confirmed)
Wandering Salamander (Aneides wagrans) (possible but not confirmed)
Western Redback Salamander (Plethodon idahoensis) (possible but not confirmed)
Pilot Wetland Restoration
MICS has embarked upon their first foray into the world of wetland restoration with a small pilot project. We are currently assisting land owners to restore a small ephemeral pond (a pond that dries seasonally). Through this process we hope to learn the skills and techniques that will allow us to assist and provide advice to additional land owners who are interested in improving wetland habitats on their properties. Some of the techniques we are learning for the current restoration project include:
- Site assessment and restoration prescription
- Baseline measurement and survey
- Establishing a monitoring protocol to detect changes over time
- Contour alteration and water height control through the creation of low benches and installation of an outflow pipe
- Re-introduction of large woody debris
- Re-introduction of native plants
In the winter of 2014/2015 MICS mapped wetland habitats on Mayne Island, including natural wetlands and manmade ponds. We contacted private property owners for permission to map starting in the late fall of 2014. This mapping has given us a better idea of the number of different wetland habitats that are present on Mayne Island and how they are distributed. Such information helps identify priority restoration sites, create opportunities for education and stewardship, and may provide an explanation for increases or decreases in the population of certain species. An example would be the red legged frog, which is considered at risk of extinction (see photo below and info on our Species Home Range page). Little is currently known about the distribution of small wetlands on Mayne Island, most of which occur under forest canopy and are difficult to detect through aerial photo interpretation.