Recovery Strategy for the Channel Darter (Percina copelandi) in Canada

Channel Darter

Table of contents

List of figures

  • Figure 1. Channel Darter (Percina copelandi).
  • Figure 2. Global distribution of the Channel Darter.
  • Figure 3. Channel Darter distribution in Canada.
  • Figure 4. Channel Darter distribution in southwestern Ontario.
  • Figure 5. Channel Darter distribution in eastern Ontario.
  • Figure 6. Channel Darter distribution in Quebec.
  • Figure 7. Boundaries of the area within which critical habitat of the Channel Darter is found within Little Rideau Creek/Ottawa River.
  • Figure 8. Boundaries of the area within which critical habitat of the Channel Darter is found in the Trent, Moira (Black and Skootamatta) and Salmon rivers.
  • Figure 9. Boundaries of the area within which critical habitat of the Channel Darter is found in the Trent River
  • Figure 10. Boundaries of the area within which critical habitat of the Channel Darter is found in the Moira River and Black River.
  • Figure 11. Boundaries of the area within which critical habitat of the Channel Darter is found in the Skootamatta River.
  • Figure 12. Boundaries of the area within which critical habitat of the Channel Darter is found in the Salmon River.
  • Figure 13. Boundaries of the area within which critical habitat of the Channel Darter is found in Lake Erie at Point. Pelee.
  • Figure 14. Boundaries of the area within which critical habitat of the Channel Darter is found in the Gatineau River.
  • Figure 15. Boundaries of the area within which critical habitat of the Channel Darter is found in the L’Assomption River and its tributary, the Ouareau River.
  • Figure 16. Boundaries of the area within which critical habitat of the Channel Darter is found in the Richelieu River
  • Figure 17. Boundaries of the area within which critical habitat of the Channel Darter is found in the Saint-François River.
  • Figure 18. Boundaries of the area within which critical habitat of the Channel Darter is found in the Trout, aux Outardes and des Anglais rivers.

List of tables

  • Table 1. Global, national and sub-national heritage status ranks for the Channel Darter (NatureServe 2012).
  • Table 2. Population status and associated certainty of individual Channel Darter populations in Canada.
  • Table 3a. Threat status and certainty (), by population, for Channel Darter in Ontario by drainage.
  • Table 3b. Threat status and certainty (), by population, for Channel Darter in Quebec by hydrographic region and drainage.
  • Table 4. Recovery planning table - research approaches.
  • Table 5. Recovery planning table - monitoring approaches.
  • Table 6. Recovery planning table  - management and coordination approaches.
  • Table 7. Recovery planning table - protection, restoration and stewardship approaches.
  • Table 8. Recovery planning table - communication and public awareness approaches.
  • Table 9a. Essential functions, features and attributes of critical habitat for each life stage of the Channel Darter for Ontario*.
  • Table 9b. Essential functions, features and attributes of critical habitat for all life stages of the Channel Darter for Quebec*.
  • Table 10a. Coordinates locating the boundaries within which critical habitat is found for the Channel Darter at seven locations within Ontario.
  • Table 10b. Coordinates locating the boundaries within which critical habitat is found for the Channel Darter at eight locations within Quebec.
  • Table 11a. Comparison of the area of river segments and lake areas in which critical habitat can be found (km²) for each Channel Darter location in Ontario, relative to the estimated minimum area for population viability (MAPV)*.
  • Table 11b. Comparison of the area of river segments in which critical habitat can be found (km²) for each Channel Darter location in Quebec, relative to the estimated minimum area for population viability (MAPV)*.
  • Table 12. Schedule of studies to identify critical habitat.
  • Table 13. Human activities likely to result in the destruction of critical habitat for Channel Darter. The affect pathway for each activity is provided as well as the potential links to the biophysical functions, features, and attributes of critical habitat.

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Channel Darter

Recommended citation:
DFO. 2013. Recovery Strategy for the Channel Darter (Percina copelandi) in Canada. Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series. Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa. viii + 83 pp.

For copies of the recovery strategy, or for additional information on species at risk, including COSEWIC Status Reports, residence descriptions, action plans, and other related documents, see the Species at Risk Public Registry.

Cover illustration: Courtesy of George Coker

Également disponible en français sous le titre
« Programme de rétablissement du fouille-roche gris (Percina copelandi) au Canada »

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, 2013. All rights reserved.
ISBN En3-4/171-2013E-PDF
Cat. no. 978-1-100-22718-4

Content (excluding the illustrations) may be used without permission, with appropriate credit to the source.

Preface

The federal, provincial, and territorial government signatories under the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk (1996) agreed to establish complementary legislation and programs that provide for effective protection of species at risk throughout Canada.  Under the Species at Risk Act (S.C. 2002, c.29) (SARA) the federal competent ministers are responsible for the preparation of recovery strategies for listed Extirpated, Endangered, and Threatened species and are required to report on progress within five years.

The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada is one of two competent ministers for the recovery of the Channel Darter. Due to the presence of Channel Darter in the Trent Severn Waterway, the Minister of the Environment, the minister responsible for Parks Canada Agency, is also a competent minister under SARA.  Fisheries and Oceans Canada has prepared this strategy, as per section 37 of SARA, in cooperation with many individuals, organizations and government agencies, including the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, Parks Canada Agency, the Ontario Freshwater Fish Recovery Team, and the Quebec Recovery Team “Équipe de rétablissement des cyprinidés et petits percidés du Québec” (see Appendix D for list of Channel Darter Recovery Team members).

Success in the recovery of this species depends on the commitment and cooperation of many different constituencies that will be involved in implementing the directions set out in this strategy and will not be achieved by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, or any other jurisdiction alone.  All Canadians are invited to join in supporting and implementing this strategy for the benefit of the Channel Darter and Canadian society as a whole.

Implementation of this strategy is subject to appropriations, priorities, and budgetary constraints of the participating jurisdictions and organizations.  This recovery strategy will be followed by one or more action plans that will provide information on recovery measures to be taken by Fisheries and Oceans Canada and other jurisdictions and/or organizations involved in the conservation of the species.

Acknowledgements

Fisheries and Oceans Canada would like to acknowledge a number of individuals who have helped directly or indirectly in the development of this strategy: Amy Boyko (DFO – Central and Arctic Region), Jacinthe Beauchamp (DFO – Quebec Region), Daniel Hardy (DFO – Quebec Region), the Ontario Freshwater Fish Recovery Team, and the Quebec Recovery Team “Équipe de rétablissement des cyprinidés et petits percidés du Québec”.  Carolyn Bakelaar (DFO) helped in the preparation of the maps; Andréanne Demers (DFO) contributed to the harmonization of the English and French versions of this document; Jean Dubé assisted with some of the research details.  Recognition also goes to Erling Holm of the Royal Ontario Museum who has contributed his expertise to a number of studies that formed the basis of this recovery strategy, and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources staff, D. Jacobs, S.M. Reid and J. Brownlee, who contributed to earlier versions of the recovery strategy up to 2009.

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Executive Summary

The Channel Darter is a small, benthic fish with a widespread but extremely disjunct distribution ranging west of the Appalachian Mountains from Louisiana north through 15 American states, and into Ontario and Quebec.  In Ontario, the Channel Darter can be found along the shores of Lake Erie, and in the drainages of Lake St. Clair, the Ottawa River, and the Bay of Quinte.  In Quebec, the species is found in the St. Lawrence River and also in tributaries of four hydrographic regions: Ottawa and Montreal, the southwest St. Lawrence, southeast St. Lawrence, and the northwest St. Lawrence.

The Channel Darter has been designated as Threatened in Canada by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and is listed on Schedule 1 of the federal Species at Risk Act.  In Canada, this species is threatened by habitat loss and degradation (e.g., shoreline modifications, altered flow regimes, barriers to movement, turbidity and sediment loading, contaminants and toxic substances), the introduction of invasive species and diseases, and possibly baitfish harvesting.  In recent years, new populations have been discovered in Ontario and Quebec, but this is most likely attributable to increased sampling effort, rather than a range expansion.  One population in Ontario and many populations in Quebec are presumed extirpated.  Recent sampling suggests that populations in Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair are in decline.

The long-term recovery objective (> 20 years) for the Channel Darter is to maintain existing populations in Ontario and Quebec and restore self-sustaining populations to formerly occupied habitats, where feasible.  In some locations, permanent changes in the fish community, as a result of the establishment of invasive species, may impact the feasibility of re-establishing Channel Darter populations.

According to the recovery potential assessment, ten discrete viable populations are required to reduce the risk of Channel Darter extinction in Canada.  Based on data available when this recovery strategy was developed (surveys conducted up to 20091), the population and distribution objectives for the Channel Darter in Canada are to ensure the survival of self-sustaining population(s) at the following ten locations:

  • Ontario: Little Rideau Creek/Ottawa River, Trent River, Moira River/Black River/Skootamatta rivers, Salmon River, and Lake Erie (Point Pelee area)
  • Quebec: Gatineau River, L’Assomption River/Ouareau River, Richelieu River, Saint-François River, and des Anglais River/aux Outardes Est River/Trout River/Châteauguay rivers.

The recovery team has identified a variety of approaches to ensure that these objectives are met.  These approaches have been broadly organized into five categories: 1) Research; 2) Monitoring; 3) Management and Coordination; 4) Protection, Restoration and Stewardship; and, 5) Communication and Public Awareness.  Some recovery activities that could be completed under these approaches include: additional research into the habitat requirements and life history of the species; the survey of historical Channel Darter locations or target surveys of extant of suspected populations; a flow needs assessments to determine impacts of water management on the species; the restoration of existing Channel Darter habitat; and, improvement in communication with resource users to increase awareness of habitat use by Channel Darter.

Using the best available information at the time this recovery strategy was developed (surveys conducted up to 2009), critical habitat has been identified in Ontario and Quebec at the following locations:

  • Ontario: Little Rideau Creek/Ottawa River, Trent River, Moira/Black/Skootamatta rivers, and Salmon River, as well as Lake Erie (Point Pelee area).
  • Quebec: Gatineau River, L’Assomption River/Ouareau River, Richelieu River, Saint-François River, and des Anglais River/aux Outardes Est River/Trout River/Châteauguay rivers.

This recovery strategy addresses the needs of the Channel Darter throughout its Canadian range and also serves to facilitate cooperation and coordination of recovery efforts among those jurisdictions responsible for this species. A Quebec recovery plan for the Channel Darter was developed in 2001 (currently under revision) and many recovery actions for this species are already underway. Several ecosystem-based recovery planning documents already exist or are in development that include parts of the range of Channel Darter populations in southwestern Ontario and will likely promote the recovery of this species in those areas.

One or more action plans relating to this recovery strategy will be produced within five years of the final recovery strategy being posted on the Species at Risk Public Registry.

Recovery Feasibility Summary

The recovery of the Channel Darter is believed to be biologically and technically feasible.  The following feasibility criteria have been met for the species:

1. Are individuals capable of reproduction currently available to improve the population growth rate or population abundance?

Yes.  Phelps and Francis (2002) reported the presence of the Channel Darter at 55 sites in 23 waterbodies.  Since this time, Channel Darter has been found in at least one additional waterbody.  While spawning does require specific habitat conditions, the species’ continued presence at these sites indicates that reproduction has occurred in recent years.  Male and female Channel Darter in spawning condition, were observed in the Moira River in May 2001 (Reid et al. 2005) and Trent River in June 2003 (Reid 2004) and in the Gatineau River between May and June 1999 (Comtois et al. 2004), in July 2003 (J. Boucher, Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune du Québec, pers. comm. 2009) and July 2004 (Lemieux et al. 2005).

2. Is sufficient suitable habitat available to support the species or could it be made available through habitat management or restoration?

Yes.  Sufficient suitable habitat is available for the Channel Darter in multiple locations (e.g., Trent River).  Additionally, there is apparently suitable, but uninhabited, habitat available in the Quinte region (Reid et al. 2005).  Improved water level management and water quality (e.g., through stewardship and Best Management Practices [BMPs] and Watershed Committees) could improve and expand the extent of suitable habitat.

3. Can significant threats to the species or its habitat be avoided or mitigated through recovery actions?

Yes.  Many significant threats to Channel Darter habitat, such as dams and increased sedimentation and turbidity, can be addressed through recovery actions.  Stewardship, implementation of BMPs and Watershed Committees, as well as improved water level management would mitigate these threats.

4. Do the necessary recovery techniques exist and are they demonstrated to be effective?

Yes.  There are numerous techniques available to improve water quality in lakes and rivers.  Watershed-based stewardship activities have been initiated in some areas of Ontario and Quebec. 

Repatriation may be feasible through captive rearing or adult transfers.  Although there are no published studies on the husbandry of Channel Darter, the species has been propagated successfully in captivity (Shute et al. 2000).  Additionally, captive rearing and translocations have been used in the south-eastern United States in the recovery of other endangered darter species (Shute et al. 2005).  For example, populations of imperilled species such as the Snail Darter (Percina tanasi) and Fringed Darter (Etheostoma crossopterum) have been established through adult transfers (Etnier and Starnes 1993, Poly 2003).

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1. COSEWIC2 Species Assessment Information

Date of assessment: May 2002
Common name (population): Channel Darter 
Scientific name: Percina copelandi
COSEWIC status: Threatened
COSEWIC reason for designation: This species exists in low numbers where found and its habitat is impacted by siltation and fluctuations in water temperature.
Canadian occurrence: Ontario, Quebec
COSEWIC status history: Designated Threatened in April 1993.  Status re-examined and confirmed in May 2002.

Please note: The Status Summary above is as it appears on the COSEWIC website.  The recovery team believes there was a typographical error and that the Reason for Designation should refer to habitat impacts from fluctuation in water levels.  The COSEWIC Assessment and Update Status Report on Channel Darter completed by Phelps and Francis in 2002 also refers to habitat impacts from changes in both water temperature and flow.

2. Species Status Information

Global status - The Channel Darter (Percina copelandi Jordan, 1877) is globally secure (G4), but is extremely localized and sparingly distributed (Kuehne and Barbour 1983).  Declines have been reported in the upper Ohio River system (Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania), the Ohio waters of Lake Erie, and in the Tennessee River system in Kentucky (Goodchild 1994).  Populations are apparently stable in the Licking River in Kentucky, and the Arkansas River drainage in Oklahoma and Arkansas (Kuehne and Barbour 1983, Goodchild 1994).  The Channel Darter is ranked at risk (S1, S2 or S3) in 11 of the 15 American states where it occurs, as well as in Ontario and Quebec (Table 1) (NatureServe 2013).

Canadian status - In Canada, the Channel Darter has a national ranking of N2N3, and is ranked S2 in Ontario and S2S3 in Quebec (NatureServe 2013).  It was designated as Threatened in 1993 by COSEWIC and this status was reconfirmed in 2002 (COSEWIC 2002).  Federally, the species is listed on Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) and provincially, it is designated as Threatened in Ontario and is listed under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act, 2007 (Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources [OMNR] 2009).  Since March 2005 in Quebec, the Channel Darter has been designated as vulnerable under the Loi sur les espèces menacées ou vulnérables.

Percent of global distribution and abundance in Canada – Phelps and Francis (2002) estimated Channel Darter’s extent of occurrence in Canada at 80 000 km2, or 16% of the species’ global extent of occurrence.  Phelps and Francis estimated that area of occurrence of this species, or the area actually occupied by this species, in Canada is 300 km2.  Although there are no global or Canadian abundance estimates, Canada may represent about 5% of the global Channel Darter population (A. Dextrase, OMNR, pers. comm. 2006). 

Table 1 is captioned “Global, national and sub-national heritage status ranks for the Channel Darter.”  The rankings are from NatureServe 2009.  The following footnote is provided describing the rankings:  “G4/N4/S4 – Apparently Secure: Uncommon but not rare; some cause for long-term concern due to declines or other factors; N3/S3 – Vulnerable: Vulnerable in the nation/state or province due to a restricted range, relatively few populations (often 80 or fewer), recent and widespread declines, or other factors making it vulnerable to extirpation; S2 – Imperilled: Imperilled in the state or province because of rarity due to very restricted range, very few populations (often 20 or fewer), steep declines, or other factors making it very vulnerable to extirpation from the state or province; S1 – Critically Imperilled: Critically imperilled in the state or province because of extreme rarity (often 5 or fewer occurrences) or because of some factor(s) such as very steep declines making it especially vulnerable to extirpation from the state or province.  For more information on ranking see: NatureServe “

There are two columns and four rows.  The first row is column headings.  The left-hand column is Rank and the right-hand column is Jurisdiction Rank.  Row one in the following description is the row immediately following the column headings.  The table is read by rows.  Reading the rows across, left to right, Row 1 is Rank, Global (G); Jurisdiction Rank, G4 (19 June 2011).  Row 2 is Rank, National (N), divided into one line for Canada; Jurisdiction Rank N2N3, and one line for the United States; Jurisdiction Rank N4.  Row 3  is Rank, Sub-national (S), divided into Canada and the United States.  Jurisdiction Rank for Canada is as follows:  Ontario (S2), Quebec (S2S3).  Jurisdiction Rank for the United States: Arkansas (S4), Indiana (S2), Kansas (S3), Kentucky (S4), Louisiana (S1S2), Michigan (S1S2), Missouri (S3), New York (S2), Ohio (S2), Oklahoma (S4), Pennsylvania (S4), Tennessee (S3), Vermont (S1), Virginia (S2), West Virginia (S2S3)

Table 1. Global, national and sub-national status ranks3 for the Channel Darter.
(NatureServe 2013)
RankJurisdiction rank
Global (G)G4 (19 June 2011)
National (N)
Canada
N2N3
National (N)
U.S.
N4
Sub-national (S)
Canada
Ontario (S2), Quebec (S2S3)
Sub-national (S)
U.S.
Arkansas (S4), Indiana (S2), Kansas (S3), Kentucky (S4), Louisiana (S1S2), Michigan (S1S2), Missouri (S3), New York (S2), Ohio (S2), Oklahoma (S4), Pennsylvania (S4), Tennessee (S2S3), Vermont (S1), Virginia (S2), West Virginia (S2S3)

3. Species Information

3.1 Species Description

The following description has been adapted from Trautman (1981), Starnes et al. (1977), and Scott and Crossman (1998), unless otherwise noted.  The Channel Darter (Figure 1) is a small, slender fish with an elongated body.  Goodchild (1994) gives a range of 34 to 61 mm total length (TL) for Canadian specimens, although individuals up to 72 mm TL have been captured (Reid 2004).  It is light sand or olive coloured, with brown speckles on its back and cross-shaped markings over its dorsal surface.  A series of brown, oblong or round blotches often joined by a thin line can be found on its side.  A dusky bar or spot may be present beneath the eye and extend forward on to the snout; fins are clear or only lightly speckled and the ventral half of the body is whitish.  Breeding males may be noticeably darker (Goodchild 1994).

The Channel Darter resembles the Johnny Darter (Etheostoma nigrum), Tessellated Darter (E. olmstedi), and River Darter (P. shumardi) (Goodchild 1994), all of which have distributions that overlap that of the Channel Darter.  An identification key for distinguishing the Channel Darter from other darters has been developed by Massé and Bilodeau (2003).  However, juvenile identification is still problematic.  Refer to Phelps and Francis (2002) for detailed information on how to distinguish the Channel Darter from other similar species.

Figure 1 is captioned “Figure 1. Channel Darter (Percina copelandi).”It is a coloured illustration, copyrighted by Ellen Edmonson, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, lateral view, of a Channel Darter.

Figure 1. Channel Darter (Percina copelandi) © Ellen Edmonson (NYSDEC).

Channel Darter

3.2 Population and Distribution

Global range – The Channel Darter has a wide but disjunct distribution across central North America (Figure 2); occurring west of the Appalachian Mountains, in the Mississippi drainage (Tennessee, Ohio, and Arkansas rivers) and southern Great Lakes basin (Lake Huron, Lake St. Clair, Lake Erie, and the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River drainages) (Goodchild 1994).  It is found in 15 U.S. states: Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.  At the northern limit of its range, the Channel Darter is found in both Ontario and Quebec (NatureServe 2013).  It may have had a greater North American pre-glacial distribution, as fossil records tentatively assigned to this species were found in South Dakota (Stauffer et al. 1982, Cavender 1986; both cited in Goodchild 1994).

Figure 2 is captioned “Global distribution of the Channel Darter.”  The figure is a line drawing of a map of central North America.  A scale is provided.  Occurrences of the Channel Darter are shaded in grey and include areas west of the Appalachian Mountains, in the Mississippi drainage (Tennessee, Ohio and Arkansas rivers) and southern Great Lakes basin (Lake Huron, Lake St. Clair, Lake Erie and the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River drainages), Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.  The map has been modified from A Field Guide to Freshwater Fishes of North America North of Mexico (Page and Burr 1991).

Figure 2. Global distribution of the Channel Darter.
(adapted from Page and Burr 1991).

map

Canadian range –Disjunct populations are found in Ontario and Quebec (Figure 3).  Goodchild (1994) suggested that the Channel Darter has always been rare in Canada, as it is at the northern edge of its range. 

Ontario: In Ontario (Figures 4 and 5), the Channel Darter is found in the lower Great Lakes basin.  The species has been collected from the Detroit River, Lake St. Clair, the St. Clair River, Lake Erie and several tributaries to Lake Ontario, including the Trent River, Moira River and two of its tributaries (Skootamatta River and Black River), and Salmon River.  It has also been found in Little Rideau Creek (a tributary of the Ottawa River) in eastern Ontario (Goodchild 1994, Phelps and Francis 2002).

Quebec: In Quebec, the species is at the northernmost limit of its global distribution. Its distribution is disjunct and populations are located in the tributaries of the upper St. Lawrence (Lapointe 1997, Scott and Crossman 1998) (Figure 6).  In the St. Lawrence River, the species has been captured in Lake St. Louis and in Lake St. Pierre and its archipelago (N. La Violette, unpubl. data).  The species has also been recorded in tributaries in four hydrographic regions: Ottawa and Montreal, the southwest St. Lawrence, southeast St. Lawrence and the northwest St. Lawrence (Figure 6).  Since the preparation of the 2002 COSEWIC update status report (Phelps and Francis 2002) more recent surveys have yielded new Channel Darter records. See Appendices E and F for further details.

Figure 3 is captioned “Channel Darter distribution in Canada.”  The figure is a map of central Ontario and Quebec, with an inset at the top left of the map showing the geographical location of this map on a larger scale map.  A legend and scale are provided.  The legend provides symbols denoting years of capture (2001–2009, 1991–2000, 1981–1990, and 1928–1980) as well as designations for Parks, First Nations, and Built-up Areas.  Individual data points are identified by year of capture.  The map shows disjunct populations of Channel Darter, the overall impression being three clusters of capture points, for the various time periods, one at the western end of Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair, a second cluster along the Moira and Trent Rivers around Bellville, and finally, a cluster in Quebec, along the Ottawa, St. Lawrence, Trout and Richelieu rivers.  In addition, there are older data points, from 1928–1980, on the Lake Erie shoreline at Rondeau Provincial Park, Port Burwell, and Port Dover.

Figure 3. Channel Darter distribution in Canada.

map

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Figure 4 is captioned “Channel Darter distribution in southwestern Ontario.”  This is a map of southwestern and central Ontario showing Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair with an inset at the top left of the map showing the geographical location of this map on a larger scale map.  A legend and scale are provided.  The legend provides symbols denoting years of capture (2001–2009, 1991–2000, 1981–1990, and 1928–1980) as well as designations for Parks, First Nations, and Built-up Areas.  Individual data points are identified by year of capture.  The species has been collected from the Detroit River, Lake St. Clair, the St. Clair River, and Lake Erie.

Figure 4. Channel Darter distribution in southwestern Ontario.

map

Figure 5 is captioned “Channel Darter distribution in eastern Ontario.”  This is a map of eastern Ontario, with an inset at the top left of the map showing the geographical location of this map on a larger scale map.  A legend and scale are provided.  The legend provides symbols denoting years of capture (2001–2009, 1991–2000, 1981–1990, and 1928–1980) as well as designations for Parks, First Nations, and Built-up Areas.  Individual data points are identified by year of capture.  Channel Darter has been collected from several tributaries to Lake Ontario, including the Trent River, Moira River and two of its tributaries (Skootamatta River and Black River), and Salmon River.  It has also been found in Little Rideau Creek (a tributary of the Ottawa River) in eastern Ontario.

Figure 5. Channel Darter distribution in eastern Ontario.

map

Figure 6 is captioned “Channel Darter distribution in Quebec.”  This is a map of eastern Ontario and Quebec, with an inset at the top left of the map showing the geographical location of this map on a larger scale map.  A legend and scale are provided.  The legend provides symbols denoting years of capture (2001–2009, 1991–2000, 1981–1990, and 1923–1980) as well as designations for Parks, First Nations, and Built-up Areas.  Individual data points are identified by year of capture.  The map shows that Channel Darter has been captured in tributaries of four hydrographic regions: Outaouais and Montreal, the southwest St. Lawrence, southeast St. Lawrence and the northwest St. Lawrence.

Figure 6. Channel Darter distribution in Quebec

map

Canadian population size: Phelps and Francis (2002) reported that extant populations were sampled at 55 locations in 23 waterbodies.  Additionally, seven historic sites are believed extirpated, one in Ontario, six in Quebec (Phelps and Francis 2002) (this number is now five as the species has recently been re-confirmed at a site in Quebec that was previously believed to be extirpated).  New sites discovered are likely the result of increased sampling effort by OMNR, the Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune (MRNF) and partners (refer to Appendices E-G) rather than range expansion.  Aside from the reported decline at a number of historical locations in Ontario and Quebec (Phelps and Francis 2002), there is no population abundance information, but it is likely that the loss of several Canadian populations is associated with a concomitant decline in abundance.

Ontario4 – In Ontario, declines appear to be occurring in Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair.  Channel Darter was detected at just one (shoreline bordering Point Pelee National Park) of six historic locations along the north shore of Lake Erie during intensive sampling conducted in the spring and fall of 2005 and 2006 (Reid and Mandrak 2008).  This indicates that a more substantial range decline has occurred in Canada than reported in the 2002 COSEWIC assessment (Reid and Mandrak 2008).  However, one Channel Darter was captured in Lake Erie at a depth of 10.8 m by the OMNR while conducting a bottom trawl in 2010, suggesting that the species may be present at greater depths (Bouvier and Mandrak 2010). 

The most recent record of Channel Darter in the Lake Erie drainage comes from the Detroit River in 2009, where a single individual was captured at the mouth of the river where it connects to Lake St. Clair.  This new record is located relatively far from previous Channel Darter records in the Detroit River, which were captured in the vicinity of the outlet into Lake Erie (Bouvier and Mandrak 2010).

The most recent records of Channel Darter in Lake St. Clair date back to 1996, when 65 individuals were captured near Walpole Island (Bouvier and Mandrak 2010).  In 2005, surveys were conducted at historical sites along the south shore of Lake St. Clair by the OMNR; however, Channel Darter was not detected.  Recent trawling (Thomas and Haas 2004) and 2005 OMNR seining surveys (M. Belore, OMNR, pers. comm. 2006) along the south shore of Lake St. Clair failed to collect any Channel Darter. 

Recent sampling (2001, 2003) of historical sites in the Moira River (including two of its tributaries the Black and Skootamatta rivers) confirmed the persistence of these populations (Reid 2004, Reid et al. 2005).  Two Channel Darter records (1989, 2004) exist for Little Rideau Creek near the confluence with the Ottawa River (Dextrase and Reid 2004).  However, given the proximity of the records to the Ottawa River, further sampling is required at this location to determine if the records represent a resident population in Little Rideau Creek or a population in the Ottawa River.

Targeted sampling conducted on the lower Trent River from 2003 to 2008, yielded 831 Channel Darter (Reid 2005, Coker and Portt 2009), and sampling conducted in 2003 detected Channel Darter for the first time in the Salmon River (Reid et al. 2005).  The species is believed to be extirpated from an un-named creek that flows into the Moira River (Phelps and Francis 2002).  In the South Nation River, sites with unconfirmed Channel Darter records from OMNR stream inventories in the 1970’s were re-sampled in May of 2005 but yielded no specimens (A. Dextrase, S. Reid, OMNR, pers. comm. 2009)

Quebec5 – The status of the Channel Darter in Quebec is not well known as there have been few studies conducted.  Nevertheless, the small amount of available abundance data could suggest that the species’ numbers have decreased (Lapointe 1997, Équipe de rétablissement du fouille-roche gris 2001, Phelps and Francis 2002, Fisheries and Oceans Canada [DFO] 2010).  The Channel Darter appears to have disappeared from the Chicot, Niger, aux Bleuets and Maskinongé rivers as well as from the Port St. François area in the St. Lawrence River (Phelps and Francis 2002) and from the Lake St. Louis and Becancour-Batiscan area in the St. Lawrence River (data from the St. Lawrence Fish Monitoring Network [RSI]).  The species was also believed to be extirpated from the du Sud River (Phelps and Francis 2002) until two specimens were detected in 2005 (P.Y. Collin, MRNF, pers. comm. 2005).  Several areas with historical Channel Darter records have not been sampled recently; therefore, it is impossible to determine whether the species is extant at these locations. 

Since the preparation of the 2002 COSEWIC status report (Phelps and Francis 2002), Channel Darter specimens have been captured in several waterways and in some cases in large numbers (e.g., 137 and 125 specimens in the Gatineau and Richelieu rivers, respectively, in 2003 [Boucher et al. 2009]; 58 specimens in the tributaries of the Ottawa River downstream from Gatineau in 2006 [Pariseau et al. 2007]) (Refer to Appendix D for more information).  However, most of the targeted Channel Darter surveys were aimed at verifying the occurrence of the species and not the density.  When one or more individuals were observed, sampling was halted to limit the impacts on the species and its habitat (S. Garceau, MRNF, pers. comm. 2009).  These surveys revealed that several areas in Quebec appear to harbour significant Channel Darter populations, such as the Chambly Rapids on the Richelieu River, the Farmer Rapids on the Gatineau River, and Pointe-au-Chêne Creek and the Kinonge River, two tributaries of the Ottawa River.  Potential new Channel Darter locations include the wider section of the Ottawa River between Fasset and Grenville (i.e., wide sand and gravel beaches washed over by waves) and the Saint-François River.

Canadian population assessment: The status of Channel Darter populations in Canada was assessed by Bouvier and Mandrak (2010) (Ontario) and Boucher and Garceau (2010) (Quebec) (Table 2).  Populations were ranked with respect to abundance and trajectory (DFO 2010) (Table 2).  Population abundance and trajectory were then combined to determine the population status.  A certainty level was also assigned to the population status, which reflected the lowest level of certainty associated with either population abundance or trajectory.  Refer to Bouvier and Mandrak (2010) and Boucher and Garceau (2010) for further details on the methodology.

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Table 2 is captioned “Population status and associated certainty of individual Channel Darter populations in Canada.”  This table has been modified from DFO 2010 (Recovery Potential Assessment of Channel Darter (Percina copelandi) in Canada).  There are three columns and thirty-seven rows.  The first column is Population; a footnote accompanies this column and reads ‘Note that, for lack of supporting data, a location was assumed to have a single population when population status was assessed by Bouvier and Mandrak (2010) and Boucher and Garceau (2010).’   The middle column is Population Status, colour coded red for Poor, yellow for Fair, green for Good, Unknown and Extirpated are not coloured; the right-hand column is Certainty.  Certainty has been number coded as follows: 1=quantitative analysis; 2=Catch Per Unit Effort (CPUE) or standardized sampling; 3=best guess.  Row one in the following description is the row immediately following the column headings.  The table is read by rows.  The table has been divided into Ontario populations and Quebec populations.  Reading the rows across, left to right, Row 1 is Population, Ontario; this row extends the width of the table.  Ontario is subdivided into four drainages: Bay of Quinte, Lake Erie, Lake St. Clair and the Ottawa River (Row 2–13).  These drainages are further subdivided by population.  Row 2 is Population, Bay of Quinte Drainage; this row extends the width of the table.  The Bay of Quinte Drainage is subdivided into three rows (Row 3–Row 5) by population as follows: Row 3 Population, Moira system: Moira, Skootamatta and Black rivers; Population Status, Fair, colour coded yellow; Certainty, 2; Row 4 Population, Salmon River; Population Status, Fair, colour coded yellow; Certainty, 2; Row 5 Population, Trent River; Population Status, Fair, colour coded yellow; Certainty, 2.  Row 6 is Population, Lake Erie drainage; this row extends the width of the table. The Lake Erie drainage is subdivided into three rows (Row 7–9) by population as follows: Row 7 Population, Detroit River; Population Status, Unknown; Certainty, 3; Row 8 Population, Western basin: Pelee Island, Point Pelee, Holiday Beach; Population Status, Poor, colour coded red; Certainty, 2; Row 9 Population, Central/Eastern basin: Port Dover, Port Burwell, Rondeau Bay; Population Status, Extirpated, coloured coded red; Certainty, 2.  Row 10 is Population, Lake St. Clair drainage; this row extends the width of the table.  The Lake St. Clair drainage is subdivided into one row (Row 11) by population as follows: Row 11 Population, Lake St. Clair; Population Status, Poor, colour coded red; Certainty, 2; Row 12 is Population, Ottawa River drainage; this row extends the width of the table.  The Ottawa River drainage is subdivided into one row (Row 13) by population as follows: Row 13 Population, Little Rideau Creek; Population Status, Unknown; Certainty, 2.  Row 14 is Population, Quebec; this row extends the width of the table.  Quebec is subdivided into four regions, Outaouais and Montreal, Southwest St. Lawrence River, Northwest St. Lawrence River, and the Southeast St. Lawrence River (Row 15–36).  These regions are further subdivided by population.  Row 15 is Population, Outaouais and Montreal; this row extends the width of the table.  The Outaouais and Montreal region is subdivided into one row (Row 16) as follows: Row 16 Population, Outaouais River; Population Status, Good, colour coded green; Certainty, 2;

....Continue reading the table by rows

Table 2. Population status and associated certainty of individual Channel Darter populations inCanada.
Certainty: 1 = quantitative analysis; 2 = Catch Per Unit Effort (CPUE) or standardized sampling; 3 = best guess. Table adapted from DFO (2010).
Population6Population statusCertainty
ONTARIO
Bay of Quinte Drainage
Moira system: Moira, Skootamatta and Black riversFair2
Salmon RiverFair2
Trent RiverFair2
Lake Erie Drainage
Detroit RiverUnknown3
Western basin: Pelee Island, Point Pelee, Holiday BeachPoor2
Central/ Eastern basin: Port Dover, Port Burwell, Rondeau BayExtirpated2
Lake St. Clair Drainage
Lake St. ClairPoor2
Ottawa River Drainage
Little Rideau CreekUnknown2
QUÉBEC
Ottawa and Montreal
Ottawa RiverGood2
Southwest St. Lawrence River
Richelieu RiverGood2
Châteauguay RiverPoor2
Yamaska RiverPoor3
Saint-François RiverGood2
Nicolet RiverUnknown3
Northwest St. Lawrence River
L’Assomption RiverFair2
Bayonne RiverFair2
Batiscan RiverUnknown3
Jacques-Cartier RiverUnknown3
Sainte-Anne RiverUnknown3
Southeast St. Lawrence River
Bécancour RiverUnknown3
du Sud RiverPoor2
du Chêne RiverUnknown3
aux Ormes RiverUnknown3
Henri RiverUnknown3
Gentilly RiverUnknown3
aux Orignaux RiverUnknown3

3.3 Needs of the Channel Darter

Habitat and biological needs

Spawn to Hatch: In the spring and early summer, Channel Darter migrate short distances to riffle or shoal habitats with moderate flows and clean coarse bed material to spawn (Winn 1953, Reid 2004, Lemieux et al. 2005, Garceau et al. 2007, Boucher et al. 2009).  Winn (1958) described spawning in an inland Michigan lake to occur on gravely shoals, after which Channel Darter migrated to deeper waters.  Moderate to fast flow rates may be essential to spawning success.  For example, in the Trent River, a mean mid-column water velocity of 0.46 m/s was measured over a period when individuals in reproductive condition were collected (Reid 2004), and in the Richelieu River water velocities ranged from 0.24-0.60 m/s (Lemieux et al. 2005). Male Channel Darter establish and defend breeding territories around a rock located in the current.  Females move between territories, spawning with successive males and laying 4-10 eggs in each nest; 350-700 eggs are laid in total.  Water temperatures measured during spawning ranged from 14.5 to 25°C (Winn 1953, Comtois et al. 2004, Reid 2004, Lemieux et al. 2005).  No parental care is provided to the eggs/larvae.  There is little information on generation time for this species, although eggs have been collected from 1-2 year old females (Page 1983).

Embryonic (yolk-sac) stage: Yolk-sac larvae have been collected in water 12 m deep in Lake Erie near Point Abino (Fish 1932; cited in Simon and Wallus 2006).  In Quebec, eggs and larvae have been captured at depths of 0.3-0.4 m over substrates of cobble, gravel and sand (Lemieux et al. 2005).  Nothing further is known regarding the habitat requirements of embryonic Channel Darter.

Young of the year (YOY): YOY are believed to associate with areas containing gravel and sand at depths of 0-5 m (Lane et al. 1996).  Juveniles have been found in backwaters and pools with low flow and some have been captured adjacent to large rivers (Winn 1953).  Little else is known regarding the specific habitat requirements of YOY Channel Darter.
 
Adult: The Channel Darter is a warm water benthic species that, in Canada, is found in three general habitats: gravel and coarse sand beaches of Lake Erie (Reid and Mandrak 2008); gravel/cobble shoals and riffles in large rivers (Reid 2005, Lemieux et al. 2005, Boucher et al. 2009); and riffles and pools of small- to medium-sized rivers (e.g., CARA 2002, Reid et al. 2005, Garceau et al. 2007).  In Quebec, the species occurs primarily in rivers or small streams with undisturbed shorelines along forested or agricultural areas and with good water quality (Lapointe 1997, Garceau et al.2007).  Currents are slow to moderate, depths are usually less than 60 cm and substrates are composed of cobble along with other types of material (Desrochers et al.1996, CARA 2002, Lemieux et al. 2005, Boucher 2006, Garceau et al. 2007, Boucher et al. 2009).

During the summer, Channel Darter continue to be associated with habitats containing riffles or shoals (Stauffer et al.1996, Reid 2004) and adjacent sand-bottomed pools (Reid 2005).  By late fall, few remain in riffle and shoal habitats and over-wintering occurs in pools with low current (Branson 1967, Etnier and Starnes 1993).  Habitat requirements of lake populations are not as well documented as river populations.  Along the north shore of Lake Erie, Channel Darter have been collected from wave-washed coarse sand and gravel beaches (Scott 1955, Reid and Mandrak 2008). 

The Channel Darter is considered to be pollution intolerant.  Good water quality, particularly low levels of turbidity, is important for this species (Lapointe 1997).  The Channel Darter is sensitive to high sedimentation levels (Goodchild 1994) and is not often found in areas with predominantly silt or clay substrates. 

Limiting factors

The Channel Darter has specific habitat requirements relating to water temperature, flow and substrate that must be present for successful spawning.  Water temperatures measured during spawning ranged from 14.5 to 25°C (Winn 1953, Comtois et al. 2004, Reid 2004, Lemieux et al. 2005).  Abrupt reductions in water flow during spawning can cause cessation of courtship activities and temporary use of the breeding area (Winn 1953).  Spawning requires clean coarse bed material.  Deposition of fine sediments over otherwise suitable spawning habitats has been suggested to preclude use (Winn 1953).  Goodchild (1994) hypothesized that the conditions needed to create optimal spawning habitat may only occur at intervals, leading to a variation in reproductive success and thus changes in abundance from year to year.  The communal spawning behaviour of the Channel Darter may limit the number of eggs deposited by females (Goodchild 1994).  This implies that each female must spawn repeatedly with many males to lay all her eggs and this opportunity may not always exist (Goodchild 1994).

The Channel Darter is a small fish, with limited dispersal ability, that exists as a collection of disjunct populations.  Therefore, rescue effect (the ability of a neighbouring population to halt the decline of another population through migration from one population to another) is low as extirpated populations have little opportunity to be re-colonized through natural movements.  The ability to disperse might increase if we consider dispersal over more than one generation.

Goodchild (1994) suggested that the Channel Darter may be limited by competition from Johnny Darter or Logperch (P. caprodes) for spawning sites. 

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4. Threats

4.1 Threat Assessment

Bouvier and Mandrak (2010) assessed threats to Channel Darter populations in Ontario while Boucher and Garceau (2010) assessed threats to the species in Quebec.  Known and suspected threats were ranked with respect to threat likelihood and threat impact for each population (Tables 3a and 3b) (DFO 2010).  The threat likelihood and threat impact were then combined to produce an overall threat status.  A certainty level was also assigned to the overall threat status, which reflected the lowest level of certainty associated with either threat likelihood or threat impact.  See Bouvier and Mandrak (2010) and Boucher and Garceau (2010) for further details.  Additional information is provided in the subsequent threat summaries.

Table 3a is captioned “Threat status and certainty (), by population, for Channel Darter in Ontario by drainage.”  The level of certainty is provided within the table as a number in brackets and has been coded as follows: 1= causative studies; 2=correlative studies; and 3=expert opinion.  The level of the threat status (high, medium, low, unknown) has been colour coded: High (red), Medium (yellow), Low (green).  Clear cells do not necessarily represent a lack of a relationship between a population and a threat; rather, they indicate that either the threat likelihood or the threat impact is unknown.  Gray cells indicate that the threat is not applicable to the population due to the nature of the aquatic system where the population is located.  Table adapted from DFO 2010 (Recovery Potential Assessment of Channel Darter (Percina copelandi) in Canada). 

The table has been divided into two parts by drainage: Lake Erie drainage and Lake St. Clair drainage for the first part, Bay of Quinte drainage and Ottawa River drainage for the second part.  Eight threats are identified for each population, the same for both parts, and are listed by row: shoreline modifications, altered flow regimes, barriers to movements, turbidity and sediment loading, nutrient loading, contaminants and toxic substances, invasive species and disease, and incidental harvest.  The table is read by column.

For the first part, there are 5 columns and 10 rows.  The first row is column headings.  The left-hand column is Threats, the next columns are organized by drainage and subdivided by population.  For the Lake Erie drainage, there are 3 populations (columns): Detroit River, Western basin, and the Central/Eastern basin.  For the Lake St. Clair drainage there is one population (column): the Lake St Clair system.  Column 2 is Lake Erie drainage, Detroit River; Threat, shoreline modifications, Medium (yellow), Certainty 3; Threat, altered flow regimes, High (red), Certainty 3; Threat, barriers to movement, not applicable (empty gray cell); Threat, turbidity and sediment loading, Medium (yellow), Certainty 3; Threat, nutrient loading, Medium (yellow), Certainty 3; Threat, contaminants and toxic substances, Medium (yellow), Certainty 3; Threat, invasive species and disease, High (red), Certainty 2; Threat, incidental harvest, Low (green), Certainty 3.  Column 3 is Lake Erie drainage, Western basin; Threat, shoreline modifications, High (red), Certainty 2; Threat, altered flow regimes, not applicable (empty gray cell); Threat, barriers to movement, not applicable (empty gray cell); Threat, turbidity and sediment loading, Medium (yellow), Certainty 3; Threat, nutrient loading, Medium (yellow), Certainty 3; Threat, contaminants and toxic substances, Unknown (clear cell), Certainty 3; Threat, invasive species and disease, High (red), Certainty 2; Threat, incidental harvest, Low (green), Certainty 3. 

.....Read the remainder of part one of Table 3a by column.

For the second part of Table 3a, there are 5 columns and 10 rows.  The first row is column headings.  The left-hand column is Threats, the next columns are organized by drainage and subdivided by population.  For the Bay of Quinte, there are 3 populations (columns): Moira system, Salmon River, and the Trent River.  For the Ottawa River drainage, there is one population (column): Little Rideau Creek.  Column 2 is Bay of Quinte drainage, Moira system; Threat, shoreline modifications, Low (green), Certainty 3; Threat, altered flow regimes, Low (green), Certainty 3; Threat, barriers to movement, Medium (yellow), Certainty 2; Threat, turbidity and sediment loading, Low (green), Certainty 3; Threat, nutrient loading, Low (green), Certainty 3; Threat, contaminants and toxic substances, Low (green), Certainty 3; Threat, invasive species and disease, High (red), Certainty 2; Threat, incidental harvest, Low (green), Certainty 3. 

.....Read the remainder of part two of Table 3a by column.

Table 3a. Threat status and certainty (), by population, for Channel Darter in Ontario by drainage.
ThreatsLake Erie
drainage
Lake St. Clair
drainage
Detroit
River
Western
basin
Central/
Eastern basin
Lake
St. Clair system
Shoreline modificationsMedium (3)High (2)High (2)High (3)
Altered flow regimesHigh (3)  Unknown (3)
Barriers to movement    
Turbidity and sediment loadingMedium (3)Medium (3)Medium (3)Medium (3)
Nutrient loadingMedium (3)Medium (3)Medium (3)Low (3)
Contaminants and toxic substancesMedium (3)Unknown (3)Unknown (3)Low (3)
Invasive species and diseaseHigh (2)High (2)High (2)High (2)
Incidental harvestLow (3)Low (3)Low (3)Low (3)

 

Table 3a.
ThreatsBay of Quinte
drainage
Ottawa River
drainage
Moira
system
Salmon
River
Trent
River
Little
Rideau Creek
Shoreline modificationsLow (3)Low (3)Low (3)Unknown (3)
Altered flow regimesLow (3)Low (3)Medium (3)Unknown (3)
Barriers to movementMedium (2)Low (2)Medium (2)Unknown (3)
Turbidity and sediment loadingLow (3)Low (3)Medium (3)Low (3)
Nutrient loadingLow (3)Low (3)Low (3)Unknown (3)
Contaminants and toxic substancesLow (3)Low (3)Low (3)Unknown (3)
Invasive species and diseaseHigh (2)High (2)High (2)High (2)
Incidental harvestLow (3)Low (3)Low (3)Unknown (3)

Certainty: 1= causative studies; 2=correlative studies; and 3=expert opinion.  Clear cells do not necessarily represent a lack of a relationship between a population and a threat; rather, they indicate that either the threat likelihood or the threat impact is unknown.  Gray cells indicate that the threat is not applicable to the population due to the nature of the aquatic system where the population is located.  Table adapted from DFO (2010).

Table 3b is captioned “Threat status and certainty (), by population, for Channel Darter in Quebec by hydrographic region and drainage.”  The level of certainty is provided within the table as a number in brackets and has been coded as follows: 1= causative studies; 2=correlative studies; and 3=expert opinion.  The level of the threat status (high, medium, low, unknown) has been colour coded: High (red), Medium (yellow), Low (green).  Clear cells do not necessarily represent a lack of a relationship between a population and a threat; rather, they indicate that either the threat likelihood or the threat impact is unknown.  Gray cells indicate that the threat is not applicable to the population due to the nature of the aquatic system where the population is located.  Table adapted from DFO 2010 (Recovery Potential Assessment of Channel Darter (Percina copelandi) in Canada). 

The table has been divided into five parts by hydrographic regions, drainage, and population: Outaouais – Montreal drainage and Southwest St. Lawrence River drainage for the first part; Southwest St. Lawrence River drainage and Northwest St. Lawrence River drainage for the second part; Northwest St. Lawrence River drainage for the third part; and Southeast St. Lawrence River drainage for both the fourth and fifth parts.  Eight threats are identified for each population, the same for all parts, and are listed by row: shoreline modifications, altered flow regimes, barriers to movements, turbidity and sediment loading, nutrient loading, contaminants and toxic substances, invasive species and disease, and incidental harvest.  The table is read by column.

For the first part of Table 3b, there are 5 columns and 10 rows.  The first row is column headings.  The left-hand column is Threats, the next columns are organized by hydrographic region or drainage and subdivided by population.  For the Outaouais – Montreal drainage, there is one population (column): the Outaouais River.  For the Southwest St. Lawrence River drainage, there are three populations listed in this part of the table, Richelieu River, Châteauguay River, and the Yamaska River.  Column 2 is Outaouais – Montreal drainage, Outaouais River; Threat, shoreline modifications, Low (green), Certainty 3; Threat, altered flow regimes, High (red), Certainty 1; Threat, barriers to movement, Medium (yellow); Threat, turbidity and sediment loading, Low (green), Certainty 2; Threat, nutrient loading, Low (green), Certainty 2; Threat, contaminants and toxic substances, Low (green), Certainty 2; Threat, invasive species and disease, Unknown (clear), Certainty 3; Threat, incidental harvest, Low (green), Certainty 3. 

.......Read the remainder of part one of Table 3b by column.  The remaining parts to Table 3b are organized in a similar manner as part one, with the same number of rows (Threats are the same), but differing columns for the hydrographic regions, drainages, and populations.  Read the remaining parts to Table 3b by column as indicated for part one.

Table 3b. Threat status and certainty (), by population, for Channel Darter inQuebec by hydrographic region and drainage.
ThreatsOttawa – Montreal drainageSouthwest
St. Lawrence River drainage
Ottawa
River
Richelieu
River
Châteauguay
River
Yamaska
River
Shoreline modificationsLow (3)Medium (2)High (3)Low (3)
Altered flow regimesHigh (1)Low (3)Low (3)Medium (3)
Barriers to movementMedium (1)Low (1)Medium (1)Low (1)
Turbidity and sediment loadingLow (2)Medium (2)Medium (2)High (2)
Nutrient loadingLow (2)Medium (1)Medium (1)High (1)
Contaminants and toxic substancesLow (2)Medium (1)Medium (1)High (1)
Invasive species and diseaseUnknown (3)Unknown (2)Unknown (2)Unknown (2)
Incidental harvestLow (1)Low (1)Low (1)Low (1)

 

Table 3b.
ThreatsSouthwest
St. Lawrence River drainage
Northwest
St. Lawrence River drainage
Saint-François
River
Nicolet
River
L’Assomption
River
Bayonne
River
Shoreline modificationsLow (2)Medium (2)Medium (2)Medium (2)
Altered flow regimesHigh (2)Unknown (2)Low (2)Low (2)
Barriers to movementHigh (2)Low (2)Low (2)Low (2)
Turbidity and sediment loadingMedium (2)Medium (2)Medium (2)Medium (2)
Nutrient loadingLow (2)Medium (2)Medium (2)Medium (2)
Contaminants and toxic substancesMedium (2)Medium (2)Medium (2)Medium (2)
Invasive species and diseaseUnknown (3)Unknown (3)Unknown (3)Unknown (3)
Incidental harvestLow (1)Low (1)Low (1)Low (1)

 

Table 3b.
ThreatsNorthwest St. Lawrence River drainage
Batiscan
River
Jacques-Cartier
River
Sainte-Anne
River
Shoreline modificationsLow (2)Unknown (3)Unknown (3)
Altered flow regimesUnknown (2)Unknown (3)Unknown (3)
Barriers to movementUnknown (2)Unknown (2)Unknown (2)
Turbidity and sediment loadingLow (2)Low (2)Low (2)
Nutrient loadingLow (2)Low (2)Low (2)
Contaminants and toxic substancesLow (2)Low (2)Low (2)
Invasive species and diseaseUnknown (3)Unknown (3)Unknown (3)
Incidental harvestLow (1)Low (1)Low (1)

 

Table 3b.
  ThreatsSoutheast St. Lawrence River drainage
Bécancour
River
du Sud
River
du Chêne
River
aux Ormes
River
Shoreline modificationsMedium (2)Medium (3)Unknown (3)Unknown (3)
Altered flow regimesUnknown (2)Medium (2)Low (2)Unknown (3)
Barriers to movementUnknown (2)Unknown (2)Low (2)Unknown (3)
Turbidity and sediment loadingMedium (2)Medium (3)Unknown (3)Unknown (3)
Nutrient loadingMedium (2)Medium (3)Unknown (3)Unknown (3)
Contaminants and toxic substancesMedium (2)Medium (3)Unknown (3)Unknown (3)
Invasive species and diseaseUnknown (3)Unknown (3)Unknown (3)Unknown (3)
Incidental harvestLow (1)Low (1)Low (1)Low (1)

 

Table 3b.
ThreatsSoutheast St. Lawrence River drainage
Henri
River
Gentilly
River
aux Orignaux
River
Shoreline modificationsUnknown (3)Unknown (3)Unknown (3)
Altered flow regimesUnknown (3)Unknown (2)Unknown (2)
Barriers to movementUnknown (3)Unknown (2)Unknown (2)
Turbidity and sediment loadingUnknown (3)Unknown (3)Unknown (3)
Nutrient loadingUnknown (3)Unknown (3)Unknown (3)
Contaminants and toxic substancesUnknown (3)Unknown (3)Unknown (3)
Invasive species and diseaseUnknown (3)Unknown (3)Unknown (3)
Incidental harvestLow (1)Low (1)Low (1)

Certainty: 1= causative studies; 2=correlative studies; and 3=expert opinion. Clear cells do not necessarily represent a lack of a relationship between a population and a threat; rather, they indicate that either the threat likelihood or the threat impact is unknown. Gray cells indicate that the threat is not applicable to the population due to the nature of the aquatic system where the population is located. Table adapted from DFO (2010). 

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4.2 Description of Threats

Shoreline modifications
Natural coastal processes that occur near the shorelines along lakes and large rivers include sediment erosion and deposition zones that provide and maintain fish habitat.  Much of the shoreline along Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River has been artificially hardened, filled, dredged or modified for human use (Essex-Erie Recovery Team [EERT] 2008).  In addition, the Detroit and St. Lawrence rivers have been significantly altered through the creation of shipping lanes, which resulted in the deepening of the channels, the creation of artificially hardened shoreline walls, the creation of depositional zones where dredged materials are placed, and the modification of flow patterns in both rivers (Environment Canada 1999, EERT 2008).  As a result, the natural processes of erosion and deposition along the St. Clair River-Detroit River corridor, and the St. Lawrence River have been altered.  Similarly, the nearshore of Lake Erie has been extensively modified with groynes, jetties and breakwaters, thereby, reducing aquatic habitat diversity and altering nearshore sediment transport (Koonce et al. 1996).  At Port Burwell and Port Dover, the construction of jetties has promoted sand deposition and changed the character of the sand beaches that previously supported the Channel Darter (Reid and Mandrak 2008).  Reid and Mandrak (2008) also noted that the creation of a break-wall and armouring at another historical Channel Darter location had reduced the beach habitat present.

The presence of healthy riparian areas also plays an important role in the protection of water quality.  These areas reduce soil erosion, filter runoff containing fertilizers, pesticides and sediment, regulate the water temperature and thus maintain good water quality for aquatic wildlife.  The deforestation and loss of riparian strips to increase cropland and corn development, results in the increase of water temperature, but also increases the rate of runoff, sedimentation and nutrient enrichment in streams and rivers, which are likely to affect Channel Darter habitat (FAPAQ 2002, Vachon 2003).  The regulations for protecting shorelines and littoral zones in Quebec, which were transferred to municipalities who must take the measures imposed by Quebec's  policy on protection of banks, shorelines and floodplains (Politique de protection des rives, du littoral et des plaines inondables [PPRLPI]), were only marginally applied, if at all, in 2004 (Sager 2004).  This situation has changed little in recent years.  Aside from initiatives by a few municipalities or enhancement projects, in general, there was deterioration in the quality of riparian strips both in urban and agricultural areas (Boucher and Garceau 2010).

Altered flow regimes
Many Quebec and Ontario rivers that support Channel Darter are affected by dams (e.g., Gatineau River, Moira River, Ottawa River, Trent River, Yamaska River).  Lacustrine conditions immediately upstream of dams are likely not suitable Channel Darter habitat.  Flow regulation may also have a negative effect on downstream populations, especially during the spawning period.  Abrupt decreases in flow during spawning can cause spawning to cease (Winn 1953).  Altered flow can also result in physiological stress and mortality in individual fish.  The Channel Darter is found downstream of dams along the Trent River where flow is primarily managed for navigation and flood control.  Shoals used by the Channel Darter have been observed to be temporarily (1-2 hours) de-watered during the spawning period and consistently dry in fall (Reid 2005).  In-stream flow needs assessments for species at risk are planned by Parks Canada Agency (PCA) for the Trent Severn Waterway.  This, in addition to future hydro-electric projects proposed for the Trent River may provide the opportunity to confirm that the needs of the Channel Darter and other species at risk are taken into account during the design and operation of dam recapitalization projects, as well as construction and operation of new or upgraded hydro-generating facilities. 

Barriers to movement
Barriers to movement (e.g., dams, natural waterfalls, poorly installed culverts) can restrict access to important habitat areas as well as fragment fish populations and limit the potential for rescue effect from neighbouring populations (EERT 2008, NatureServe 2013).  Conversely, barriers may afford protection for some species from competitors, predators or invasive species (EERT 2008).  According to Phelps and Francis (2002), barriers can compromise the spawning success of the Channel Darter by blocking access to spawning areas, although they did not distinguish between man-made and natural barriers.  Reid et al. (2005) found that natural barriers in the Bay of Quinte tributaries corresponded with the upper distribution limit of the Channel Darter in those systems.  The Moira, Black, Skootamatta and Salmon rivers are all fragmented by man-made structures and although Channel Darter were found both upstream and downstream of the barriers, it is possible that the species had a wider historical distribution (Reid et al. 2005).        

Turbidity and sediment loading
Elevated turbidity can negatively affect the ability of Channel Darter to find food and locate spawning sites.  Most Canadian populations are found in relatively clear rivers or lakes.  Similarly, high siltation rates can reduce the quality of spawning substrate, smother eggs or indirectly affect their benthic invertebrate food source (Goodchild 1994).  When sediment loads increase, the slow-to-moderate current habitat occupied by the Channel Darter may not be swift enough to prevent sediment deposition.  In Quebec, the species populates areas where intensive agricultural activities and urbanization have caused a gradual degradation of its habitat as a result of sedimentation, which jeopardizes the species’ survival (Lapointe 1997, DFO 2010).  Biologists failed to detect any Channel Darter in five rivers where the habitat had been altered as a result of agricultural exploitation, urbanization and bank erosion from navigation (i.e., wave action from passing boats7) - (Lapointe 1997, Phelps and Francis 2002).

Increased siltation and turbidity in Channel Darter habitats is most likely the result of agricultural activities and urban development, including watercourse and shoreline hardening, and channelization activities.  The historical locations where the Channel Darter has been extirpated were all affected by such habitat changes (Phelps and Francis 2002).

Nutrient loading
Nutrients (nitrates and phosphorous) enter waterbodies through a variety of pathways including manure and fertilizer applications to farmland, manure spills, sewage treatment plants and faulty domestic septic systems.  Nutrient enrichment of waterways can negatively influence aquatic health through algal blooms and associated reduced dissolved oxygen concentrations.  From 1955 to 1980, Lake Erie was affected by extensive oxygen depletion and associated changes in the benthos that resulted from excessive nutrient loading (Koonce et al.1996).  Phosphorous loading in Lake Erie reached a high of 29 000 tonnes in 1968, resulting in whole-lake eutrophication (Mandrak and Holm 2001).  From 1976 to 1999, phosphorous levels have showed a significant overall downward trend (Nicholls et al. 2001); however, data from 2000-2004 suggest a continued increasing trend in phosphorous since 1994, at a rate of approximately 1.4µg/L/year (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 2007).  Eutrophication, in addition to habitat degradation, overexploitation of the fisheries resource and introduction of invasive species, has altered Lake Erie over the past 70 years.  Over this time frame, it appears that in addition to a decline in general species richness, the distribution of Channel Darter in Lake Erie has been reduced (Reid and Mandrak 2008).

Intensive livestock operations and sewage treatment plants are potential point sources of acute nutrient loading.  Most Quebec and Ontario municipalities have sewage treatment systems that provide a preliminary treatment of wastewater.  However, in the event of heavy precipitation or system breakdown, wastewater in some municipalities is evacuated into the natural environment without any treatment.  Climate change could lead to more extreme weather conditions, which may increase the frequency of discharges from overflow structures.  While it has not been researched specifically, the threat of point source pollution from intensive agriculture, specifically hog farms, appears to be more serious for Quebec populations relative to those in Ontario (A. Dextrase, OMNR, pers. comm. 2006).

In the Châteauguay River watershed, Garceau et al. (2007) found that the downstream portion of the watershed had only a few typical Channel Darter habitats due to the silting of the streams and the development of algae, including periphyton, caused by excessive nutrient loading due to agriculture and urbanization.  Certain sections in the watershed where the Channel Darter had been reported historically (e.g., des Anglais River) no longer have any potential habitats as a result (Garceau et al. 2007).

Contaminants and toxic substances
Compared to other darter species, the Channel Darter is considered to be pollution intolerant (Richard 1994; cited in Lapointe 1997).  However, specific sensitivities to toxic chemicals and nutrient loading are largely unknown.  Contaminants and toxic substances from various sources (e.g., wastewater treatment plant, agricultural and livestock production, industrial discharge) may have several types of significant effects at the population level, including impaired reproduction, disruption of behaviour, a decreased resistance to pathogens and disruption of embryonic development.

In Ontario, in locations such as the St. Clair and Detroit rivers, the fish community, including Channel Darter, is exposed to a variety of toxic compounds from point and non-point sources (Environment Canada 2010) associated with urbanization and intensive industrial development (including a large petrochemical complex).  The specific impacts of toxic contaminants on the Channel Darter may not be direct; however, the cumulative impacts are a cause for concern (EERT 2008). 

In Quebec, the water quality in some of the rivers occupied by the Channel Darter (e.g., Richelieu,Yamaska, Bayonne, L’Assomption, Châteauguay and des Anglais) is also of concern for aquatic species (Côté et al. 2006, Giroux 2007, DFO 2010) and could represent a threat for the Channel Darter with respect to contamination through various sources of contaminants and  toxic substances (DFO 2010).  The use of pesticides for corn crops intended for hog production is an example of very significant nonpoint source agricultural pollution that alters water quality in the southern part of the province (FAPAQ 2002) where Channel Darter populations are found.

Another substance that may indirectly impact Channel Darter is the insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (BTI).  To control Black Fly (Diptera; Simuliidae) populations, BTI bacteria-based products are applied to rivers and streams where Black Fly larvae develop.  BTI is a “digestive system inhibitor” for organisms that have a highly alkaline digestive canal and acts on certain species while remaining safe for fishes (Boisvert and Lacoursière 2004).  Some studies have shown that BTI impacted non-targeted dipteral larvae, such as the Chironomid family (i.e., midges) (reviewed by Boisvert and Lacoursière [2004]), an important prey item for the Channel Darter.  BTI spraying has been occurring for several years in Quebec in some lotic areas occupied by the Channel Darter for Black Fly control; however, the possible indirect impacts on Channel Darter have not been studied.  BTI has not been applied to rivers occupied by Channel Darter in Ontario.

Invasive species and disease
The negative impacts of invasive fishes on native fishes in the Great Lakes basin have been well documented (e.g., French and Jude 2001, Thomas and Haas 2004).  Invasive species may affect the Channel Darter through direct competition for space and habitat, food, spawning sites, through the restructuring of aquatic food webs and by the potential introductions of new parasites (e.g., Cestod Valipora campylocristota probably introduced by Tench [Tinca tinca] in the Richelieu River [Marcogliese et al. 2009]).   

It has been suggested that the Round Goby may be a serious threat to the Channel Darter, competing for similar habitat and resources (Phelps and Francis 2002).  The current ranges of the Channel Darter and the Round Goby overlap in the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, the Detroit River, Lake Erie, Lake Ontario in the Bay of Quinte area, as well as in the St. Lawrence River and at the mouth of some of it’s tributaries (e.g., Richelieu River) (Reid 2005, A. Dextrase, OMNR, pers. comm. 2006, A. Gendron, Environment Canada [EC], pers. comm. 2011).  Since its introduction, the Round Goby has been implicated in the declines of the following native benthic fish species in the lower Great Lakes: 1) Logperch and Mottled Sculpin (Cottus bairdii) populations in the St. Clair River (French and Jude 2001); 2) Johnny Darter, Logperch, and Trout-Perch (Percopsis omiscomaycus) in Lake St. Clair (Thomas and Haas 2004); and, 3) Channel Darter, Fantail Darter (E. flabellare), Greenside Darter (E. blennioides), Johnny Darter and Logperch in the Bass Islands, western Lake Erie (Baker 2005).  Round Goby are abundant and widespread in Lake Erie habitats currently and formerly occupied by the Channel Darter.  The Round Goby was present at all sites sampled during a survey targeting the Channel Darter; however, Channel Darter catch-per-unit-effort was highest when Round Goby abundance was lowest (Reid and Mandrak 2008).  In Quebec, ichthyologic surveys tend to show that the Round Goby has become more abundant since 2003 and that it disperses quickly.  It is now present in most nearshore habitats in the St. Lawrence River (A. Gendron, EC, pers. comm. 2011) and it seems less parasitized than native species such as Logperch, which could exacerbate the impact of the Round Goby on competing species (Gendron et al. 2011).

Potential impacts of the invasive dreissenid mussels (Dreissena spp.) on the Channel Darter are unknown; however, it is possible that they may negatively impact the Channel Darter by altering food web dynamics and surrounding water quality.

Introduced pathogens can also represent a threat for different fish species.  For example, Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) is a contagious disease caused by a virus that affects more than 65 species of fish.  First identified in the Great Lakes in 2005 and 2006, this disease has been linked to massive mortalities in several fish species from this region.  There are currently no known cases of VHS occurring in the Channel Darter, and the impact of this disease on this species has not been studied.  The virus has been confirmed in Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, and the freshwater portion of the St. Lawrence River, east of the Moses-Saunders Dam, is currently considered a high-risk watershed for infection.  To date, there have been no reported VHS cases in Quebec (C. Brisson-Bonenfant, MRNF, pers. comm. 2009).  The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has introduced a two-year plan to monitor the occurrence of VHS in wild fish species in Canada (CFIA 2009).  Because of the Channel Darter’s status in Canada, mortalities related to this disease could considerably impact the survival and recovery of this species.

Incidental harvest (baitfishing)
Channel Darter is not a legal baitfish in Ontario (OMNR 2010) or Quebec (MRNF 2009).  Baitfish harvesting is not documented in the literature as a threat to Channel Darter; however, there is an overlap in the habitats used by Channel Darter and those targeted by baitfish harvesters.  In rivers, Channel Darter is easily captured by seine net from run and pool habitats downstream of riffles (Reid et al. 2005) and nearshore Lake Erie habitats (Scott 1955, Reid and Mandrak 2008).  While not a legal bait species, it is occasionally captured incidentally.  In rivers, the risk of by-catch would be greatest in areas where pools and runs occupied by Channel Darter are located near bridges or other access points.  Baitfish harvesting along the nearshore of the Great Lakes is believed to pose the greater potential threat to Channel Darter populations as the targeted habitat is consistent with that preferred by the species, especially the nearshore areas of Lake Erie (Reid and Mandrak 2008).  However, due to the rarity and limited distribution of Channel Darter, the probability of incidental capture is believed to be low (A. Drake, University of Toronto, pers. comm. 2009).

No Channel Darter were collected in samples taken from baitfish dealers across southern Ontario in 2007 and 2008 during a study examining the impacts of baitfish harvesting on species at risk and the distribution and spread of invasive species (Drake 2011).

In Quebec, a study was conducted in the fall of 2005 (Boucher et al. 2006) and summer of 2007 (Garceau et al. in press) to assess the risk of catching fish species at risk (including the Channel Darter) by commercial bait harvesters.  No Channel Darter specimens were reported in the samples from the commercial catches or in baitfish tanks.

Climate change
Climate change is expected to have significant effects on aquatic communities of the Great Lakes basin and the St. Lawrence River through several mechanisms, including increases in water and air temperatures; changes in water levels (i.e., lowering); shortening of the duration of ice cover; increases in the frequency of extreme weather events; emergence of diseases; and, shifts in predator-prey dynamics (Lemmen and Warren 2004).  It is anticipated that the effects of climate change will be widespread and should be considered a contributing impact to species at risk and all habitats.  Not all of the effects of climate change will negatively affect species at risk – those species that are limited in their range by cool water temperature may expand their distribution provided that dispersal corridors of suitable habitat are available.  However, a suite of reactions related to changes in evaporation patterns, vegetation communities, lower lake levels, increased intensity and frequency of storms, and decreases in summer stream water levels may offset the direct benefits of increased temperatures.  As the effects of climate change on Channel Darter are highly speculative, it is difficult to determine the impact that this will have on the populations and as such it was not included in the threats table.

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5. Population and Distribution Objectives

The long-term recovery objective (>20 years) for the Channel Darter is to maintain existing populations in Ontario and Quebec and restore self-sustaining populations to formerly occupied habitats, where feasible.  In some locations, permanent changes in the fish community, as a result of the establishment of invasive species, may impact the feasibility of re-establishing Channel Darter populations.

According to a recovery potential assessment (RPA) conducted on Canadian Channel Darter populations, at least ten discrete viable populations are required to reduce the species’ risk of extinction in Canada to 1% over 250 years (DFO 2010).  Modeling results from the RPA state that the estimated minimum viable population size (MVP) for Channel Darter is 31 000 adults, given a 10% chance of a catastrophic event occurring per generation (Venturelli et al. 2010). 

The implementation of such a target is difficult without also having information on current population(s), population sizes and trends (e.g., recruitment rates, mortality rates, fecundity, longevity, sex ratio) and spatial distribution, as well as habitat quality; this information is mostly lacking for the majority of Channel Darter locations in Canada.  Further research is required to obtain such information, validate the model results, and to verify if habitat deemed critical is sufficient to support the MVP.  Acquiring such information should also be considered a goal for this species with an initial focus on populations named below but not excluding all locations throughout the species’ Canadian distribution.  As such, the MVP will be used as a guideline for recovery but not as an absolute target for recovery.  More quantifiable objectives relating to MVP will be developed once abundance information can be obtained.  This will also inform the refinement of the recovery objectives.

Another important factor to consider when determining population and distribution objectives is the number of populations that may be at a given location, as it is possible that a location may contain more than one discrete population.  In this context, location does not refer to the locality of the discrete population, but rather a geographically or ecologically distinct area in which a single threatening event can rapidly affect all individuals of this species present (COSEWIC 2010).  The RPA states that ten discrete viable populations are required to reduce the risk of Channel Darter extinction in Canada.  However, the number of populations present in waterbodies inhabited by Channel Darter is currently unknown.  To be precautionary, where present, multiple populations at a single location should be maintained.

Based on data available at the time this recovery strategy was developed (surveys conducted up to 2009), the population and distribution objectives for the Channel Darter in Canada are to ensure the survival of self-sustaining population(s) at the following locations:

Ontario: Little Rideau Creek/Ottawa River, Trent River, Moira River/Black River/Skootamatta rivers, Salmon River, and Lake Erie (Point Pelee area)

Quebec: Gatineau River, L’Assomption River/Ouareau River, Richelieu River, Saint-François River, and des Anglais River/aux Outardes Est River/Trout River/Châteauguay River.

6. Broad Strategies and General Approaches to Meet Objectives

6.1 Recommended Scale for Recovery

The Channel Darter is best suited for a single-species recovery strategy.  While other species at risk co-occur with Channel Darter (e.g., Eastern Sand Darter [Ammocrypta pellucida], River Redhorse [Moxostoma carinatum], Hickorynut [Obovaria olivaria]), its distribution does not closely coincide with other species at risk throughout the entirety of its Canadian range.  Also, it is not restricted to a particular habitat type (e.g., stream, river or lake) or ecosystem that would make it a good candidate for an ecosystem-based strategy.  Parts of the Channel Darter’s Canadian range do overlap with other ecosystem-based recovery strategies (i.e., Walpole Island and the Essex-Erie region) and these recovery initiatives will complement the single-species focus for the Channel Darter.

6.2 Actions Already Completed or Currently Underway

Ontario:

  • In 2002 and 2003, Channel Darter spawning timing and seasonal habitat use was investigated in the Trent River.
  • Investigation of the impact of Round Goby on the Trent River populations of Channel Darter has been underway since 2009.
  • Studies of the genetic structure of Ontario and Quebec populations are on-going since 2010.
  • The Essex-Erie region ecosystem-based recovery strategy covers 14 fishes at risk, including Channel Darter.  The long-term goal of this strategy is “to maintain and restore ecosystem quality and function in the Essex-Erie region to support viable populations of fish species at risk, across their current and former range” (EERT 2008).  This strategy will benefit Channel Darter populations in Lake St. Clair, the Detroit River, and Lake Erie.
  • The draft Walpole Island ecosystem-based recovery strategy includes several fishes at risk, including the Channel Darter.  The recovery goal of the draft Walpole Island ecosystem recovery strategy is “to conserve and recover the ecosystems of the Walpole Island Territory in a way that is compliant with the Walpole Island First Nation Environmental Philosophy Statement, provides opportunities for cultural and economic development and provides protection and recovery for Canada’s species at risk” (Bowles 2005).
  • Remedial Action Plans have been implemented in the St. Clair River and Detroit River to address impairments to beneficial uses, such as “loss of fish and wildlife habitat”.
  • A baitfish primer (Cudmore and Mandrak 2011) has been developed that identifies the baitfish species of Ontario.  This Primer has been made available to commercial bait harvesters, anglers and the general public via OMNR offices and ServiceOntario offices and the DFO website.
  • Changes to the Ontario Fishery Regulations (OFR 2007) were updated and became effective in January 2008.  The list of fishes that legally could be used live as bait was refined from family taxon groupings to 48 species; fishes considered to be at risk (including the Channel Darter) or invasive were excluded from the list.  Also, the OFR (2007) prohibit the possession, or use as bait, of invasive fishes (including Round Goby) or live fishes that are not a species of baitfish.  Starting in 2007, some commercial bait harvesters were required to participate in mandatory training and complete a HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) plan before being issued a licence (as of 2010, all must meet these requirements).  Commercial bait dealers have been required to complete HACCP plans since 2007.  The implementation of HACCP plans minimizes the risk of spreading invasive species and of selling non-target species.
  • A graduate student from the University of Toronto has conducted a study to examine the impacts of baitfish harvesting on species at risk and the distribution and spread of invasive species (Drake 2011).  The study was conducted in cooperation with DFO.
  • See Appendix G for details on recent surveys that have been conducted by various agencies within areas of Channel Darter occurrence.

Quebec:

  • A provincial recovery strategy for the Channel Darter was developed by the province of Quebec in 2001 (Équipe de rétablissement du fouille-roche gris 2001) and is currently being revised.
  • A report was published in 2003 (Massé and Bilodeau 2003) on the verification of correct identification of percid specimens in the Faune Québec biological collection (captured between 1928 and 2002).  This report presents the results of the new identifications and an update of the list of captures since the publication of the Channel Darter provincial recovery plan in 2001.
  • A guide on proper techniques of sampling to lower instances of injuries or death of Channel Darter, as well as to reduce habitat disturbance was produced (Letendre and Leclerc, MRNF, unpublished).  A monitoring protocol has also been developed (Couillard et al. 2011).
  • Numerous watershed committees have completed targeted Channel Darter sampling in various watercourses within their territories.  They have also conducted awareness raising activities with riverside owners and farmers (e.g., guidance book for riverside property owners, information booth, pamphlet).  The Corporation de l’aménagement de la rivière L’Assomption (CARA), the Société de conservation et d’aménagement du bassin de la rivière Chateauguay (SCABRIC), the Comité de concertation et de valorisation de la rivière Richelieu (COVABAR) and Ambioterra have been notably involved in these activities.
  • Many surveys were conducted by biologists of the MRNF in different watercourse where the Channel Darter is found (e.g., Saint-François, Richelieu, Ottawa and St. Lawrence rivers), under the work of the Réseau de suivi Ichtyologique (RSI).
  • A master thesis study was done to characterize summer habitat use of the Channel Darter in the Gatineau and Richelieu rivers (Boucher 2006).
  • An awareness pamphlet was published by the MRNF on Channel Darter to provide information to the public on its precarious status and to propose means of action to insure its protection.  In addition, an identification pamphlet was produced by DFO to help the public to recognize Channel Darter and to inform them that there is a legal obligation to release them alive if incidentally captured.
  • The Channel Darter’s vulnerability to baitfish fisheries was assessed (Boucher et al. 2006, Garceau et al. in press).
  • In 2009, the province of Quebec added the Channel Darter to the list of species prohibited for use as baitfish, and closed some areas to commercial baitfish harvesting where the probability of catching the species was high.
  • See appendices E and F for details on recent surveys that have been conducted by various agencies within areas of Channel Darter occurrence.

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6.3 Strategic Direction for Recovery

The overall approaches recommended to meet the population and distribution objectives have been organized into five categories: 1) Research; 2) Monitoring; 3) Management and Coordination; 4) Protection, Restoration and Stewardship; and, 5) Communication and Public Awareness.  Each category is summarized in a table detailing strategies for recovery with a priority ranking (high, medium, low), a description of the threat addressed and the associated level of concern.  A more detailed narrative is provided below in Section 6.4 (Narrative to support the recovery planning table) when further explanation is required.  Implementation of the following approaches will be accomplished in coordination with relevant organizations in Ontario and Quebec.  Priority will be given to highly ranked Research and Monitoring Activities (Tables 4 and 5), as the resulting data will be used to inform the approaches in Tables 6 to 8.

Table 4 is captioned “Recovery planning table – research approaches.”  There are four columns and eleven rows.  The first row is column headings.  Reading from left to right, the first column is Priority (ranked High, Medium, Low).  The next columns, reading from left to right are: Threat (any or all of -shoreline modifications, altered flow regimes, barriers to movements, turbidity and sediment loading, nutrient loading, contaminants and toxic substances, invasive species and disease, and incidental harvest, as listed in Tables 3a and 3b); Broad Strategy to Address Threat (each approach is assigned an identifier 1 and numbered consecutively moving down the rows); and General Description of Research and Management Activities to Meet Objectives.  The remaining ten rows describe approaches to address specific threats.  Row one in the following description is the row immediately following the column headings.  The rows are organized in descending order of priority, beginning with High.  The table is read by row.  Row 1 is Priority, High; Threat, All; Broad Strategy to Address Threat 1-1a. Research – habitat requirements; General Description of Research and Management Activities to Meet Objectives, Determine the seasonal habitat requirements, including species movement and migration, of all life-stages of the Channel Darter.  Row 2 is Priority, High; Threat, All; Broad Strategy to Address Threat 1-1b. Research – habitat requirements; General Description of Research and Management Activities to Meet Objectives, Identify thresholds of tolerance to habitat modifications (e.g., flow) to determine what constitutes destruction of critical habitat for Channel Darter.

......Read the remainder of the table by row.

Table 4. Recovery planning table - research approaches.
PriorityThreatBroad strategy to address threatGeneral description of research and management activities to meet objectives
HighAll1-1a. Research – habitat requirementsDetermine the seasonal habitat requirements, including species movement and migration, of all life stages of the Channel Darter. 
HighAll1-1b. Research – habitat requirementsIdentify thresholds of tolerance to habitat modifications (e.g., flow) to determine what constitutes destruction of critical habitat for the Channel Darter.
HighAll1-2. Research – life historyDetermine the life history of the Channel Darter (e.g., population dynamics, feeding) and interactions with other species (e.g., predation, competition).
HighAll1-3. Research – water quality parametersDetermine the physiological tolerance thresholds of the Channel Darter with respect to various water quality parameters (e.g., dissolved oxygen, nutrients, contaminants and toxic substances) and check against existing standards.
HighAll1-4. Research -threat evaluationInvestigate potential threats such as invasive species, baitfish harvesting and sources of contamination and toxic substances (e.g., discharge from wastewater treatment facilities).  Consider the development of a map highlighting general habitat areas and major threats to allow analysis of cumulative effects.
HighAll1-5.  Research – re-establishment methods/
feasibility
Investigate the feasibility of various re-establishment approaches for the Channel Darter and identify appropriate source populations.
HighAll1-6. Re-Establishment – evaluation of potential sitesDetermine if there are extirpated or new sites that are suitable for threat mitigation or habitat restoration for potential re-establishment.
HighAll1-7. Release and evaluationUndertake an experimental re-establishment, monitor and evaluate its success.
HighAll1-8. Research - geneticsAssess genetic variation across the global range and investigate population structure among/within Canadian populations.
LowAll1-9. Habitat modelDevelop a predictive habitat model to identify potential Channel Darter sites and areas containing significant habitat.

Table 5 is captioned “Recovery planning table – monitoring approaches.”  This table has the same structure as Table 4, with the same columns but eight rows.  The first row is column headings.  Reading from left to right, the first column is Priority (ranked High, Medium, Low).  The next columns, reading from left to right are: Threat (any or all of -shoreline modifications, altered flow regimes, barriers to movements, turbidity and sediment loading, nutrient loading, contaminants and toxic substances, invasive species and disease, and incidental harvest, as listed in Tables 3a and 3b); Broad Strategy to Address Threat (each approach is assigned an identifier 2 and numbered consecutively moving down the rows); and General Description of Research and Management Activities to Meet Objectives.  The remaining seven rows describe monitoring approaches to address specific threats.  Row one in the following description is the row immediately following the column headings.  The rows are organized in descending order of priority, beginning with High.  The table is read by row.  Row 1 is Priority, High; Threat, All; Broad Strategy to Address Threat, 2-1a.  Background surveys – extant occurrences; General Description of Research and Management Activities to Meet Objectives, Complete targeted surveys of extant populations using gear types proven effective at detecting Channel Darter.  Row 2 is Priority, High; Threat, All; Broad Strategy to Address Threat, 2-1b. Background surveys – Little Rideau Creek/Ottawa River; General Description of Research and Management Activities to Meet Objectives, Conduct extensive surveys on Little Rideau Creek and the Ottawa River (and tributaries) to determine whether a resident population exists in Little Rideau Creek.  Surveys in the Ottawa River (and tributaries) to be informed through distribution of Channel Darter on Quebec side of the river.

......Read the remainder of the table by row.

Table 5. Recovery planning table - monitoring approaches.
PriorityThreatBroad strategy to address threatGeneral description of research and management activities to meet objectives
HighAll2-1a. Background surveys – extant occurrencesComplete targeted surveys of extant populations using gear types proven effective at detecting Channel Darter.
HighAll2-1b. Background surveys – Little Rideau Creek/Ottawa RiverConduct extensive surveys on Little Rideau Creek and the Ottawa River (and tributaries) to determine whether a resident population exists in Little Rideau Creek.  Surveys in the Ottawa River (and tributaries) to be informed through distribution of Channel Darter on Quebec side of the river.
HighAll2-2. Background Surveys – historical occurrencesConduct targeted surveys at historical Channel Darter locations using gear types proven effective at detecting the species.
HighAll2-3. Background surveys – potential new occurrencesConduct targeted surveys for undetected populations in high probability areas with suitable habitat.
HighAll2-4. Monitoring – populations and habitatDevelop and implement a standardized index population and habitat monitoring program with a specific sampling and training protocol.
HighAll2-5. Spawning habitatLocate spawning locations and characterize habitat present.
MediumAll2-6. Monitoring – restored sitesMonitor sites where threat mitigation and/or habitat restoration activities occurred to determine success of actions and to monitor Channel Darter populations.

Table 6 is captioned “Recovery planning table – management and coordination approaches.”  This table has the same structure as Tables 4 and 5, with the same columns but seven rows.  The first row is column headings.  Reading from left to right, the first column is Priority (ranked High, Medium, Low).  The next columns, reading from left to right are: Threat (any or all of -shoreline modifications, altered flow regimes, barriers to movements, turbidity and sediment loading, nutrient loading, contaminants and toxic substances, invasive species and disease, and incidental harvest, as listed in Tables 3a and 3b); Broad Strategy to Address Threat (each approach is assigned an identifier 3 and numbered consecutively moving down the rows); and General Description of Research and Management Activities to Meet Objectives.  The remaining six rows describe management and coordination approaches to address specific threats.  Row one in the following description is the row immediately following the column headings.  The rows are organized in descending order of priority, beginning with High.  The table is read by row.  Row 1 is Priority, High; Threat, All; Broad Strategy to Address Threat, 3-1. Coordination with other recovery teams and relevant organizations; General Description of Research and Management Activities to Meet Objectives, Work with relevant organizations (e.g., conservation authorities, OMNR, MRNF, First Nations) and ecosystem/single species – based recovery teams to share knowledge, combine resources, implement recovery actions and ensure a coordinated approach to recovery.  Row 2 is Priority, High; Threat, Altered flow regimes; Broad Strategy to Address Threat, 3-2.Resource management - flow-needs assessment; General Description of Research and Management Activities to Meet Objectives, Conduct flow-needs assessments at hydroelectric dams and navigable waterways (e.g., seaway) and determine how water level management can be improved to mitigate impacts on Channel Darter (e.g., adopt minimum low-flow level recommendations during sensitive life history stages such as spawning).

......Read the remainder of the table by row.

Table 6. Recovery planning table  - management and coordination approaches.
PriorityThreatBroad strategy to address threatGeneral description of research and management activities to meet objectives
HighAll3-1. Coordination with other recovery teams and relevant organizationsWork with relevant organizations (e.g., conservation authorities, OMNR, MRNF, First Nations) and ecosystem/single species – based recovery teams to share knowledge, combine resources, implement recovery actions and ensure a coordinated approach to recovery.
HighAltered flow regimes3-2.Resource management - flow-needs assessmentConduct flow-needs assessments at hydroelectric dams and navigable waterways (e.g., seaway) and determine how water level management can be improved to mitigate impacts on the Channel Darter (e.g., adopt minimum low-flow level recommendations during sensitive life history stages such as spawning).
HighBarriers to movement; altered flow regimes; shoreline modifications3-3.Resource management – planning, permittingRecommend consideration of the Channel Darter’s needs when developing projects at the design stage (i.e., proponents) and when issuing permits (i.e., resource managers).
HighAll3-4. Survey
requirements
For medium- or high-risk projects in locations without Channel Darter records but with a high probability that the species is there (i.e., within the geographic range of the Channel Darter, and containing suitable habitat), ensure that proponents conduct appropriately timed, targeted surveys using gear types proven effective at detecting Channel Darter.
MediumAll3-5.Communication - Ddata and reportingDevelop a central provincial database for species records in Quebec and integrate recent and historic Channel Darter observation data.
LowAll3-6. Communication- cooperation/ coordination with adjacent U.S. statesEstablish a co-operative relationship with neighbouring U.S. jurisdictions responsible for Channel Darter management.

Table 7 is captioned “Recovery planning table – protection, restoration and stewardship approaches”.  This table has the same structure as Tables 4,5 and 6, with the same columns but eight rows.  The first row is column headings.  Reading from left to right, the first column is Priority (ranked High, Medium, Low).  The next columns, reading from left to right are: Threat (any or all of -shoreline modifications, altered flow regimes, barriers to movements, turbidity and sediment loading, nutrient loading, contaminants and toxic substances, invasive species and disease, and incidental harvest, as listed in Tables 3a and 3b); Broad Strategy to Address Threat (each approach is assigned an identifier 4 and numbered consecutively moving down the rows); and General Description of Research and Management Activities to Meet Objectives.  The remaining seven rows describe protection, restoration and stewardship approaches to address specific threats.  Row one in the following description is the row immediately following the column headings.  The rows are organized in descending order of priority, beginning with High.  The table is read by row.  Row 1 is Priority, High; Threat, All; Broad Strategy to Address Threat, 4-1.Stewardship- watershed efforts; General Description of Research and Management Activities to Meet Objectives, Encourage stewardship efforts with waterpower industry, agricultural, urban and industrial sectors in watersheds with Channel Darter.  Row 2 is Priority, High; Threat, All; Broad Strategy to Address Threat, 4-2.Best management practices; General Description of Research and Management Activities to Meet Objectives, Encourage the implementation of Best Management Practices (BMPs) or similar practices within the agriculture and forestry industries (OMAFRA/MAPAQ and OMNR/MRNF), private forest management agencies, waterpower industry, other resource managers, public and private landowners and First Nations.

......Read the remainder of the table by row.

Table 7. Recovery planning table - protection, restoration and stewardship approaches.
PriorityThreatBroad strategy to address threatGeneral description of research and management activities to meet objectives
HighAll4-1.Stewardship- watershed effortsEncourage stewardship efforts with waterpower industry, agricultural, urban and industrial sectors in watersheds with Channel Darter.
HighAll4-2.Best management practicesEncourage the implementation of Best Management Practices (BMPs) or similar practices within the agriculture and forestry industries (OMAFRA/MAPAQ and OMNR/MRNF), private forest management agencies, waterpower industry, other resource managers public and private landowners and First Nations.
HighAll4-3.Restoration and threat mitigation – occupied habitatIdentify extant habitat that would benefit from specific threat mitigation or other habitat improvement activities; undertake to the extent possible and monitor results.
MediumAll4-4. Restoration and threat mitigation – potential habitatRestore habitat and mitigate threats at potential Channel Darter re-establishment sites that have been evaluated and deemed suitable.
MediumAll4-5. Waste-water treatmentEnsure proper maintenance of wastewater treatment facilities upstream of areas inhabited by Channel Darter; establish a contingency plan in case of breakdown or intentional shutdown (e.g., for maintenance).
MediumAll4-6.Habitat protectionInvestigate the potential for conservation easements or acquisitions to protect and recover Channel Darter.
MediumAll4-7.Public involvementInvolve local residents, partners, First Nations and appropriate agencies and groups in action planning, habitat improvement and threat mitigation activities.

Table 8 is captioned “Recovery planning table – communication and public awareness approaches”.  This table has the same structure as Tables 4,5,6 and 7, with the same columns but five rows.  The first row is column headings.  Reading from left to right, the first column is Priority (ranked High, Medium, Low).  The next columns, reading from left to right are: Threat (any or all of -shoreline modifications, altered flow regimes, barriers to movements, turbidity and sediment loading, nutrient loading, contaminants and toxic substances, invasive species and disease, and incidental harvest, as listed in Tables 3a and 3b); Broad Strategy to Address Threat (each approach is assigned an identifier 5 and numbered consecutively moving down the rows); and General Description of Research and Management Activities to Meet Objectives.  The remaining four rows describe communication and public awareness approaches to address specific threats.  Row one in the following description is the row immediately following the column headings.  The rows are organized in descending order of priority, beginning with High.  The table is read by row.  Row 1 is Priority, High; Threat, All; Broad Strategy to Address Threat, 5-1.Communication – communication plan; General Description of Research and Management Activities to Meet Objectives, Develop a communications plan that identifies partners, approaches, information products, educational and outreach opportunities, stewardship resources and specific BMPs that will assist with the recovery of this species.  This may also include a public education plan to inform the public regarding the species, where it exists and how to identify it.  This plan should include a focus on awareness of critical habitat and the Species at Risk Act to help ensure compliance with the Act.  Row 2 is Priority, High; Threat, All; Broad Strategy to Address Threat, 5-2. Municipal planning – involvement; General Description of Research and Management Activities to Meet Objectives, Encourage municipalities to address the protection of habitat that is important to Channel Darter in their official plans.

......Read the remainder of the table by row.

Table 8. Recovery planning table - communication and public awareness approaches.
PriorityThreatBroad strategy to address threatGeneral description of research and management activities to meet objectives
HighAll5-1.Communication – communication planDevelop and implement a communications plan that identifies partners, approaches, information products, educational and outreach opportunities, stewardship resources and specific BMPs that will assist with the recovery of this species.  This may also include a public education plan to inform the public regarding the species, where it exists and how to identify it.  This plan should include a focus on awareness of critical habitat and the SARA to help ensure compliance with the Act.
HighAll5-2.Municipal planning – involvementEncourage municipalities to address the protection of habitat that is important to the Channel Darter in their official plans.
HighInvasive species5-3.Public awareness – invasive speciesSupport invasive species awareness initiatives for the public.
MediumBaitfish harvesting5-4.Public awareness – baitfish harvestingDevelop an information campaign for bait fishermen (commercial harvesters, anglers and First Nations) in areas supporting Channel Darter.

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6.4 Narrative to Support the Recovery Planning Table

Research approaches

1-1, 1-2, and 1-3: Further research on Channel Darter habitat requirements is required for improved descriptions and protection of this species’ critical habitat.  Such research is particularly needed for lacustrine habitats, deep riverine habitats, YOY Channel Darter and physiological thresholds for water quality parameters (e.g., contaminants and toxic substances).  For all life stages, research should address the habitat’s physical and chemical characteristics, seasonal patterns of use by the fish, migrations between habitats by this species, and landscape factors (e.g., surficial geology) influencing habitat characteristics.  Landscape factors such as surficial geology and topography have been linked to habitat conditions and species distributions. 

1-4: A variety of potential threats to Channel Darter populations (e.g., invasive species and baitfish harvesting) were identified in the COSEWIC report (Phelps and Francis 2002) and by the recovery team.  The status and certainty of many of these threats were assessed based on a watershed approach in Section 4 (Threats) of this recovery strategy.  This assessment and the cumulative effects of these threats should be confirmed throughout the species’ distribution to ensure that appropriate and defensible recovery actions are undertaken.

1-58:  The disjunct distribution of Canadian Channel Darter populations means that natural re-colonization of extirpated sites will likely not occur.  Therefore, re-establishment efforts would be required at sites where the Channel Darter has been extirpated if it is determined that source populations are robust enough to act as donors.  Re-establishment efforts require research to determine appropriate source populations, identify the most effective method for re-establishment (e.g., translocation of individuals from other populations; or captive rearing and subsequent stocking) and the number of individuals required to create self-sustaining populations.  Re-establishment should follow the American Fisheries Society Guidelines for Introductions of Threatened and Endangered Fishes (PDF; 36 Kb) or the National Code on Introductions and Transfers or Aquatic Organisms (PDF; 198 Kb).

1-6: Before re-establishment or introductions, potential sites require an assessment of: 1) availability of access throughout the project duration; 2) whether the site has been previously inhabited (i.e., extirpated) and if habitat is suitable; and, 3) the extent to which the habitat could be improved and/or threats mitigated.  Extirpated sites that can be made suitable for re-establishment should take precedence over introductions into new sites.

1-7: Whether or not this experimental re-establishment will occur depends on the outcome and recommendation of the feasibility analysis in 1-5 and identification of an appropriate pilot site in 1-6.  If it is decided that the pilot re-establishment should proceed, then this action (release and evaluation) is high priority.  The pilot project should not proceed if the follow-up monitoring and evaluation cannot be completed.  If the feasibility analysis recommends against such a pilot project or it cannot be reasonably assured that these subsequent actions can be included in the pilot project, then this priority should drop to Low or Not Applicable and the pilot project should not proceed.

1-8: Re-establishment efforts need to identify the location of potential source populations and the number of individuals required to establish new, self-sustaining populations.  Ideally, source populations possess a high level of genetic diversity and genetic composition developed under similar historical conditions as the re-establishment site.  Therefore, an assessment of the genetic variation and relatedness of populations across its range and in Canada is required. 

Monitoring approaches

2-1 to 2-3: Focused efforts are required to determine the current distribution of the Channel Darter at extant and historical locations, as well as to detect new populations in high probability locations.  New Channel Darter sites have been recently discovered, suggesting that our knowledge on its distribution is incomplete.  The selection of new sites for monitoring may be aided by reviewing historical studies of Channel Darter distribution as well as museum specimens, particularly in Ontario (Quebec already completed).  Canadian agencies should work with U.S. partners to monitor known populations in U.S. waters of waterbodies shared with Canada.  Sampling methods should be standardized at all sampling sites and include a relevant assessment of habitat features and should employ techniques proven effective at detecting the Channel Darter (see Portt et al. 2008 and Couillard et al. 2011 for effective species-specific sampling methods).  Water depths can prevent the use of sampling gear that is effective at capturing Channel Darter in shallower habitats.  Attempts to capture Channel Darter from deep waters adjacent to Trent River shoals using small mesh gill-nets, and minnow traps were unsuccessful (Reid 2005). Trawling is proving to be an effective method of capturing Channel Darter from deeper riverine habitats that are not accessible to seines or electrofishers.   Recent sampling in the U.S. using an 8 ft mini-Missouri trawl was extremely effective at capturing Channel Darter from such habitat, and from river systems where the species was previously unreported (Herzog et al. 2009). 

2-4: Monitoring populations and habitat will assist with identifying key habitat requirements needed to refine the identification of critical habitat, as well as the implementation of strategies to protect known currently occupied and historically occupied habitats.  The monitoring program should be designed to allow for quantitative tracking of changes in population abundance and demographics, analyses of habitat use and availability, and changes in these parameters over time (with regard to known threats).  It should also have the ability to detect the presence and abundance of invasive species in Channel Darter habitat.  The fish monitoring protocol should have regard for the methodologies used in background survey work and provide guidance on the time of sampling and the types of biological samples that should be collected (e.g., scales, length, and weight).  For populations in Quebec, refer to Couillard et al. (2011).

Tracking temporal changes in habitat condition at monitoring sites would assist in identifying incremental habitat changes and associated impacts to Channel Darter populations.  When combined with population monitoring, it can help determine threshold levels for certain measurable habitat parameters (e.g., turbidity, nutrient content).  As well, it would assist in identifying the need for habitat restoration or mitigation of stressors.  Collecting habitat information would also assist in quantifying the amount of Channel Darter habitat available. 

Management and coordination approaches

3-1: Many of the threats facing the Channel Darter are a result of habitat degradation that affects numerous aquatic species.  Two ecosystem-based recovery strategies (i.e., recovery strategy for the Essex-Erie region and the draft Walpole Island recovery strategy) have incorporated the biological and ecological requirements of the Channel Darter into relevant watershed-based recovery approaches.  A coordinated, cohesive approach between these teams and other relevant management teams that maximizes opportunities to share resources and information is recommended.

3-2: Abrupt reductions in water flow during spawning can cause cessation of courtship activities and Channel Darter to move from spawning locations to deeper areas (Winn 1953).  Flow regulation can also result in the de-watering of shallow shoal habitats used by riverine Channel Darter populations during spring and summer months (Reid 2005).  By considering the flow needs of the Channel Darter, flow regulation and water extraction activities can be undertaken in a manner that would minimize the disturbance; however, it is noted that water level management is a complex issue.  PCA is planning to conduct flow needs assessments for species at risk fishes, including Channel Darter, at their dams on the Trent-Severn Waterway. 

3-4:  Environmental impact assessments of projects affecting Channel Darter waterways should consider effects on the Channel Darter and its habitat.  Targeted Channel Darter inventories, within the range of the species and in areas with suitable habitat but lacking Channel Darter records, completed as required in support of impact assessments of proposed projects would assist recovery efforts by providing distribution and abundance information.

3-5:  Distribution and abundance data from Quebec exist in several locations and formats.  To monitor population abundance, species' distribution and the success of recovery actions, the data must be compiled and shared among agencies.  Associated data standards should also be identified. 

3-6: Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Vermont all support Channel Darter populations, encompassing a range of conservation ranks.  In cases where there are shared Channel Darter-inhabited waterways, maintaining open communication and information sharing about the species should benefit both recovery planning in Canada and in the U.S.

Protection, restoration and stewardship approaches

4-1 and 4-2: The Channel Darter is sensitive to siltation, turbidity and nutrient loading; all contributors to poor water quality.  Supporting stewardship activities, such as planting (agriculture) or leaving riparian buffer strips (forestry), restricting livestock access to streams, preventing untreated or under-treated sewage or manure run-off into waterways and minimizing chemical and fertilizer applications to lands adjacent to waterways, would maintain or improve water quality in Channel Darter watercourses.  BMPs are a good tool to provide clear direction for improved methods of operation for industries such as agriculture or forestry.  To be effective, BMPs should be targeted to address primary threats affecting currently occupied/critical habitat. 

4-3: Several populations have become extirpated in recent years.  Threats and habitat degradation present at extant sites should be evaluated to determine if they pose immediate or long-term risks of extirpation.  Where specific habitat restoration activities or threat mitigation options are available, they should be pursued and then monitored for success.

4-6: Methods of habitat protection also include acquisition, conservation easements and inclusion in conservation plans developed by various levels of government.  While these methods are less utilized for aquatic species than for terrestrial species, they should be considered and pursued as opportunities arise to protect habitat in perpetuity.

4-7:Improvements to watershed water quality requires the involvement of local residents, businesses and organizations.  The earlier into the recovery process that the community is involved, the greater the likelihood of sustained and growing support for recovery actions.  Therefore, it is important to involve the public in the action planning and implementation of recovery.

Communication and public awareness approaches

5-1: The development and implementation of a communications plan will help to coordinate communications and outreach activities, ensure that necessary audiences are targeted with the most appropriate means, and that messages are consistent and accurate.  This high priority action should occur prior to, or concurrent with, all subsequent communications and public outreach-type recovery activities, including any printed materials.  Where appropriate, a multi-species communication approach will be applied to increase efficiency.

5-3 and 5-4: Various organizations have already undertaken public education efforts to prevent the further spread of invasive species.  In the case of the Channel Darter, the Round Goby is of particular concern.  Duplicating efforts or competing for funding benefits no one; instead the Channel Darter recovery team will support and encourage the continuance of these education efforts as they also support Channel Darter recovery.  Developing communications for baitfish harvesters on the presence and identification of the Channel Darter and other fish species at risk would be beneficial, as it may increase reporting of these species and decrease incidental capture/use as a baitfish.  A baitfish primer has already been developed for Ontario (see Cudmore and Mandrak 2011). 

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7. Critical Habitat

7.1 General Identification of the Channel Darter’s Critical Habitat

The identification of critical habitat for Threatened and Endangered species (on Schedule 1) is a requirement of SARA.  Once identified, SARA includes provisions to prevent the destruction of critical habitat.  Critical habitat is defined under section 2(1) of SARA as:

 “…the habitat necessary for the survival or recovery of a listed wildlife species and that is identified as the species’ critical habitat in the recovery strategy or in an action plan for the species”.  [s. 2(1)]

SARA defines habitat for aquatic species at risk as:

“… spawning grounds and nursery, rearing, food supply, migration and any other areas on which aquatic species depend directly or indirectly in order to carry out their life processes, or areas where aquatic species formerly occurred and have the potential to be reintroduced.” [s. 2(1)]

For the Channel Darter, critical habitat has been identified to the extent possible, using the best information currently available.  The critical habitat identified in this recovery strategy describes the geospatial areas that contain the habitat necessary for the survival or recovery of the species.  The current areas identified may be insufficient to achieve the population and distribution objectives for the species.  As such, a schedule of studies has been included to further refine the description of critical habitat (in terms of its biophysical functions/features/attributes as well as its spatial extent) to support its protection.

7.1.1 Information and Methods Used to Identify Critical Habitat

Using the best available information at the time this recovery strategy was developed (surveys conducted up to 2009), critical habitat has been identified using a ‘bounding box’ approach for the locations in Ontario and Quebec where the species presently occurs within the ten locations referenced in the current distribution objective. This approach requires the use of essential functions, features and attributes, where possible for each life stage of the Channel Darter to identify patches of critical habitat within the ‘bounding box’, which is defined by occupancy data for the species.  Life stage habitat information was summarized in chart form using available data and studies referred to in Section 3.3 (Habitat and biological needs).  The ‘bounding box’ approach was the most appropriate, given the limited information available for the species and the lack of detailed habitat mapping for these areas.  Where habitat information was available, it was used to inform identification of critical habitat.

Site specific methods and data used to identify critical habitat are summarized below.  The critical habitat description includes the entire ‘bankfull’ channel, which plays an essential role in maintaining channel flowing forms, for all cases in Ontario and Quebec except Lake Erie (Point Pelee).

Ontario

In Ontario, critical habitat was identified based on a ‘bounding box’ approach and further refined for riverine populations with an ecological classification system, the Aquatic Landscape Inventory System (ALIS).  ALIS was developed by the OMNR to define stream segments based on a number of unique characteristics found only within those valley segments.  Each valley segment is defined by a collection of landscape variables that are believed to have a controlling effect on the biotic and physical processes within the catchment (e.g., ecological landscape changes, barriers).  Therefore, if a population has been found in one part of the ecological classification, there is no reason to believe that it would not be found in other spatially contiguous areas of the same valley segment.  Critical habitat for the Channel Darter within riverine systems was therefore identified as the reach of river that includes all contiguous ALIS segments from the uppermost stream segment with the species present to the lowermost stream segment with the species present.  Note that intermediate ALIS segments (between the upper and lower most occupied segments) with insufficient sampling to detect the presence of the species have been included within the critical habitat extent.  

Critical habitat for Channel Darter has not been identified at this time in the Detroit River, St. Clair River or Lake St. Clair.  No specimens were captured during intensive sampling of historical sites near the outlet of the Detroit River in 2005 and 2006.  The most recent Channel Darter specimen (a single specimen) was captured in the Detroit River at the inlet of the river from Lake St. Clair in 2009 (Bouvier and Mandrak 2010).  Additional areas of potential critical habitat in Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair River will be considered in collaboration with Walpole Island First Nation.

Specific methods and data used for locations within Ontario to identify critical habitat are summarized below.

Little Rideau Creek/Ottawa River: Two Channel Darter records (1989, 2004) exist for Little Rideau Creek near the confluence with the Ottawa River (Canadian Distribution Database 1989, Dextrase and Reid 2004).  As these records are found near the end of the ALIS segment adjacent to the Ottawa River, the end of the segment was buffered using a minimum area for population viability (described later in this section) of 0.04 km².  However, given the proximity of the records to the Ottawa River, further sampling is required at this location to determine if the records represent a resident population in Little Rideau Creek or a population in the Ottawa River.

Trent, Moira (Black and Skootamatta rivers) and Salmon rivers: Critical habitat was identified in the Trent River using data from the following datasets: Reid (2001, 2004, 2009), Portt and Associates (2004, 2008), Canadian Distribution Database (1976, 1997), and the Royal Ontario Museum database (1998, 1999).  For the Salmon River, sampling data from Reid et al. (2005), Eco Tec Consultants (2007, 2008), and Reid (2009) were used.  Sampling data from Reid (2004) and Reid et al. (2005) were used to identify critical habitat in the Moira River and two of its tributaries, the Black and Skootamatta rivers.  The species is believed to be extirpated from an un-named creek that flows into the Moira River (Phelps and Francis 2002) and critical habitat was not identified at this location.
  
Lake Erie – Point Pelee (Ontario): Channel Darter records from 1928 to 2009 exist for this location; the data used to identify critical habitat came from the Canadian Distribution Database, Essex Region Conservation Authority, the OMNR Lake Erie Management Unit, and Reid (2005).  As this is not a riverine population, critical habitat for the Channel Darter in Lake Erie at Point Pelee was identified based on the ‘bounding box’ approach and refined using available habitat data (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA] bathymetry, high water mark [HWM] and a shoreline classification system). 

The HWM is the guideline elevation used by DFO to determine the minimum elevation that is considered as the (upshore) boundary for fish habitat and corresponds to the 80th percentile elevation for the month in which the highest annual water level occurs (i.e., 80% of the time the water level is at or below this elevation) (DFO 2005) and as such, has been used to define the upshore boundary of critical habitat in this area.  The area below the HWM may or may not be inundated depending upon current water levels (i.e., seasonal and cyclical water fluctuations).

The shoreline of Lake Erie has been segmented into reaches and classified based on the geomorphic nature of the shoreline (categories included sandy beach/dunes, coarse beaches, clay banks, etc.), littoral areas (clay, sand, bedrock etc.), and the extent of shoreline protection (i.e., shoreline hardening) (Great Lakes Commission 2000).  This system was used to refine the length of shoreline defined as critical habitat for Channel Darter by eliminating types of habitat not believed to be utilized by the species in lacustrine habitat.  See Table 9a for a description of the features of critical habitat for this species.  

The 2 m NOAA bathymetry contour was used to further define the lower extent of critical habitat for this species as targeted sampling for Channel Darter has occurred in waters 1.5 m or less (wadeable depth).  The extent to which this species utilizes waters deeper than 2 m is not well documented.  Future targeted sampling at depths greater than ~2 m may result in the refinement of this critical habitat extent.

Quebec

In Quebec, a broad scale landscape inventory system (similar to ALIS) was not available. Critical habitat identification in Quebec was also based on a ‘bounding box’ approach and has been limited to locations where habitat surveys have been conducted and where Channel Darter records have been verified within the last ten years, including sampling conducted in 2009.  This approach was also justified by the fact that habitat characteristics may vary from one watershed to another (e.g., Gatineau and Richelieu rivers [Boucher et al. 2009]).  The habitat characteristics related to specific locations within Quebec are presented in Section 7.1.3 (Identification of critical habitat: geospatial).

The most upstream and downstream of these stations where Channel Darter were captured have been used to set the limits of the watercourse segment within which critical habitat is found.

For the locations where Channel Darter has been confirmed but no habitat characterization has been conducted, further studies (see schedule of studies) will be required to better describe and understand the specific habitat characteristics associated with the presence of Channel Darter.

Outaouais and Montreal hydrographic region: Critical habitat in the Gatineau River was identified using data from Lemieux et al. (2005), Boucher (2006), and Boucher et al. (2009).

St. Lawrence northeast hydrographic region: Channel Darter have been sampled in L’Assomption River and its tributary, the Ouareau River, by the Corporation d’Aménagement de la Rivière L’Assomption in 2002 and 2009 (CARA 2002, Bourgeois 2010).  These data were used in the identification of critical habitat.

St. Lawrence southwest hydrographic region: Sampling data used in the identification of critical habitat for Channel Darter in the Richelieu River were taken from studies completed by Boucher et al. (2009) and Vachon (2007), and information received directly from MRNF (N. Vachon, MRNF, pers. comm. 2010). 

Channel Darter were captured in the Saint-François River between 1998 and 2003 during an environmental study and in 2008 and 2009 by the MRNF during targeted sampling that also collected habitat data (S. Garceau, MRNF, pers. comm. 2010).  Data from these last surveys were used in the identification of critical habitat in the Saint-François River.

Studies completed by Garceau et al. (2007) and Ambioterra (2010) were used to help define critical habitat in the des Anglais, aux Outardes Est, Trout, and Châteauguay rivers.

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7.1.2   Identification of Critical Habitat: Biophysical Functions, Features and Their Attributes

There is limited information on the habitat needs for the various life stages of the Channel Darter.  Tables 9a and 9b summarize available knowledge on the essential functions, features and attributes for each life stage within Ontario and Quebec, respectively (refer to Section 3.3 Habitat and biological needs for references).  Areas identified as critical habitat must support one or more of these habitat functions.  

In Quebec, studies have demonstrated that habitat characteristics can vary from one watershed to another.  Most studies were also limited to sampling adult fish and their habitat.  Considering this variance and the fact that the Channel Darter is a small fish with limited dispersal, the habitat characteristics have been described for all life stages.  It is important to note that a suitable habitat does not need to contain all of these characteristics to be considered as critical habitat.  Furthermore, values are given as indicators and may vary in time and space (e.g., current velocity and depth in spring flood vs. summer or fall drought). 

Table 9a is captioned “Essential functions, features and attributes of critical habitat for each life stage of Channel Darter for Ontario*.“  The asterisk directs the reader to a comment below the table “where known or supported by existing data”.  There are four columns and four rows.  The first row is column headings.  Reading from left to right, the columns are Life Stage, Habitat Requirement (Function), Feature(s), and Attribute(s).  Row one in the following description is the row immediately following the column headings.  The table is read by rows.  Row 1, reading from left to right is Life Stage, Spawn to larvae; Habitat Requirement (Function), Migration, Spawning, Nursery, (June and July); Feature(s), Riffles, runs, shoals, backwater areas and pools in streams and rivers, Shoals in lakes; Attributes, Moderate to fast current (e.g., 0.46 m/s), Clean, coarse substrates (e.g., gravel and smooth rocks), Shallow depths (e.g., 2m), Warm water temperatures (e.g., 14.5 to 25oC), Males establish spawning territory around a large rock in current.  Row 2 Life Stage, Juveniles (there is little known about juvenile habitat requirements), (young of year); Habitat Requirement (Function), rearing; Feature(s), Riffles, runs, shoals, backwater areas and pools in streams and rivers; Attribute(s), Slow current (e.g., 0.39 to 0.48 m/s), Sand and gravel substrates, Shallow depths (e.g., <5m).  Row 3 Life Stage, Adult; Habitat Requirement (Function), feeding; Feature(s), Riffles, runs, shoals, backwater areas and pools in streams and rivers, Gravel and coarse sand beaches (Lake Erie); Attribute(s), Slow to moderate current (e.g., 0.39 to 0.48 m/s) or gentle wave action, Cobble, gravel and sand substrates, Usually shallow depths (e.g., <0.60 m), Minimal to sparse aquatic vegetation, Good water quality (i.e., low turbidity, sufficient dissolved oxygen, low pollution levels), Availability of prey (benthic macroinvertebrates).

Table 9a. Essential functions, features and attributes of critical habitat for each life stage of the Channel Darter forOntario*.
Life stageHabitat requirement
(function)
Feature(s)Attribute(s)
Spawn to larvaeMigration
Spawning
Nursery
(June and July)
Riffles, runs, shoals, backwater areas and pools in streams and rivers Shoals in lakes
  • Moderate to fast current (e.g., 0.46 m/s)
  • Clean, coarse substrates (e.g., gravel and smooth rocks)
  • Shallow depths (e.g., 2 m)
  • Warm water temperatures (e.g., 14.5 to 25°C )
  • Males establish spawning territory around a large rock in current
Juveniles**
(YOY)
RearingRiffles, runs, shoals, backwater areas and pools in streams and rivers
  • Slow current (e.g., 0.39 to 0.48 m/s)
  • Sand and gravel substrates
  • Shallow depths (e.g., <5 m)
AdultFeedingRiffles, runs, shoals, backwater areas and pools in streams and rivers Gravel and coarse sand beaches (Lake Erie)
  • Slow to moderate current (e.g., 0.39 to 0.48 m/s) or gentle wave action
  • Cobble, gravel and sand substrates
  • Usually shallow depths (e.g., <0.60 m)
  • Minimal to sparse aquatic vegetation
  • Good water quality (i.e., low turbidity, sufficient dissolved oxygen, low pollution levels)
  • Availability of prey (benthic macroinvertebrates)

*Where known or supported by existing data
** There is little known about juvenile habitat requirements

Table 9b is captioned “Essential functions, features and attributes of critical habitat for all life stages of Channel Darter for Quebec*.”  The asterisk directs the reader to a comment below the table “where known or supported by existing data”.  The structure is the same as for Table 9a with four columns but two rows.  The first row is column headings.  Reading from left to right, the columns are Life Stage, Habitat Requirements (Function), Feature(s), and Attribute(s).  Row one in the following description is the row immediately following the column headings.  The table is read by rows.  Row 1, reading from left to right is Life Stage, All; Habitat Requirements (Function), Spawning, Nursery, Rearing (juveniles), Feeding (adults), Migration; Feature(s), Riffles, shoals, nearshore areas, backwaters and pools in streams and large rivers; Attributes, Lotic (running) waters with current velocity (slow to moderate), varying on a 12 month basis, Depth of up to 2 m, Coarse substrate (sand (1-2.9 mm), gravel (3-64.9 mm), cobble (65-255 mm)), Minimal aquatic vegetation, Generally low turbidity, Availability of prey (benthic macroinvertebrates).

Table 9b Essential functions, features and attributes of critical habitat for all life stages of the Channel Darter forQuebec*.
Life stageHabitat requirements
(function)
FeaturesAttributes
AllSpawning,
Nursery,
Rearing (juveniles),
Feeding (adults),
Migration
Riffles, shoals, nearshore areas, backwater and pools in streams and rivers
  • Lotic (running) waters with current velocity (slow to moderate), varying on a 12 month basis
  • Depth up to 2 m
  • Coarse substrate (sand [1-2.9 mm], gravel [3-64.9 mm], cobble [65-255 mm])
  • Minimal aquatic vegetation
  • Generally low turbidity
  • Availability of prey (benthic macroinvertebrates)

*Where known or supported by existing data

Studies to further refine knowledge on the essential functions, features and attributes for various life stages of the Channel Darter are described in Section 7.2 (Schedule of studies to identify critical habitat).

7.1.3 Identification of Critical Habitat: Geospatial

Using the best available information at the time this recovery strategy was developed (surveys conducted up to 2009), critical habitat has been identified in Ontario and Quebec for Channel Darter in the following locations:

Ontario:

  • Little Rideau Creek/Ottawa River
  • Trent, Moira/Black/Skootamatta rivers, and Salmon River
  • The western basin of Lake Erie (Point Pelee)

Quebec:

  • Gatineau River
  • L’Assomption River/Ouareau River
  • Richelieu River
  • Saint-François River
  • des Anglais River/aux Outardes Est River/Trout River/Châteauguay River

Areas of critical habitat identified at these locations may overlap with habitat known to support other species at risk; however, the specific habitat requirements within these areas may vary by species.

The areas delineated on the following maps (Figures 7-18) represent the area within which critical habitat is found at this time.  Using the ‘bounding box’ approach, critical habitat is not comprised of all areas within the identified boundaries, but only those areas where the specified biophysical features/attributes occur (refer to Tables 9 a and 9b).  Tables 10a and 10b below provide the geographic coordinates that situate the boundaries within which critical habitat is found for Channel Darter at the locations listed above; these points are indicated on Figures 7, and 9-18). Note that existing marinas and navigation channels are anthropogenic structures, which are specifically excluded from critical habitat if located within the delineated areas; it is understood that maintenance or replacement of these features may be required at times.  Brief explanations for the areas identified as critical habitat are provided below.

Table 10a is captioned “Coordinates locating the boundaries within which critical habitat is found for Channel Darter in Ontario”.  There are two columns and eight rows.  The first row is column headings.  Reading from left to right, the columns are Waterbody and Coordinates Locating Areas of Critical Habitat – this column is subdivided into four columns as follows: Point 1 (NW), Point 2 (NE), Point 3 (SE), and Point 4 (SW).  Row one in the following description is the row immediately following the column headings.  The table is read by row.  Row 1, reading from left to right is Waterbody, Little Rideau Creek; Point 1 (NW), 45°34’20.827”N 74°31’49.498”W; Point 2 (NE), 45°35’11.088”N 74°31’11.190”W; Point 3 (SE), 45°35’14.582”N 74°31’02.069”W; Point 4 (SW), 45°35’11.011”N 74°30’52.823”W.  Row 2 Waterbody, Moira River; Point 1 (NW) 44°29’55.273”N 77°36’46.551”W; Point 2 (NE) 44°09’35.584”N 77°23’02.505”W; Point 3 (SE), n/a; Point 4 (SW), n/a. Row 3 Waterbody, Black River; Point 1 (NW) 44°32’02.852”N 77°22’12.018”W; Point 2 (NE) 44°31’47.623”N 77°22’16.520”W; Point 3 (SE), n/a; Point 4 (SW), n/a.  Row 4 Waterbody, Trent River; Point 1 (NW), 44°15’47.902’N 77°36’ 09.845”W; Point 2 (NE), 44°06’34.174”N 77°35’19.956”W; Point 3 (SE), n/a; Point 4 (SW), n/a. Row 5 Waterbody, Skootamatta River; Point 1 (NW), 44°37’02.412”N 77°13’59.405”W; Point 2 (NE), 44°31’09.305”N 77°20’24.210”W; Point 3 (SE), n/a; Point 4 (SW), n/a.  Row 6 Waterbody, Salmon River; Point 1 (NW), 44°20’03.477”N 77°02’46.945”W; Point 2 (NE), 44°11’47.117”N 77°13’44.908”W; Point 3 (SE), n/a; Point 4 (SW), n/a.  Row 7 Waterbody, Point Pelee; Point 1 (NW), 42°01’53.445”N 82°37’25.255”W; Point 2 (NE), 41°59’14.773”N 82°29’52.422”W; Point 3 (SE), n/a; Point 4 (SW), n/a.

Table 10a. Coordinates locating the boundaries within which critical habitat is found for the Channel Darter in Ontario.
WaterbodyCoordinates locating areas of critical habitat
Point 1 (NW)Point 2 (NE)Point 3 (SE)Point 4 (SW)
Little Rideau Creek45°34’20.827”N
74°31’49.498”W
45°35’11.088”N
74°31’11.190”W
45°35’14.582”N
74°31’02.069”W
45°35’11.011”N
74°30’52.823”W
Moira River*44°29’55.273”N
77°36’46.551”W
44°09’35.584”N
77°23’02.505”W
n/an/a
Black River*44°32’02.852”N
77°22’12.018”W
44°31’47.623”N
77°22’16.520”W
n/an/a
Trent River*44°15’47.902’N
77°36’ 09.845”W
44°06’34.174”N
77°35’19.956”W
n/an/a
Skootamatta River*44°37’02.412”N
77°13’59.405”W
44°31’09.305”N
77°20’24.210”W
n/an/a
Salmon River*44°20’03.477”N
77°02’46.945”W
44°11’47.117”N
77°13’44.908”W
n/an/a
Point Pelee42°01’53.445”N
82°37’25.255”W
41°59’14.773”N
82°29’52.422”W
n/an/a

* Riverine habitats are delineated to the midpoint of channel of the uppermost stream segment and lowermost stream segment (i.e., two points only)
† All coordinates obtained using map datum NAD 83

Table 10b is captioned “Coordinates locating the boundaries within which critical habitat is found for Channel Darter in Quebec”.  There are two columns and nine rows.  The first row is column headings.  Reading from left to right, the columns are River and Coordinates Locating Areas of Critical Habitat – this column is subdivided into two columns as follows: Point 1 (NW), and Point 2 (NE).   Row one in the following description is the row immediately following the column headings.  The table is read by row.  Row 1, reading from left to right is River, Gatineau River; Point 1 (NW), 45°29’27.568”N 75°45’13.618”W; Point 2 (NE), 45°27’14.079”N 75°41’41.660”W.  Row 2 River, L’Assomption River; Point 1 (NW) 45°59’01.680”N 73°25’01.560”W; Point 2 (NE) 46°04’02.640”N 73°28’11.280”W. Row 3 River, Ouareau River; Point 1 (NW) 45°57’30.420”N 73°27’20.040”W; Point 2 (NE) 45°57’19.080”N 73°26’20.400”W.  Row 4 River, Richelieu River; Point 1 (NW), 45°26’54.128”N 73°15’52.827”W; Point 2 (NE), 46°02’56.714”N 73°07’13.676”W. Row 5 River, Saint-François River; Point 1 (NW), 45°28’25.968”N 71°38’49.992”W; Point 2 (NE), 45°37’39.134”N 72°06’53.038”W.  Row 6 River, Trout/Châteauguay rivers; Point 1 (NW), 45°07’01.129”N 74°05’21.474”W; Point 2 (NE), 45°00’41.880”N 74°18’10.852”W.  Row 7 River, Aux Outardes Est River; Point 1 (NW), 45°03’05.537”N 74°00’52.603”W; Point 2 (NE), 45°06’14.832”N 74°03’54.719”W.  Row 8 River, Anglais River; Point 1 (NW), 45°01’35.873”N 73°40’16.194”W; Point 2 (NE), 45°04’42.540”N 73°42’29.177”W.

Table 10b. Coordinates locating the boundaries within which critical habitat is found for the Channel Darter in Quebec.
WaterbodysCoordinates locating areas of critical habitat
Point 1 (NW)Point 2 (NE)
Gatineau River*45°29’27.568”N
75°45’13.618”W
45°27’14.079”N
75°41’41.660”W
L’Assomption River*45°59’01.680”N
73°25’01.560”W
46°04’02.640”N
73°28’11.280”W
Ouareau River*45°57’30.420”N
73°27’20.040”W
45°57’19.080”N
73°26’20.400”W
Richelieu River*45°26’54.128”N
73°15’52.827”W
46°02’56.714”N
73°07’13.676”W
Saint-François River*45°28’25.968”N
71°38’49.992”W
45°37’39.134”N
72°06’53.038”W
Trout/Châteauguay rivers*45°07’01.129”N
74°05’21.474”W
45°00’41.880”N
74°18’10.852”W
Aux Outardes Est River*45°03’05.537”N
74°00’52.603”W
45°06’14.832”N
74°03’54.719”W
Anglais River*45°01’35.873”N
73°40’16.194”W
45°04’42.540”N
73°42’29.177”W

* Riverine habitats are delineated to the midpoint of channel of the uppermost stream segment and lowermost stream segment (i.e., two points only)
† All coordinates obtained using map datum NAD 83

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Ontario

Little Rideau Creek/Ottawa River: Critical habitat in Little Rideau Creek is currently identified for the Channel Darter within a 2.3 km long reach of the creek extending from just south of Hwy 17 to the mouth of the Ottawa River.  An additional area of 0.04 km² in the Ottawa River, at the confluence of Little Rideau Creek, has also been identified as an area within which critical habitat is found due to the proximity of the sampling data to the Ottawa River (Figure 7).

Figure 7 is captioned “Area within which critical habitat for Channel Darter is found in Little Rideau Creek/Ottawa River.”  The figure is a map of a portion of the Ottawa River showing Little Rideau Creek, with critical habitat identified (shaded in pink).  These areas include a 2.3 km long reach of the creek extending from just south of Hwy 17 to the mouth of the Ottawa River.  An additional area of 0.04 km2 in the Ottawa River, at the confluence of Little Rideau Creek, has also been identified as an area within which critical habitat is found due to the proximity of the sampling data to the Ottawa River.  An inset illustrates the geographical location of the map on a larger scale map.  Individual data points for capture of Channel Darter (1989 - 2004) (black squares) are shown, as well as sites for Ontario fish distribution sampling (1846–2009) (open squares).  Points P1 – P4 indicate the points to locate areas within which critical habitat is found and correspond to the coordinates provided in Table 10a.  A legend and scale are provided.  Map details, provided at the lower right corner, are as follows: Base Map Source: Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (NRVIS), Prepared by Fisheries & Oceans Canada for Ontario Freshwater Fish Recovery Team September 2013.

Figure 7. Area within which critical habitat for Channel Darter is found in Little Rideau Creek/Ottawa River.

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Trent River, Moira/Black/Skootamatta rivers, and Salmon River: Critical habitat for the Channel Darter in the Trent River has been identified within a 22 km long stretch of river extending from the dam at Glen Ross downstream to Trenton.  In the Moira River and its two tributaries,the Black and Skootamatta rivers, critical habitat is identified within a reach approximately 121 km long.  In the Moira River, the area within which critical habitat is found extends from Hwy 7 near Deloro, downstream to Belleville.  The stretch of river where critical habitat is found in the Skootamatta River extends from south of Flinton Road, downstream to the confluence with the Moira River.  In the Black River, critical habitat is found in a reach that extends from just south of West Black River Road downstream to the confluence with the Moira River.  In the Salmon River, critical habitat has been identified within a stretch of river 23 km long from Forest Hill (approximate) downstream to Shannonville (approximate).  See Figures 8 to 12 below.

Figure 8 is captioned “Area within which critical habitat for Channel Darter is found in the Trent, Moira (Black and Skootamatta) and Salmon Rivers.”  The figure is a map of the Trent, Moira (including the Black and Skootamatta rivers), and Salmon rivers, with critical habitat identified (shaded in pink).  An inset illustrates the geographical location of the map on a larger scale map.  Individual data points for capture of Channel Darter (1974–2009) (black squares) are shown, as well as sites for Ontario fish distribution sampling (1846–2009) (open squares)  A legend and scale are provided.  Map details, provided at the lower right corner, are as follows: Base Map Source: Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (NRVIS), Prepared by Fisheries & Oceans Canada for Ontario Freshwater Fish Recovery Team September 2013.

These critical habitat areas are illustrated on larger scale maps (Figures 9–12) and are described below.

Figure 8. Area within which critical habitat for Channel Darter is found in the Trent River, Moira/Black/Skootamatta rivers, and Salmon River.

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Figure 9 is captioned “Area within which critical habitat for Channel Darter is found in the Trent River.”  The figure is a map of the Trent River, with critical habitat identified (shaded in pink).  These areas include a 22 km long stretch of river extending from the dam at Glen Ross downstream to Trenton.  An inset illustrates the geographical location of the map on a larger scale map.  Individual data points for capture of Channel Darter (1976–2009) (black squares) are shown, as well as sites for Ontario fish distribution sampling (1846–2009) (open squares).  Points P1 and P2 indicate the points to locate areas within which critical habitat is found and correspond to the coordinates provided in Table 10a.  A legend and scale are provided.  Map details, provided at the lower right corner, are as follows: Base Map Source: Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (NRVIS), Prepared by Fisheries & Oceans Canada for Ontario Freshwater Fish Recovery Team September 2013.

Figure 9. Area within which critical habitat for Channel Darter is found in the Trent River. 

map

Figure 10 is captioned “Area within which critical habitat for Channel Darter is found in the Moira River and Black River.”  The figure is a map of the Moira and Black rivers, with critical habitat identified (shaded in pink).  In the Moira River, critical habitat extends from Hwy 7 near Deloro, downstream to Belleville.  In the Black River, critical habitat extends from just south of West Black River Rd. downstream to the confluence with the Moira River.  An inset illustrates the geographical location of the map on a larger scale map.  Individual data points for capture of Channel Darter outside of critical habitat (1974–2009) (black triangle), and within critical habitat (1999–2009) (black square) are shown, as well as sites for Ontario fish distribution sampling (1846–2009) (clear square).  Points P1 and P2 indicate the points, on the Moira River, to locate areas within which critical habitat is found and correspond to the coordinates provided in Table 10a. An additional inset provides a close-up of the Black River and points P1 and P2, shown on the inset, indicate the points, on the Black River, to locate areas within which critical habitat is found and correspond to the coordinates provided in Table 10a.  A legend and scale are provided.  Map details, provided at the lower right corner, are as follows: Base map source: Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (NRVIS), Prepared by Fisheries & Oceans Canada for Ontario Freshwater Fish Recovery Team September 2013.

Figure 10. Area within which critical habitat for Channel Darter is found in the Moira River and Black River.

map

Figure 11 is captioned “Area within which critical habitat for Channel Darter is found in the Skootamatta River.”  The figure is a map of the Skootamatta River, with critical habitat identified (shaded in pink).  Critical habitat in the Skootamatta River extends from south of Flinton Road, downstream to the confluence with the Moira River.  An inset illustrates the geographical location of the map on a larger scale map.  Individual data points for capture of Channel Darter within critical habitat (1974–2003) (black square) and outside of critical habitat (2001, 2003) (black triangle) are shown, as well as sites for Ontario fish distribution sampling (1846–2009) (open square).  Points P1 and P2 indicate the points to locate areas within which critical habitat is found and correspond to the coordinates provided in Table 10a.  A legend and scale are provided.  Map details, provided at the lower right corner, are as follows: Base map source: Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (NRVIS), Prepared by Fisheries & Oceans Canada for Ontario Freshwater Fish Recovery Team September 2013.

Figure 11. Area within which critical habitat for Channel Darter is found in the Skootamatta River.

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Figure 12 is captioned “Area within which critical habitat for Channel Darter is found in the Salmon River.”  The figure is a map of the Salmon River, with critical habitat identified (shaded in pink).  Critical habitat in the Salmon River includes a stretch of river 23 km long from Forest Hill (approximate) downstream to Shannonville (approximate).  An inset illustrates the geographical location of the map on a larger scale map.  Individual data points for capture of Channel Darter (2003–2009) (black square)are shown, as well as sites for Ontario fish distribution sampling (1846–2009) (open square).  ).  Points P1 and P2 indicate the points to locate areas within which critical habitat is found and correspond to the coordinates provided in Table 10a. A legend and scale are provided.  Map details, provided at the lower left corner, are as follows: Base map source: Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (NRVIS), Prepared by Fisheries & Oceans Canada for Ontario Freshwater Fish Recovery Team September 2013.

Figure 12. Area within which critical habitat for Channel Darter is found in the Salmon River.

map

Lake Erie - Point Pelee: The area within which critical habitat is found for Channel Darter at Point Pelee is currently identified as the shoreline beginning at the northern boundary of Point Pelee National Park on the eastern side of the peninsula, extending south along the peninsula, encompassing all of the shoreline along the park, and continuing westerly along the shoreline to south of Fraser Road (Leamington) (approximate).  Critical habitat boundaries extend down to the 2 m NOAA bathymetry contour and extend up to the HWM elevation for Lake Erie at 174.62 m above sea level (International Great Lakes Datum 1985).  Refer to Figure 13.

Figure 13 is captioned “Area within which critical habitat for Channel Darter is found in Lake Erie at Point Pelee.”  The figure is a map showing Point Pelee National Park and the adjacent waters of Lake Erie, with critical habitat identified (shaded in pink).  Critical habitat is currently identified as the shoreline beginning at the northern boundary of Point Pelee National Park on the eastern side of the peninsula, extending south along the peninsula, encompassing all of the shoreline in the park, and continuing westerly along the shoreline to south of Fraser Rd. (Leamington) (approximate).  An inset illustrates the geographical location of the map on a larger scale map.  Individual data points for capture of Channel Darter within critical habitat (2005) black square) and outside critical habitat (2009) (black triangle) are shown, as well as sites for Ontario fish distribution sampling (1846–2009) (open squares).  Park and wetland areas are indicated.  Points P1 and P2 indicate the points to locate areas within which critical habitat is found and correspond to the coordinates provided in Table 10a.  A legend and scale are provided.  Map details, provided at the lower left corner, are as follows: Prepared by Fisheries & Oceans Canada for Ontario Freshwater Fish Recovery Team September 2013, Base map source: Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (NRVIS), 2m contour from NOAA Bathymetry of Lake Erie and Lake Saint Clair, v1.

Figure 13. Area within which critical habitat for Channel Darter is found in Lake Erie at Point Pelee.

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Quebec

Outaouais and Montreal hydrographic region:

Gatineau River -The area within which critical habitat is identified in the Gatineau River begins at Farmer Rapids (midway between the Alonzo-Wright Bridge and the Centrale des Rapides-Farmer) and continues to the mouth of the river where it empties into the Outaouais River (Figure 14).  This stretch of river is approximately 6.8 km long.

Boucher et al. (2009) found that Channel Darter was most often found in lotic habitats and that its presence was linked to two variables: current velocity (average of 41 cm/s); and, a light cover of periphyton on the substrate (less than 30% of total substrate area).  All captures took place at depths less than 60 cm and spawning individuals were observed in July (Boucher 2006). Lemieux et al. (2005) have captured adults that seemed to be feeding in nearshore areas in June and July and have identified two spawning sites (presence of eggs) in July, upstream of the Alonzo-Wright  bridge, at a water temperature of 21ºC, depth of 30 to 40 cm and current velocity of 0.24 to 0.60 m/s.  The bed of the spawning areas was mainly composed of cobble with little amounts of sand and gravel.  Comtois et al.(2004) have also captured spawning individuals downstream of the Alonzo-Wright Bridge, between May 20 and June 21, while water temperature was between 14 and 19 ºC.

Figure 14 is captioned “Area within which critical habitat the Channel Darter is found in the Gatineau River.”  The figure is a map showing the Gatineau River, a tributary of the Ottawa River, with critical habitat identified (shaded in pink).  Critical habitat begins at Farmer Rapids (midway between the Alonzo-Wright Bridge and the Centrale des Rapides-Farmer) and continues to the mouth of the river where it empties into the Outaouais River.  This stretch of river is approximately 6.8 km long.  An inset illustrates the geographical location of the map on a larger scale map.  A close-up inset of a portion of the Gatineau River is also provided.  Individual data points indicate presence of Channel Darter (2003-2004) (black square) and absence of Channel Darter (2003-2004) (open square). Wetland areas are also indicated.  Points P1 and P2 indicate the points to locate areas within which critical habitat is found and correspond to the coordinates provided in Table 10b.  A legend and scale are provided.  Map details, provided at the lower left corner, are as follows: Base map source: Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (NRVIS), Prepared by Fisheries & Oceans Canada for Ontario Freshwater Fish Recovery Team September 2013.

Figure 14. Area within which critical habitat for Channel Darter is found in the Gatineau River.

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St.-Lawrence northeast hydrographic region: 

L’Assomption River and its tributary, the Ouareau River  - Critical habitat identified in the L’Assomption River is found within a segment of the river near Joliette, and a tributary, the Ouareau River, near Crabtree (Figure 15).  These river segments have respective lengths of 23.2 km and 1.8 km.  Further studies will be required to determine whether or not these two locations represent discrete populations.

In these two habitats, captures were made at depths of approximately 25 cm in clear water with an average temperature of 20.5 ºC, low to moderate current velocity, and a heterogeneous substrate mainly composed of rocks and sand but always with gravel as the next most abundant substrate (CARA 2002, Bourgeois et al.2010).

Figure 15 is captioned “Area within which critical habitat for Channel Darter is found in the L’Assomption River and its tributary, the Ouareau River.”  The figure is a map showing the L’Assomption River and its tributary, the Ouareau River, with critical habitat identified (shaded in pink).  Critical habitat illustrated is composed of a segment of the L’Assomption River near Joliette, and a tributary, the Ouareau River (near Crabtree).  These river segments have respective lengths of 23.2 km and 1.8 km.  An inset illustrates the geographical location of the map on a larger scale map.  Individual data points indicate presence of Channel Darter (2002-2009) (black square) and absence of Channel Darter (2002-2009) (open square). Wetland areas are also indicated.  Points P1 and P2, shown for both the Ouareau River and the L’Assomption River, indicate the points to locate areas within which critical habitat is found and correspond to the coordinates provided in Table 10b.  A legend and scale are provided.  Map details, provided at the lower left corner, are as follows: Base map source: Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (NRVIS), Prepared by Fisheries & Oceans Canada for Ontario Freshwater Fish Recovery Team September 2013.

Figure 15. Area within which critical habitat for Channel Darter is found in the L’Assomption River and its tributary, the Ouareau River.

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St. Lawrence southwest hydrographic region:

Richelieu River  -The area within which critical habitatis identified in the Richelieu River (Figure 16) extends from downstream of Chambly Dam to the mouth of the river where it empties into the St. Lawrence River.  This river segment has a length of 72.7 km.

In the Richelieu River, Boucher et al. (2009) have conducted surveys in the Chambly Rapids and in the St. Marc-sur-Richelieu region.  As on the Gatineau River, this study has demonstrated that Channel Darter is most often found in lotic waters.  However, in the Richelieu River, its presence is linked to four habitat parameters: depth (average of 25 cm); current velocity (average of 44 cm/s); heterogeneous substrate (more than three classes); and, presence of woody debris.  All captures occurred at depths of less than 60 cm.  Channel Darter have also been captured between 1997 and 2009 in a follow-up study of the recruitment of the Copper Redhorse (Moxostoma hubbsi) in the Chambly Rapids, the St. Marc-sur-Richelieu region (Jeannotte and aux Cerfs islands), St. Ours region and at the mouth of the river (Vachon 2007, N. Vachon, MRNF, pers. comm. 2010).  It is important to note that some captures were made on substrate dominated by clay, silt, sand, gravel or rocks and at depths of up to 5 m (S. Garceau, MRNF, pers. comm. 2010).  Consequently the critical habitat in this river is characterized by depths of 0 to 5 m with substrate varying between clay (<0.1 mm) to rocks (65 to 255 mm).

Figure 16 is captioned “Area within which critical habitat for Channel Darter is found in the Richelieu River.”  The figure is a map showing the Richelieu River, with critical habitat identified (shaded in pink).  Critical habitat illustrated extends from downstream of Chambly Dam to the mouth of the river where it empties into the St. Lawrence River.  This river segment has a length of 72.7 km.  An inset illustrates the geographical location of the map on a larger scale map.  Two close-up insets for the Richelieu River are also included.  Presence of Channel Darter (1997-2006) (black squares) and absence of Channel Darter (1997-2006) (open squares) is indicated.  Wetland areas are also indicated.  Points P1 and P2 indicate the points to locate areas within which critical habitat is found and correspond to the coordinates provided in Table 10b.  A legend and scale are provided.  Map details, provided at the lower right corner, are as follows: Base map source: Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (NRVIS), Prepared by Fisheries & Oceans Canada for the Quebec Cyprinidae and Small Percidae recovery Team September 2013.

Figure 16. Area within which critical habitat for Channel Darter is found in theRichelieu River.

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Saint-François River - The area within which critical habitat is identified on the Saint-François River extends from East-Angus to just south of Richmond and includes the regions of Brompton and Windsor (Figure 17).  This river segment has a length of 65.8 km.

In 1998 and 2003, Channel Darter were captured in the Saint-François River while conducting an environmental study on pulp and paper mill effluent, near Brompton and Windsor.  Targeted inventories conducted by the MRNF have also reported captures of Channel Darter near East-Angus and downstream of Windsor and Brompton (downstream of Kruger’s Dam), in 2008 and 2009.  The sites of capture are characterized by a rocky substrate with gravel and a low quantity of sand.  The captures were made in the nearshore area with low current velocity (S. Garceau, MRNF, pers. comm. 2010).

Figure 17 is captioned “Area within which critical habitat for Channel Darter is found in the Saint-François River.”  The figure is a map showing the Saint-François River, with critical habitat identified (shaded in pink).  Critical habitat illustrated extends from East-Angus to Melbourne and includes the regions of Bromptonville and Windsor.  This river segment has a length of 63 km.  An inset illustrates the geographical location of the map on a larger scale map.  Individual data points indicate presence of Channel Darter (2008-2009) (black square) and absence of Channel Darter (2008-2009) (open square). Wetland areas are also indicated.  Points P1 and P2 indicate the points to locate areas within which critical habitat is found and correspond to the coordinates provided in Table 10b.  A legend and scale are provided.  Map details, provided at the lower left corner, are as follows: Base map source: Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (NRVIS), Prepared by Fisheries & Oceans Canada for the Quebec Cyprinidae and Small Percidae recovery Team September 2013.

Figure 17. Area within which critical habitat for Channel Darter is found in the Saint-François River.

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Des Anglais, aux Outardes Est, Trout, and Châteauguay rivers  - The watershed of the Châteauguay River has three critical habitat areas (Figure 18).  A first area, 9.0 km long, is located in the des Anglais River.  A second, 7.5 km long, is in the Outardes Est River.  A third area, 25.7 km long, covers part of the Trout River and continues beyond its mouth into the Châteauguay River. Additional studies are required to confirm if the three critical habitat areas contain one or many discrete populations.

Garceau et al.(2007) found that critical habitat in these rivers is generally a segment of river where the bed is mainly composed of sand or gravel interspersed by rocks or boulders.  The current velocity is generally low (around 30 cm/s) and Channel Darter were generally found in counter-current or current shelter areas.  There was normally no aquatic vegetation present.  The riparian band was of variable cover but generally with a minimum of 50% tree cover.  At the stations where Channel Darter were captured, dissolved oxygen saturation was over 95%, pH was between 6.9 and 9.4 and conductivity was between 209 and 279 mS/cm. Water turbidity was low (below 2.5 UTN), which explains the low content of fines found on the substrate where Channel Darter were captured.       

Channel Darter have also been captured in the des Anglais River by Ambioterra.  Specimens were captured in locations of a minimum depth of 5 to 50 cm but not exceeding 150 cm, a variable substrate composed of consolidated clay or bedrock, a weak covering of aquatic vegetation and a riparian band composed of herbaceous plants, shrubs and trees, and an average current velocity between 10 and 36 cm/s in August and between 4 and 21 cm/s in October (Ambioterra 2010).

Figure 18 is captioned “Area within which critical habitat for Channel Darter is found in the Trout/Châteauguay, aux Outardes Est, and des Anglais rivers.”  The figure is a map showing the Châteauguay River watershed (Trout/Châteauguay, aux Outardes Est, and des Anglais rivers), with critical habitat identified (shaded in pink).  The watershed of the Châteauguay River has three critical habitat areas.  A first area, 9.0 km long, is located in the des Anglais River.  A second, 7.5 km long, is in the Outardes Est River.  A third area, 25.7 km long, covers part of the Trout River and continues beyond its mouth into the Châteauguay River.  An inset illustrates the geographical location of the map on a larger scale map.  Individual data points indicate presence of Channel Darter (2006-2009) (black square) and absence of Channel Darter (2006-2009) (open square). Wetland areas are also indicated.  Points P1 and P2, for each of the Trout/Châteauguay, aux Outardes Est, and des Anglais rivers, indicate the points to locate areas within which critical habitat is found and correspond to the coordinates provided in Table 10b.  A legend and scale are provided.  Map details, provided at the lower left corner, are as follows: Base map source: Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (NRVIS), Prepared by Fisheries & Oceans Canada for the Quebec Cyprinidae and Small Percidae recovery Team September 2013.

Figure 18. Area within which critical habitat for Channel Darter is found in the Trout/Châteauguay, aux Outardes Est and des Anglais rivers.

map

The identification of critical habitat within the described areas ensures that currently occupied habitat supporting Channel Darter is protected, until such time as critical habitat for the species is further refined according to the schedule of studies laid out in Table 12.  The recovery team recommends to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and to the Minister of the Environment that these areas are necessary to achieve the identified survival and recovery objectives. The schedule of studies outlines activities necessary to refine the current critical habitat descriptions at confirmed extant locations, but will also apply to new locations should previously unknown populations be confirmed.  Critical habitat descriptions will be refined as additional information becomes available to support the population and distribution objectives.

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7.1.4   Population Viability

The minimum area for population viability (MAPV) for each life stage of the Channel Darter was estimated for Canadian populations (Table 11a and 11b).  The MAPV is defined as the amount of exclusive and suitable habitat required for a demographically sustainable recovery target based on the concept of a MVP (Vélez-Espino et al. 2009).  The estimated MVP for YOY and adult Channel Darter is 2 712 363 and 31 000, respectively, given a 10% chance of a catastrophic event occurring per generation.  The corresponding MAPV has been estimated to be 0.04 km² in rivers and 1.252 km² in lakes.  For more information on the MVP and MAPV and associated methodology refer to Venturelli et al. (2010). 

The MAPV is a quantitative metric of critical habitat that can assist with the recovery and management of species at risk (Vélez-Espino et al. 2009).  MAPV values are somewhat precautionary in that they represent the sum of habitat needs calculated for all life history stages of the Channel Darter; these figures do not take into account the potential for overlap in the habitat of the various life history stages and may overestimate the area required to support an MVP.  However, since many of these populations occur in areas of degraded habitat (MAPV assumes habitat quality is optimal), areas larger than the MAPV may be required to support an MVP.  In addition, for many populations, it is likely that only a portion of the habitat within that identified as the critical habitat extent would meet the functional requirements of the species’ various life stages.   

Comparisons were made with the extent of critical habitat identified for each location relative to the estimated MAPV (refer to Table 11a and 11b).  The critical habitats within the segments are the areas that meet the functional habitat requirements outlined in Table 9a and 9b.  Consequently, the area data provided are only cartographic estimations of the total watercourse segment and are not the actual area of available critical habitat.  Further studies will be required to assess the area of critical habitat available on an annual basis, for each identified river segment.  Future studies may also help quantify the amount and quality of available habitat within critical habitats for all locations; such information, along with the verification of the MAPV model, will allow greater certainty for the determination of population viability.  As such, the results in Table 11a and 11b are preliminary and should be interpreted with caution.

Table 11a is captioned “Comparison of the area of river segments and lake areas in which critical habitat can be found (km2) for each Channel Darter location in Ontario, relative to the estimated minimum area for population viability (MAPV)*.”  The asterisk directs the reader to a comment below the table - “The MAPV estimation is based on modeling approaches described above”.  There are four columns and six rows.  The first row is column headings.  Reading from left to right, the columns are: Location (Footnote “Note that some locations may contain more than one population.  In such cases, the MAPV would be applied to each discrete population”); Approximate Area of Critical Habitat Identified (km2); MAPV area (km2); and MAPV achieved ? (Y/N).  Row one in the following description is the row immediately following the column headings.  The table is read by rows.  Row 1 is Location, Trent River; Approximate Area of Critical Habitat Identified, 4.85 km2; MAPV area 0.04 km2; MAPV achieved?, Yes.  Row 2 is Location, Moira River, Black River, Skootamatta River; Approximate Area of Critical Habitat Identified, 5.94 km2; MAPV area 0.04 km2; MAPV achieved?, Yes.  Row 3 is Location, Salmon River; Approximate Area of Critical Habitat Identified, 0.61 km2; MAPV area 0.04 km2; MAPV achieved?, Yes.  Row 4 is Location, Little Rideau Creek/Ottawa River; Approximate Area of Critical Habitat Identified, 0.05 km2; MAPV area 0.04 km2; MAPV achieved?, Yes.  Row 5 is Location, Lake Erie – Point Pelee; Approximate Area of Critical Habitat Identified, 7.01 km2; MAPV area 1.25 km2; MAPV achieved?, Yes.

Table 11a. Comparison of the area of river segments and lake areas in which critical habitat can be found (km²) for each Channel Darter location in Ontario, relative to the estimated minimum area for population viability (MAPV)*.
Location9Approximate area of critical habitat identified (km²)MAPV
(km²)
MAPV Achieved? (Y/N)
Trent River4.850.04Y
Moira River, Black River, Skootamatta River5.940.04Y
Salmon River0.610.04Y
Little Rideau Creek/Ottawa River0.050.04Y
Lake Erie – Point Pelee7.011.25Y

* The MAPV estimation is based on modeling approaches described above.

Table 11b is captioned “Comparison of the area of river segments in which critical habitat can be found (km2) for each Channel Darter location in Quebec, relative to the estimated minimum area for population viability (MAPV)*.”  The asterisk directs the reader to a comment below the table - “The MAPV estimation is based on modeling approaches described above”.  The structure of the table is the same as for Table 10a, with four columns and six rows.  The first row is column headings.  Reading from left to right, the columns are; Location; Approximate Area of Critical Habitat Identified (km2); MAPV area (km2); and MAPV achieved ? (Y/N).  Row one in the following description is the row immediately following the column headings.  The table is read by rows.  Row 1 is Location, Gatineau River; Approximate Area of Critical Habitat Identified, 1.40 km2; MAPV area 0.04 km2; MAPV achieved?, To be confirmed.  Row 2 is Location, L’Assomption River/Ouareau River; Approximate Area of Critical Habitat Identified, 0.97/0.14 km2; MAPV area 0.04 km2; MAPV achieved?, To be confirmed.  Row 3 is Location, Richelieu River; Approximate Area of Critical Habitat Identified, 9.32 km2; MAPV area 0.04 km2; MAPV achieved?, To be confirmed.  Row 4 is Location, Saint-François River; Approximate Area of Critical Habitat Identified, 7.00 km2; MAPV area 0.04 km2; MAPV achieved?, To be confirmed.  Row 5 is Location, des Anglais/aux Outardes Est/Trout/Châteauguay rivers; Approximate Area of Critical Habitat Identified, 0.10/0.31/0.72 km2; MAPV area 0.04 km2; MAPV achieved?, To be confirmed.

Table 11b. Comparison of the area of river segments in which critical habitat can be found (km²) for each Channel Darter location in Quebec, relative to the estimated minimum area for population viability (MAPV)*.
LocationApproximate area of critical habitat identified (km²)MAPV
(km²)
MAPV Achieved? (Y/N)
Gatineau River1.400.04To be confirmed
L’Assomption River/Ouareau River0.97/0.140.04To be confirmed
Richelieu River9.320.04To be confirmed
Saint-François River7.000.04To be confirmed
des Anglais/aux Outardes Est /Trout/Châteauguay rivers0.10/0.31/0.720.04To be confirmed

* The MAPV estimation is based on modeling approaches described above.

7.2 Schedule of studies to Identify Critical Habitat

This recovery strategy includes an identification of critical habitat to the extent possible, based on the best available information.  Further studies are required to refine critical habitat identified for the Channel Darter to support the population and distribution objectives for the species.  The activities listed in Table 12 are not exhaustive and it is likely that the process of investigating these actions will lead to the discovery of further knowledge gaps that need to be addressed.

Table 12 is captioned “Schedule of studies to identify critical habitat.”  There are three columns and six rows.  The first row is column headings.  The left-hand column is Description of Activity, the middle column, Rationale, and the right-hand column is Approximate Timeline.  Row one in the following description is the row immediately following the column headings.  The table is read by rows.  Row 1 is Description of Activity, Conduct studies to determine the habitat requirements for each life-stage of Channel Darter; Rationale, There is limited information available regarding the habitat requirements for juvenile Channel Darter.  Determining the habitat requirements for each life-stage will ensure that all necessary features and attributes of critical habitat for this species are identified; Approximate Timeline, 2013–2017.  Row 2 is Description of Activity, Survey and map habitat quality and quantity within historical and current sites, as well as sites adjacent to currently occupied habitat; Rationale, Strengthen confidence in data used to determine if sites meet the criteria for critical habitat; assist in refining the spatial boundaries of critical habitat; Approximate Timeline, 2013–2017.

.....Read the remainder of the table by row.

Table 12. Schedule of studies to identify critical habitat.
Description of activityRationaleApproximate
Timeline
Conduct studies to determine the habitat requirements for each life stage of the Channel Darter.There is limited information available regarding the habitat requirements for juvenile Channel Darter.  Determining the habitat requirements for each life stage will ensure that all necessary features and attributes of critical habitat for this species will be identified.2014 - 2018
Survey and map habitat quality and quantity within historical and current sites, as well as sites adjacent to currently occupied habitat.Strengthen confidence in data used to determine if sites meet the criteria for critical habitat; assist in refining the spatial boundaries of critical habitat.2014 - 2018
Conduct additional species surveys to fill in distribution gaps, and to aid in determining population connectivity.Additional populations and corresponding critical habitat may be required to meet the population and distribution objectives.2014 - 2018
Create a population-habitat supply model for each life stage.Will aid in developing recovery targets and determining the quantity of critical habitat required by each life stage to meet these targets.2014 - 2018
Based on information gathered, review population and distribution goals. Determine amount and configuration of critical habitat required to achieve goal if adequate information exists. Validate model.Revision of recovery targets may be required to ensure that they are achievable and defensible; will allow further refinement of critical habitat description (spatial and biophysical attributes). 2014 - 2018

Activities identified in this schedule of studies will be carried out through collaboration between DFO, PCA, and other relevant groups and land managers.  Note that many of the individual recovery approaches will address some of the information requirements listed above. 

The Trent-Severn Waterway is planning to conduct flow needs assessments for species at risk fishes, including Channel Darter, at some of PCA’s dams on the Trent River.  However, it should be noted that water level management on the Waterway is a complex issue and is subject to many other mandated considerations including public safety. 

7.3 Examples of Activities Likely to Result in the Destruction of Critical Habitat

Activities that negatively alter flow regimes beyond the tolerance threshold of the species, and increase siltation, turbidity, and nutrient levels can negatively impact Channel Darter habitat.  However, in areas where it is known that such activities do not negatively impact the species (determined by site-specific reviews and the determination of tolerance thresholds for individual populations) such activities described in the table may continue to occur.
 
Without appropriate mitigation, direct destruction of habitat may result from work or activities such as those identified in Table 13.

The activities described in this table are neither exhaustive nor exclusive and have been guided by the threats described in Section 4.2 (Description of threats).  The absence of a specific human activity does not preclude, or fetter the department’s ability to regulate it pursuant to SARA.  Furthermore, the inclusion of an activity does not result in its automatic prohibition since it is destruction of critical habitat that is prohibited.  Since habitat use is often temporal in nature, every activity is assessed on a case-by-case basis and site-specific mitigation is applied where it is reliable and available.  In every case, where information is available, habitat thresholds and limits are associated with attributes to better inform management and regulatory decision-making.  However, in many cases the knowledge of a species and its critical habitat may be lacking and in particular, information associated with a species’ or habitat thresholds of tolerance to disturbance from human activities, is lacking and must be acquired.

Certain habitat management activities are recognized as being beneficial to the long-term survival and/or recovery of the species and may be allowed when required.  Such activities may include water level and flow management (including dike maintenance) and habitat restoration activities.  Stewardship, implementation of BMPs and Watershed Committees, as well as improved flow management could mitigate negative impacts to the species.

The critical habitat for Channel Darter will be legally protected through the application of subsection 58(1) of SARA, which prohibits the destruction of any part of the critical habitat of aquatic species listed as Endangered or Threatened, and of any part of the critical habitat of aquatic species listed as Extirpated if a recovery strategy has recommended their reintroduction into the wild in Canada.

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Table 13 is captioned “Human activities likely to result in the destruction of critical habitat for Channel Darter.  The affect pathway for each activity is provided as well as the potential links to the biophysical functions, features and attributes of critical habitat.”  There are five columns and eight rows.  The first row is column headings.  Reading from left to right, the column headings are Activity, Affect - Pathway, Function Affected, Feature Affected, and Attribute Affected.  Row one in the following description is the row immediately following the column headings.  The table is read by row.  Row 1 is Activity, Habitat modifications - Shoreline hardening, Placement of material or structures in water (e.g., groynes, piers, infilling, partial infills, jetties), Dredging, Grading, Excavation; Affect - Pathway, Changing shoreline morphology can result in altered flow patterns, change sediment depositional areas, cover preferred substrates, cause erosion and alter turbidity levels.  These changes can impact water quality and cause changes to nutrient levels.  Hardening of shorelines can impact organic inputs into the water and alter water temperatures potentially affecting the availability of prey for this species.  Placing material or structures in water reduces habitat availability (e.g., the footprint of the infill or structure is lost).  Placing of fill can cover preferred substrates and change flow patterns.  Changes in bathymetry and shoreline morphology caused by dredging and near-shore grading and excavation can remove (or cover) preferred substrates, change water depths and/or change flow patterns potentially affecting nutrient levels and water temperatures; Function Affected, Spawning, Nursery, Rearing, Feeding, Migration; Feature Affected, Riffles, runs, shoals, nearshore areas, backwater areas and pools in streams and rivers, Gravel and coarse sand beaches; Attribute Affected, Current and wave action, Clean, coarse substrates (e.g., cobble, gravel and sand), Large rocks in current, Depth, Warm water temperatures, Good water quality, Minimal to sparse aquatic vegetation, Availability of prey.  Row 2 is Activity, Habitat modifications - Significant changes in timing, duration and frequency of water flow to the extent that critical habitat becomes uninhabitable by any life stage of Channel Darter, Installation of barriers to movement (e.g., dams);  Affect – Pathway, Rapid, repeated and prolonged changes in water flow (increases or decreases) can have a negative effect on Channel Darter habitat, especially spawning habitat.  Large changes (rapid or prolonged) in water flow can cause significant sediment deposition (e.g., changing preferred substrates) or changes in prey abundance.  Barriers can restrict access to important habitat areas and fragment fish populations affecting distribution of Channel Darter.; Function Affected, All; Feature Affected, All; Attribute Affected, All of the above.

.....Read remainder of table by row. 

Table 13. Human activities likely to result in the destruction of critical habitat for Channel Darter.  The affect pathway for each activity is provided as well as the potential links to the biophysical functions, features, and attributes of critical habitat.
ActivityAffect- pathwayFunction affectedFeature affectedAttribute affected
Habitat modifications:
Shoreline hardening
Placement of material or structures in water (e.g., groynes, piers, infilling, partial infills, jetties)
Dredging
Grading
Excavation
Changing shoreline morphology can result in altered flow patterns, change sediment depositional areas, cover preferred substrates, cause erosion and alter turbidity levels.  These changes can impact water quality and cause changes to nutrient levels. 
Hardening of shorelines can impact organic inputs into the water and alter water temperatures, potentially affecting the availability of prey for this species.
Placing material or structures in water reduces habitat availability (e.g., the footprint of the infill or structure is lost).  Placing of fill can cover preferred substrates and change flow patterns.
Changes in bathymetry and shoreline morphology caused by dredging and nearshore grading and excavation can remove (or cover) preferred substrates, change water depths, and/or change flow patterns, potentially affecting nutrient levels and water temperatures.
Spawning
Nursery
Rearing
Feeding
Migration
Riffles, runs, shoals, nearshore areas, backwater areas and pools in streams and rivers
Gravel and coarse sand beaches
  • Current and wave action
  • Clean, coarse substrates (e.g., cobble, gravel and sand)
  • Large rocks in current
  • Depth
  • Warm water temperatures
  • Good water quality
  • Minimal to sparse aquatic vegetation
  • Availability of prey
Habitat modifications:
Significant changes in timing, duration and frequency of water flow to the extent that critical habitat becomes uninhabitable by any life stage of the Channel Darter
Installation of barriers to movement (e.g., dams)
Rapid, repeated and prolonged changes in water flow (increases or decreases) can have a negative affect on Channel Darter habitat, especially spawning habitat.  Large changes (rapid or prolonged) in water flow can cause significant sediment deposition (e.g., changing preferred substrates) or changes in prey abundance.
Barriers can restrict access to important habitat areas and fragment fish populations affecting distribution of Channel Darter.
AllAll
  • All of the above
Habitat modifications:
Unfettered livestock access to waterbodies
Grazing of livestock and ploughing to water’s edge
Resulting damage to shorelines, banks and watercourse bottoms from unfettered access by livestock can cause increased erosion and sedimentation, affecting substrate, water quality and water temperatures. 
Such access can also increase organic nutrient inputs into the water causing nutrient loading and potentially promoting algal blooms and decreasing prey abundance.
AllAll
  • Clean, coarse substrates (e.g., cobble, gravel and sand)
  • Warm water temperatures
  • Good water quality
  • Minimal to sparse aquatic vegetation
  • Availability of prey
Introduction of invasive speciesInvasive species, such as invasive plant species, may affect Channel Darter critical habitat by altering the nature of the habitat.  AllAll
  • Availability of prey
Contaminants and toxic substances:
Over application or misuse of herbicides, insecticides and pesticides
Release of urban and industrial pollution into habitat
Introduction of toxic compounds into habitat used by this species can change water quality affecting habitat availability or use and prey availability.AllAll
  • Good water quality
  • Minimal to sparse aquatic vegetation
  • Availability of prey
Nutrient loadings:
Over-application of fertilizer and improper nutrient management (e.g., organic debris management, wastewater management, animal waste, septic systems and municipal sewage)
Improper nutrient management can cause nutrient loading of nearby waterbodies.  Elevated nutrient levels can cause increased aquatic plant growth changing water temperatures and slowly changing preferred flows and substrates.  Dissolved oxygen levels can also be negatively affected.  The availability of prey species can also be affected if prey are sensitive to organic pollution. AllAll
  • Current and wave action
  • Clean, coarse substrates (e.g., cobble, gravel and sand)
  • Warm water temperatures
  • Good water quality
  • Minimal to sparse aquatic vegetation
  • Availability of prey
Siltation and turbidity:
Altered flow regimes causing erosion and changing sediment transport (e.g., tiling of agricultural drainage systems, removal of riparian zones)
Work in or around water with improper sediment and erosion control (e.g., overland runoff from ploughed fields, use of industrial equipment, cleaning or maintenance of bridges or other structures)
Improper sediment and erosion control or mitigation can cause increased turbidity levels, changing preferred substrates, potentially reducing feeding success or prey availability, impacting the growth of aquatic vegetation and possibly excluding fish from habitat due to physiological impacts of sediment in the water (e.g., gill irritation).
Also see: Habitat Modifications: Change in timing, duration and frequency of flow
AllAll
  • Current and wave action
  • Clean, coarse substrates (e.g., cobble, gravel and sand)
  • Warm water temperatures
  • Good water quality
  • Minimal to sparse aquatic vegetation
  • Availability of prey

Certain habitat management activities in Channel Darter habitat, such as flow management and habitat alteration, are occurring and will continue to occur.  Since little is known about the species’ tolerance thresholds in relation to these specific activities, additional study is required.  In addition to the studies described in the schedule of studies (Table 12), efforts are planned for flow needs assessments and the determination of BMPs in areas where habitat management is subject to other mandated consideration such as public safety. 

8. Measuring Progress

The overall success of implementing the recommended recovery approaches will be evaluated primarily through routine population (distribution and abundance) and habitat (quality and quantity) surveys and monitoring.  During the next five years, focus will be placed on completing recovery actions identified as “high priority” for the Channel Darter.  The recovery strategy will be reported on in five years to evaluate the progress made toward population and distribution objectives and will be reviewed within an adaptive management planning framework with input from ecosystem recovery teams.  Performance measures to evaluate the recovery process in meeting recovery objectives over the next five years are outlined below.

Performance measures for evaluating the achievement of recovery objectives:

  • Extant populations fully described by 2018
  • Completion of activities outlined in the schedule of studies for the complete identification of critical habitat within the proposed timelines (by 2018).
  • Monitoring program established by 2018
  • Relative significance of threats evaluated by 2018
    Initiate implementation of remedial actions to address priority threats by 2019
  • Feasibility of re-establishment and potential re-establishment methods determined by 2018
    Potential re-establishment sites identified by 2018
  • Quantification of BMPs (e.g., number of Nutrient Management Plans and Environmental Management Plans completed; hectares of riparian zone established) implemented through ecosystem-based recovery teams and other relevant complementary groups/initiatives to address threats by 2018 (on-going)
  • Document any changes in public perceptions and support for identified recovery actions through guidance identified in the communications strategy (by 2018)

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9. Activities Permitted by the Recovery Strategy

As set out in subsection 83(4) of SARA, a person can engage in an otherwise prohibited activity if the activity is permitted by a recovery strategy and the person is authorized under an Act of Parliament to engage in that activity.  Section 83(4) can be used as an exemption to allow activities, which have been determined to not jeopardize the survival or recovery of the species.

Continuation of Limited Commercial and Sport Baitfish Harvesting:
Commercial baitfish harvesting is regulated by the provinces of Ontario and Quebec and the Channel Darter is not a legal baitfish.  It is regulated under the Fisheries Act through the Ontario Fisheries Regulations and the Quebec Fishery Regulation.  As outlined in Section 4.2 (Description of threats) under Incidental Harvest, commercial and sport baitfish harvesting activities are unlikely to affect Channel Darter populations and have been determined to be eligible for an exemption as per s.83(4). The management of Channel Darter recovery could include limited fishing mortality as the threat to Channel Darter by baitfish harvest is low.  Consequently, under SARA s. 83.(4), this recovery strategy allows baitfish harvesters to engage in the activities of commercial and sport fishing for baitfish that incidentally kill, harm, harass, capture or take Channel Darter, subject to the following two conditions:

1.    The fishing activities are conducted under licenses issued under the Ontario Fishery Regulations 2007, or the Quebec Fishery Regulations1990;

2.    All Channel Darter caught are to be released immediately and returned to the waters from where taken in a manner that causes them the least harm.

10. Statement on Action Plans

Action plans are documents that describe the implementation of recovery strategies.  Under SARA, an action plan provides the detailed recovery planning that supports the strategic direction set out in the recovery strategy for the species.  The plan outlines what needs to be done to achieve the population and distribution objectives identified in the recovery strategy, including the measures to be taken to address the threats and monitor the recovery of the species, as well as the measures to protect critical habitat.  Action plans offer an opportunity to involve many interests in working together to find creative solutions to recovery challenges.  As such, they may also include recommendations on individuals and groups that should be involved in carrying out the proposed activities.

One or more action plans relating to this recovery strategy will be produced within five years of the final recovery strategy being posted on the Species at Risk Public Registry.

11. References

Ambioterra. 2010. Projet (no. Permis: QUE 09 SCI 005). Le fouille-roche gris: une espèce à protéger, Inventaire de poisson de 2009. Groupe Ambioterra, présenté à la Direction de la gestion des espèces en péril de Pêches et Océans Canada. 17 pp.

Baker, K. 2005. Nine year study of the invasion of western Lake Erie by the round goby (Neogobius melanostomus): changes in goby and darter abundance. Ohio Journal of Science 105: A-31.

Boisvert, J. and J. Lacoursière. 2004. Le Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis et le contrôle des insectes piqueurs au Québec.Document préparé par l’Université duQuébec à Trois-Rivières pour le ministère de l'Environnement du Québec. Envirodoq no ENV/2004/0278. 101 pp.

Boucher, J., M. Letendre, M. Bérubé, H. Fournier, Y. Mailhot, C. Côté, L. Nadon, and P.Y. Collin. 2006. Évaluation de l’impact de la pêche commerciale automnale aux poissons appâts sur cinq espèces de poissons à situation précaire en vertu de la Loi sur les espèces en péril (chevalier cuivré, brochet vermiculé, méné d’herbe, dard de sable, fouille-roche gris). Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune, Société Provancher d’histoire naturelle du Canada.

Boucher, J., P. Bérubé, and R. Cloutier. 2009. Comparison of the Channel Darter (Percina copelandi) summer habitat in two rivers from eastern Canada. Journal of Freshwater Ecology 24(1): 19-28.

Boucher, J. and S. Garceau. 2010. Information in support of a recovery potential assessment of Channel Darter (Percina copelandi) in Quebec. DFO Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat Research Document 2010/097. iii + 33 pp.

Bourgeois, P.A. 2010. Rapport d'inventaire et de caractérisation des habitats du dard de sable (Ammocrypta pellucida), du fouille-roche gris (Percina copelandi) et du méné d'herbe (Notropis bifrenatus) dans le bassin versant de la rivière L'Assomption. Corporation de l'Aménagement de la rivière L'Assomption, Joliette, Québec.

Bouvier, L.D. and N.E. Mandrak. 2010. Information in support of a recovery potential assessment of Channel Darter (Percina copelandi) in Ontario. DFO Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat Research Document 2010/029. iii + 39 pp.

Bowles, J.M. 2005. Walpole Island ecosystem recovery strategy – Draft 8. Prepared for Walpole Island Heritage Centre, Environment Canada and the Walpole Island Recovery Team. vii + 43 pp.

Branson, B.A. 1967. Fishes of the Neosho river system in Oklahoma. American Midland Naturalist 78: 212-154.

CARA (Corporation de l’Aménagement de la Rivière L’Assomption). 2002. Inventaire ichtyologique d’espèces rares dans la partie sud du basin versant de la rivière L’Assomption, été 2002. Joliette, Québec. 42 pp.

CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency). 2009. Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS).  Accessed: February 2010.
Coker, G.A. and C.B. Portt. 2009. Sonoco generating station expansion monitoring program 2003-2008. Prepared for Glen Miller Power LP by C. Portt & Associates. 29 pp.

Comtois, A., F. Chapleau, C.B. Renaud, H. Fournier, B. Campbell, and R. Pariseau. 2004. Inventaire printanier d’une frayère multispécifique: l’ichtyofaune des rapides de la rivière Gatineau, Québec. Canadian Field-Naturalist 118: 521-529.

COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada). 2002. COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the Channel Darter (Percina copelandi) in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. vii + 21 pp.

COSEWIC. 2010 COSEWIC’s assessment process and criteria, approved by COSEWIC in April 2010 [PDF 112 Kb]. Accessed: July 2011.

Côté, M.J., Y. Lachance, C. Lamontagne, M. Nastev, R. Plamondon, and N. Roy. 2006. Atlas du bassin versant de la rivière Châteauguay. Collaboration étroite avec la Commission géologique du Canada et l’Institut national de la recherche scientifique – Eau, Terre et Environnement. Québec: Ministère du Développement Durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs, 64 pp.

Couillard, M-A., J. Boucher, and S. Garceau. 2011. Protocole d’échantillonnage du fouille-roche gris (Percina copelandi), du dard de sable (Ammocrypta pellucida) et du méné d’herbe (Notropis bifrenatus) au Québec. Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune du Québec, Faune Québec. 28 pp. + 2 appendices.

Cudmore, B. and N.E. Mandrak. 2011. The baitfish primer – a guide to identifying and protecting Ontario’s baitfishes. Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Bait Association of Ontario. 35 pp.

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APPENDIX A: Effects on the Environment and Other Species

A strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is conducted on all SARA recovery planning documents, in accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals.  The purpose of a SEA is to incorporate environmental considerations into the development of public policies, plans, and program proposals to support environmentally sound decision-making.

Recovery planning is intended to benefit species at risk and biodiversity in general.  However, it is recognized that strategies may also inadvertently lead to environmental effects beyond the intended benefits.  The planning process based on national guidelines directly incorporates consideration of all environmental effects, with a particular focus on possible impacts upon non-target species or habitats.  The results of the SEA are incorporated directly into the strategy itself, but are also summarized below in this statement.

The recovery strategy will clearly benefit the environment by promoting the recovery of the Channel Darter.  The potential for the strategy to inadvertently lead to adverse effects on other species was considered.  The SEA concluded that this strategy will clearly benefit the environment and will not entail any significant environmental effects.

APPENDIX B: Existing and Recommended Approaches to Habitat Protection

Federal

When the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012) applies and a species at risk has been identified as a valued ecosystem component within the scope of the review pursuant to that Act, the environmental assessment will take into account, any change that might be caused to aquatic species as defined in s.2(1) of SARA.  Furthermore, under s.79 of SARA, during an environmental assessment of a project under CEAA 2012, the competent minister must be notified if the project will affect a listed wildlife species or its critical habitat.  Once identified, SARA includes provisions to prevent the destruction of critical habitat of Channel Darter.

Provincial

Ontario: Provincially, protection is also afforded under the Planning Act.  Planning authorities are required to be “consistent with” the provincial Policy Statement under Section 3 of Ontario’s Planning Act, which prohibits development and site alteration in the habitat of Endangered or Threatened species.  Stream-side development in Ontario is managed through floodplain regulations enforced by local conservation authorities.  Under the Public Lands Act, a permit may be required for work in the water and along the shore. 

The Channel Darter is listed as a Threatened species under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act, 2007.  Under the Act, the species and its habitat is currently protected under the general habitat protection provisions of the Act as of June 30, 2013.

Quebec: Channel Darter is directly and indirectly protected by several pieces of provincial legislation and regulations.  Since 2005, the Channel Darter has had vulnerable species status under the Loi sur les espèces menacées ou vulnérables(R.S.Q., chapter E‑12.01), in force in Quebec. 

Chapter IV.1 (Wildlife Habitats) of An Act Respecting the Conservation and Development of Wildlife (RSQ, c C-61.1) also ensures some habitat protection.  Section 128.6 of this Act stipulates that “No person may, in a wildlife habitat, carry on an activity that may alter any biological, physical or chemical component peculiar to the habitat of the animal or fish concerned.”  This Act applies to lands in the domain of the State and includes certain exceptions.

General protection of fish habitat is addressed in the Environment Quality Act (EQA), which prohibits the release or emission of contaminants into the environment that may harm wildlife on public and private lands.  The EQA also regulates the development and implementation of the Politique de protection des rives, du littoral et des plaines inondables (Protection policy for lakeshores, riverbanks, littoral zones and floodplains) that aims to protect lakes and streams.  Under An Act Respecting Land Use Planning and Development, minimum standards for development of municipal lands are set.  The Agricultural Operations Regulation section of the EQA may also indirectly protect Channel Darter habitat as it prohibits free access of livestock to waterbodies and shorelines.

APPENDIX C: Record of Cooperation and Consultation

The proposed recovery strategy for Channel Darter was prepared by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) with input from representatives of the Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune du Québec (MRNF), Société de conservation et d’aménagement du bassin de la rivière Châteauguay, Hydro-Québec, Ambioterra, Comité de concertation et de valorisation du bassin de la rivière Richelieu, Parks Canada Agency (PCA), Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR), Lower Trent Conservation Authority, Port and Associates and the  Quinte Conservation Authority.  Members of the Bay of Quinte Remedial Action Plan, Royal Ontario Museum and Essex Region Conservation Authority were included on Recovery Team distribution lists.

DFO has attempted to engage potentially affected Aboriginal communities in Ontario and Quebec during the development of this proposed recovery strategy.  Members of many communities may have travelled or harvested fishes from the waters where the Channel Darter was historically found.  

In Ontario, in March 2011, DFO conducted community consultation sessions with Walpole Island First Nation (in coordination with Environment Canada and PCA) on several recovery documents, including the present recovery strategy.  Feedback and written comments were received for consideration.  

Although many Aboriginal and Métis communities already received a letter from DFO (in November 2007) regarding a recovery strategy for the Channel Darter, given the passage of time and the addition of critical habitat to the recovery strategy, a new letter was sent to First Nations to invite them to comment on the updated strategy.  This letter was sent before the posting of the proposed recovery on the Species at Risk Public Registry.  Follow-up emails were made to many community offices to ensure that packages were received and to ask if they would like to schedule a meeting to learn more about species at risk in general and the proposed recovery strategy in particular.

In Quebec, during the development of the recovery strategy, the Band Councils of the following communities were consulted: Kahnawake, Kanesatake, Odonak, Wôlinak , Wendake and Kitigan-Zibi.  In addition, the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Sustainable Development Institute was consulted.  Follow-up telephone calls were made to many community offices to ensure that packages were received and to ask if they would like to schedule a meeting to learn more about species at risk in general and the proposed recovery strategy in particular.

The recovery strategy was posted on the Species at Risk Public Registry for a consultation period of 60 days during the summer of 2013. In Quebec and Ontario, letters were sent to the groups directly affected or likely to be affected by the Channel Darter recovery strategy, including organizations from the following sectors: fisheries, environment, agriculture, industry, and municipal.  In addition, Ontario and Quebec Aboriginal communities consulted during the development of the recovery strategy, and the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Sustainable Development Institute, had a second opportunity to comment.

APPENDIX D: Channel Darter Recovery Team Members

Ontario ’s Freshwater Fish Recovery Team

The following members of the Ontario Freshwater Fish Recovery Team were involved in the development of the recovery strategy for the Channel Darter:

Tracy Allison, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Jeff Borisko, Bay of Quinte Remedial Action Plan (distribution list only)
Amy Boyko, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Beth Cockburn, Parks Canada Agency (Trent-Severn Waterway)
George Coker, Portt and Associates
Brian Craig, Parks Canada Agency (distribution list only)
Dr. Alan Dextrase, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
Melissa Laplante, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
Erling Holm, Royal Ontario Museum (distribution list only)
Dr. Nicholas E. Mandrak, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Vicki McKay, Parks Canada Agency (distribution list only)
Brad McNevin, Quinte Conservation Authority
Mike Nelson, Essex Region Conservation Authority (distribution list only)
Sharlene Polman, Lower Trent Conservation Authority
Dr. Scott Reid, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
Karen Soper, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
Shawn Staton, Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Quebec Recovery Team « Équipe de rétablissement des cyprinidés et petits percidés du Québec »

The following members of Équipe de rétablissement des cyprinidés et petits percidés du Québec were involved in the development of the recovery strategy for Channel Darter:

Jean-Philippe Détolle (President), Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune du Québec
Geneviève Aude, Société de conservation et d’aménagement du bassin de la rivière Châteauguay (SCABRIC)
Jacinthe Beauchamp, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Marthe Bérubé/Daniel Hardy, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Julie Boucher, Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune du Québec
Jean Caumartin, Hydro-Québec – Division Environnement / Production
Chantal Côté, Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune du Québec
Priscilla Gareau, Ambioterra
Henri Fournier, Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune du Québec
Steve Garceau, Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune du Québec
Réjean Malo, Parks Canada Agency
Marie-Pierre Maurice/Marcel Comiré, Comité de concertation et de valorisation du bassin de la rivière Richelieu (COVABAR)

APPENDIX E: Channel Darter Sites in Quebec

Appendix E is captioned “Channel Darter sites in Quebec”.  The table provides details on where Channel Darter have been captured in Quebec over the years.  It is broken down by sites in the St. Lawrence River and in four hydrographic regions in Quebec (St. Lawrence River, Outaouais and Montreal, Northwest St. Lawrence, Southwest St. Lawrence, and Southeast St. Lawrence).  Symbols are used in table to specify whether Channel Darter were present or absent during fish surveys.  An X means Channel Darter were present, while and O means they were absent despite surveys targeting them.  The year(s) when the surveys occurred are included after each symbol in brackets.  A superscript of FMN is included beside some of the records to indicate that data came from the St. Lawrence Fish Monitoring Network.  There are five columns and 53 rows in the table.  The first row is column headings.  The first column heading is Waterway (i.e., the specific waterway within each of the five different regions as listed above).  The second to fifth columns have an overall heading of Years when Channel Darter presence was confirmed followed by a sub-heading for each individual column.  The sub-headings for columns two through five are 1930-1949, 1950-1969, 1970-1989, and 1990-2009.  A footnote for column five explains that “Several surveys resulting in new Channel Darter records have been completed since this recovery strategy was developed.  The data will be updated in the action plan.”  Row one in the following description is the row immediately following the column headings.  The table is read by row.  Row 1 is St. Lawrence River; this row extends the width of the table.  Row 2 is Waterway, Lake St. FrançoisFMN, Year, 1930-1949, (blank), 1950-1969, (blank), 1970-1989, (blank), 1990-2009, O (1996FNM, 2004FNM), X (2009FNM).  Row 3 is Waterway, Pointe du Buisson, Year, 1930-1949, X (1942), 1950-1969, (blank), 1970-1989, (blank), 1990-2009, (blank).  Row 4 is Waterway, Lake St. LouisFMN, Year, 1930-1949, X (1941), 1950-1969, (blank), 1970-1989, (blank), 1990-2009, O (1997FNM, 2005FNM), X (1999).  Row 5 is Waterway, Lachine Rapids, Year, 1930-1949, X (1941), 1950-1969, (blank), 1970-1989, (blank), 1990-2009, (blank).  Row 6 is Waterway, Montreal-Sorel reachFMN, Year, 1930-1949, (blank), 1950-1969, (blank), 1970-1989, (blank), 1990-2009, O (2001FNM).  Row 7 is Waterway, Lake St. PierreFMN, Year, 1930-1949, (blank), 1950-1969, (blank), 1970-1989, (blank), 1990-2009, X (1995 FNM, 2002FNM, 2006, 2007FMN).  Row 8 is Waterway, Lake St. Pierre ArchipelagoFMN, Year, 1930-1949, (blank), 1950-1969, (blank), 1970-1989, (blank), 1990-2009, O (1995FNM),  X (2001, 2003FNM).  Row 9 is Waterway, Port St. François, Year, 1930-1949, (blank), 1950-1969, (blank), 1970-1989, X (1972), 1990-2009, O (1995). 

…..Read the remainder of the table by row.

Channel Darter observation sites in Quebec in the St. Lawrence River and in four hydrographic regions. X = occurrence; O = absent despite inventories directed on the species; (xxxx) = Year of capture; FMN = data from the St. Lawrence Fish Monitoring Network.
WaterwayYears when Channel Darter presence was confirmed
1930-19491950-19691970-19891990-200910
St. Lawrence River
Lake St. FrançoisFMN   O (1996FMN, 2004FMN)
X (2009FMN)
Pointe du BuissonX (1942)   
Lake St. LouisFMNX (1941)  O (1997FMN, 2005FMN)
X (1999)
Lachine RapidsX (1941)   
Montréal-Sorel reachFMN   O (2001FMN)
Lake St. PierreFMN   X (1995FMN, 2002FMN,  2006, 2007FMN)
Lake St. Pierre ArchipelagoFMN   O (1995FMN)
X (2001, 2003FMN)
Port St. François  X (1972)O (1995)
Bécancour-Batiscan reachFMN   X (1996FMN)
O (2001FMN, 2008 FMN)
Grondines-Donnacona reachFMN   X (1997FMN)
X (2006FMN)
Ottawa and Montreal
Blanche River   X (1995, 2000)
Calumet Creek   X (2006)
Gatineau River   X (1999, 2002, 2003 2004)
la Petite Nation River X (1964) X (1995, 2000)
Ottawa River  XX (2006)
de Pointe-au-Chêne Creek   X (2006, 2007)
Rouge River   X (1995, 2006)
Saumon River (or Kinonge River)   X (1995, 2007)
Northwest St. Lawrence
Batiscan River  X (1973) 
Bayonne River  X (1971)X (1996)
Chicot RiverX (1941) X (1971)O (1996)
L’Assomption River  X (1981, 1987)X (1991, 2002, 2009)
Jacques-Cartier River   X (2003)
Ouareau River  X (1981)X (1990, 2002, 2009)
Sainte-Anne River   X (2002)
Southwest St. Lawrence
Allen Creek  X (1976) 
aux Bleuets River  X (1977)O (1992, 1996)
aux Saumons River (Richmond/Melbourne)X (1932)  X (2009)
Rivière aux Saumons
(Weedon/Lingwick)
  X (1977) 
Châteauguay  RiverX (1941, 1942, 1944) X (1976, 1987)X (2006)
des Anglais River  X (1976)X (1996, 2006, 2009)
Lake Elgin discharge (or Maskinongé River)X (1934)  O (1996)
Niger RiverX (1931)  O (1996)
Noire River X (1964)X (1987)X (1995)
aux Outardes Est River  X (1976)X (1996, 2002, 2006)
Richelieu River   X (1991, 1993, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2006, 2009)
Saint-François  RiverX (1944)  X (1998, 2003, 2008, 2009)
Trout River X (1941) X (1976)X (1996, 2006)
Yamaska River X (1969)X (1971)X (1995)
Southeast St. Lawrence
Bécancour River X (1964)  
aux Orignaux River  X (1975) 
aux Ormes RiverX (1941)   
Bras St. Nicolas River  X (1975, 1980)X (1997)
O (2003, 2005, 2007)
du Chêne River  X (1971)X (2007)
du Sud RiverX (1941)X (1964) O (1991, 1992, 1996, 1197, 2004)
 X (2005)
Gentilly RiverX (1941)   
Henri River  X (1971) 
Miscou River   X (2009)
Nicolet RiverX (1944)   

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APPENDIX F: New Channel Darter Sites in Quebec Following the Publication of the 2002 COSEWIC Report

Appendix F is captioned “New Channel Darter sites in Quebec following the publication of the 2002 COSEWIC Report”.  The table details the year and site where Channel Darter have been found since the COSEWIC report.  The reference for each record is included in brackets after each site.  FMN stands for the St. Lawrence Fish Monitoring Network.  The table has two columns and eleven rows.  The first row is column headings.  Reading from left to right, the first column heading is Year and the second column heading is Site.  Row one in the following description is the row immediately following the column headings.  The table is read left to right by row.  Row 1 is Year, 1999, Site, Gatineau River (Comtois et al. 2004), Richelieu River (N. Vachon, pers. comm.).  Row 2 is Year, 2001, Site, Richelieu River (Massé and Bilodeau 2003).  Row 3 is Year, 2002, Site, L’Assomption and Oureau rivers (CARA 2002), aux Outardes Est River (M. Letendre, unpubl. data), Sainte-Anne River (M. Arvisais, pers. comm.), Lake St. Pierre (FMN).  Row 4 is Year, 2003, Site, Saint-François River between Bromptonville and Windsor (M. Letendre, pers. comm.), Gatineau and Richelieu rivers (Boucher et al. 2009), Jacques-Cartier River (M. Arvisais, pers. comm.), Lake St. Pierre Archipelago (FMN).  Row 5 is Year, 2004, Site, Gatineau River in the Rapides-Farmer area (Lemieux et al. 2005).  Row 6 is Year, 2005, Site, Du Sud River downstream of the Arthurville powerplant at Saint-Raphaël (P.Y. Collin, pers. comm.).

…..Read the remainder of the table by row.       

New Channel Darter sites in Quebec following the publication of the 2002 COSEWIC Report
YearSite
1999Gatineau River (Comtois et al. 2004); Richelieu (N. Vachon, pers. comm.)
2001Richelieu River (Massé and Bilodeau 2003)
2002L’Assomption and Oureau rivers (CARA 2002); aux Outardes Est River (M. Letendre, unpubl. data); Sainte-Anne River (M. Arvisais, pers. comm.); Lake St. Pierre (FMN)
2003Saint-François River between Bromptonville and Windsor (M. Letendre, pers. comm.); Gatineau and Richelieu rivers (Boucher et al. 2009); Jacques-Cartier River (M. Arvisais, pers. comm.); Lake St. Pierre Archipelago (FMN)
2004:Gatineau River in the Rapides-Farmer area (Lemieux et al. 2005)
2005:Du Sud River downstream of the Arthurville powerplant at Saint-Raphaël (P.Y. Collin, pers. comm.)
2006Châteauguay, aux Outardes Est, des Anglais and Trout rivers (Garceau et al. 2007); Ottawa and Rouge rivers, as well as de Pointe-au-Chêne and Calumet creeks (Pariseau et al. 2007); Grondines-Donnaconna (FMN)
2007Saumon (Kinonge) rivers and de Pointe-au-Chêne Creek (H. Fournier, pers. comm.); Lake St. Pierre (FMN)
2008Saint-François River near East-Angus, upstream and downstream of the former Worby Dam (S. Garceau, pers. comm.)
2009L’Assomption and Ouareau rivers (Bourgeois et al. 2010); des Anglais River (Ambioterra 2010); Saint-François River between Bromptonville and Windsor (S. Garceau, pers. comm.); Lake St. François (FMN)

FMN = data from the St. Lawrence Fish Monitoring Network

APPENDIX G: Recent Fish Surveys (since 2000) in Areas of Channel Darter Occurrence (Ontario)

Appendix G is captioned “Recent fish surveys (since 2000) in areas of Channel Darter occurrence (Ontario)”.  The table details the year and location where fish surveys have been conducted in areas with Channel Darter records.  The gear type used for sampling is indicated by a superscripted letter beside each event.  The gear types used are: a = seine net, b = backpack electrofishing, and c = boat electrofishing.  The table has two columns and eight rows.  The first row is column headings.  From left to right, the first column heading is Waterbody/general area and the second column heading is Survey description (years of survey effort).  The second column details whether the survey was targeted for Channel Darter, the institution(s) that conducted the sampling, the year sampling occurred, and the gear type used.  Row one in the following description is the row immediately following the column headings.  The table is read left to right by row.  Row 1 is Waterbody/general area, Moira (including the Black and Skootamatta rivers), Salmon, and Napanee rivers, Survey description, Targeted Channel Darter survey, Trent University, OMNR (2001, 2003), seine net, backpack electrofishing.  Row 2 is Waterbody/general area, Little Rideau Creek, Survey description, Sampling for Cutlip Minnow, OMNR (2004), backpack electrofishing.  Row 3 is Waterbody/general area, Trent River, Survey description, Targeted Channel Darter sampling, Trent University/C. Portt and Associates (2002-2008). Backpack electrofishing.  Row 4 is Waterbody/general area, South Nation River, Survey description, Species at risk sampling, OMNR (2005), backpack fishing.

….Read the remainder of the table by row.

Recent fish surveys (since 2000) in areas of Channel Darter occurrence (Ontario)
Waterbody/general areaSurvey description (years of survey effort)
Moira (including the Black and Skootamatta rivers), Salmon and Napanee rivers
  • Targeted Channel Darter survey, Trent University, OMNR (2001, 2003)a,b
Little Rideau Creek
  • Sampling for Cutlip Minnow, OMNR (2004)b
Trent River
  • Targeted Channel Darter sampling, Trent University/C. Portt and Associates (2002-2008)b
South Nation River
  • Species at risk sampling, OMNR (2005)b
Lake Erie
  • Targeted Channel Darter surveys, OMNR/DFO (2005, 2006)a
  • Lake Erie Biodiversity Project, OMNR (2007)a,c
Lake St. Clair
  • Lake Erie Management Unit seining project, OMNR (2005, 2007)a
Long Point Bay (Lake Erie)
  • 3 year assessment of Inner Long Point Bay, OMNR (2007-2009)a,c

a – seine net; b – backpack electrofishing; c – boat electrofishing

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1 Several surveys resulting in new Channel Darter records have been completed since this recovery strategy was developed.  The data will be updated in the action plan.

2 Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

3 G4/N4/S4Apparently Secure: Uncommon but not rare; some cause for long-term concern due to declines or other factors; N3/S3Vulnerable: Vulnerable in the nation/state or province due to a restricted range, relatively few populations (often 80 or fewer), recent and widespread declines, or other factors making it vulnerable to extirpation; S2Imperilled: Imperilled in the state or province because of rarity due to very restricted range, very few populations (often 20 or fewer), steep declines, or other factors making it very vulnerable to extirpation from the state or province; S1Critically Imperilled: Critically imperilled in the state or province because of extreme rarity (often 5 or fewer occurrences) or because of some factor(s) such as very steep declines making it especially vulnerable to extirpation from the state or province.  For more information on ranking see NatureServe.

4 Several surveys in Ontario resulting in new Channel Darter records have been completed since this recovery strategy was developed.  The data will be updated in the action plan.

5 Several surveys in Quebec resulting in new Channel Darter records have been completed since this recovery strategy was developed.  The data will be updated in the action plan.

6 Note that, for lack of supporting data, a location was assumed to have a single population when population status was assessed by Bouvier and Mandrak (2010) and Boucher and Garceau (2010).

7 Wave action from passing boats that break on the shores of a river or stream can cause bank erosion. This erosion causes sediment re-suspension, which increases turbidity and silting of riverbeds.  Therefore, high tonnage vessels that sail on the St. Lawrence River and pleasure boating in smaller rivers can cause the loss and degradation of Channel Darter habitats. 

8 Members of Équipe de rétablissement des cyprinidés et petits percidés du Québec consider that the recovery approaches 1-5 to 1-8 are not needed at this time in Quebec.

9 Note that some locations may contain more than one population. In such cases, the MAPV would be applied to each discrete population.

10 Several surveys resulting in new Channel Darter records have been completed since this recovery strategy was developed.  The data will be updated in the action plan.


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