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Recovery Strategy for the Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) - Carolinian Population in Canada [Proposed] - 2014

Species at Risk Act
Recovery Strategy Series
Adopted under Section 44 of SARA

Five-lined Skink

Five-lined_Skink

Under the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk (1996), the federal, provincial, and territorial governments agreed to work together on legislation, programs, and policies to protect wildlife species at risk throughout Canada.

In the spirit of cooperation of the Accord, the Government of Ontario has given permission to the Government of Canada to adopt the Recovery Strategy for the Common Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) - Carolinian and Southern Shield populations in Ontario (Part 2) under Section 44 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Environment Canada has included an addition which completes the SARA requirements for this recovery strategy. 

The Government Response Statement to the Recovery Strategy for the Common Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) – Carolinian and Southern Shield populations in Ontario (Part 3) has also been included as part of the adoption process in order to clarify the priorities for implementation.  The Government Response Statement is the Ontario Government’s policy response to the recovery strategy and summarizes the prioritized actions that the Ontario Government intends to take. 

Environment Canada is adopting those portions of the provincial recovery strategy pertinent to the Five-lined Skink – Carolinian population, with the exception of section 2.3, Approaches to Recovery.  In its place, Environment Canada is adopting those portions of the Common Five-lined Skink Government Response Statement (GRS) pertinent to the Carolinian population. 

The federal recovery strategy for the Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) – Carolinian Population in Canada consists of three parts:

Part 1 - Federal Addition to the Recovery Strategy for the Common Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) – Carolinian and Southern Shield populations in Ontario, prepared by Environment Canada.

Part 2 – Recovery Strategy for the Common Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) – Carolinian and Southern Shield populations in Ontario, prepared by David C. Seburn for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.

Part 3 – The Government Response Statement to the Recovery Strategy for the Common Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) – Carolinian and Southern Shield populations in Ontario, prepared by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.

Table of Contents

Document Information

Part 1 - Federal Addition to the Recovery Strategy for the Common Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) – Carolinian and Southern Shield populations in Ontario, prepared by Environment Canada.

Part 2 – Recovery Strategy for the Common Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) – Carolinian and Southern Shield populations in Ontario, prepared by David C. Seburn for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.

Part 3 – The Government Response Statement to the Recovery Strategy for the Common Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) – Carolinian and Southern Shield populations in Ontario, prepared by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.

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Document Information

Recovery Strategy for the Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) - Carolinian Population in Canada [Proposed] - 2014

Five-lined Skink

Recommended citation:

Environment Canada. 2014. Recovery Strategy for the Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) – Carolinian Population in Canada [Proposed]. Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series. Environment Canada, Ottawa. 27 pp. + Appendices.

For copies of the recovery strategy, or for additional information on species at risk, including Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) Status Reports, residence descriptions, action plans, and other related recovery documents, please visit the Species at Risk Public Registry.

Cover illustration: © Ryan M. Bolton

Également disponible en français sous le titre « Programme de rétablissement du scinque pentaligne (Plestiodon fasciatus), population carolinienne, au Canada [Proposition] »

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of the Environment, 2014. All rights reserved.
ISBN
Catalogue no.

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

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Part 1 - Federal Addition to the Recovery Strategy for the Common Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) – Carolinian and Southern Shield populations in Ontario, prepared by Environment Canada.

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 the Environment and the Minister responsible for the Parks Canada Agency are the competent ministers for the recovery of the Five-lined Skink – Carolinian Population and have prepared the federal component of this recovery strategy (Part 1), as per section 37 of SARA.  It has been prepared with the cooperation of the Province of Ontario. SARA section 44 allows the Minister to adopt all or part of an existing plan for the species if it meets the requirements under SARA for content (sub-sections 41(1) or (2)). The Province of Ontario led the development of the attached recovery strategy for the species (Part 2) in cooperation with Environment Canada and the Parks Canada Agency. The Province of Ontario also led the development of the attached Government Response Statement (Part 3), which is the Ontario Government’s policy response to its provincial recovery strategy and summarizes the prioritized actions that the Ontario government intends to take.

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 Environment Canada, the Parks Canada Agency, or any other jurisdiction alone. All Canadians are invited to join in supporting and implementing this strategy for the benefit of the Five-lined Skink – Carolinian Population and Canadian society as a whole.

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

Acknowledgments

Development of the federal component of this recovery strategy (Part 1) was facilitated by Angela Darwin, Kari Van Allen, Paul Watton, Krista Holmes, Christina Rohe (Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service – Ontario) and Diana Macecek (formerly Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service – Ontario). Early drafts of the critical habitat section of the strategy were prepared by David C. Seburn (Seburn Ecological Services). Steve Hecnar, Briar Howes, and Carolyn Seburn provided their expertise during development of the federal component of this recovery strategy (Part 1). Contributions from Joe Crowley, Glenn Desy and Amelia Argue (Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources); Gary Allen (Parks Canada Agency); Paul Johanson (Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service – National Capital Region and Susan Humphrey, Lesley Dunn, Elizabeth Rezek, Barbara Slezak, Graham Bryan and Madeline Austen (Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service – Ontario) and Clint Jacobs (Walpole Island Heritage Centre) are also gratefully acknowledged.  

Acknowledgement and thanks is given to all other parties that provided advice and input used to help inform the development of this recovery strategy including various Aboriginal organizations and individuals, individual citizens, and stakeholders who provided input and/or participated in consultation meetings.

Additions and Modifications to the Adopted Document

The following sections have been included to address specific requirements of SARA that are not addressed in the Recovery Strategy for the Common Five-lined Skink[1] (Plestiodon fasciatus) – Carolinian and Southern Shield populations in Ontario (Part 2). In some cases, these sections may also include updated or modified information from that found in the provincial recovery strategy.

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1. Species Status Information

The global conservation rank for the Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) is secure[2] (G5). In the United States, the national conservation status is secure (N5), though the subnational conservation status varies from critically imperiled[3] (S1) to secure (S5) in the 34 states in which it is found (NatureServe 2011; Appendix 1).

In Canada, the Five-lined Skink is known only from the Province of Ontario. In April 2007, based on genetic evidence, range disjunction, and biogeographic distinction, the single Ontario population was reassigned from a single unit to two disjunct populations (COSEWIC 2007); the first is referred to as the Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) – Carolinian population and the second as the Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) – Great Lakes / St. Lawrence population[4].

This recovery strategy is specific to the Five-lined Skink – Carolinian population, which is listed as Endangered[5] on Schedule 1 of the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). In Ontario, the Five-lined Skink – Carolinian population is listed as Endangered[6] under the provincial Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA). The national conservation status of the Five-lined Skink – Carolinian population is imperiled (N2) and the subnational conservation rank in Ontario is imperiled (S2) (NatureServe 2011).

The Carolinian population of the Five-lined Skink is near the northern limit of the species’ range in Canada.  It is estimated that less than 5% of the global range of the Five-lined Skink (including both the Carolinian and Great Lakes/St. Lawrence populations) occurs in Canada[7]; the remainder occurs in the United States.

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2. Recovery Feasibility

Based on the following four criteria outlined by the draft SARA Policies (Government of Canada 2009), there are unknowns regarding the feasibility of recovery of the Five-lined Skink – Carolinian population.  In keeping with the precautionary principle, a recovery strategy has been prepared as per section 41(1) of SARA, as would be done when recovery is determined to be feasible. This recovery strategy addresses the unknowns surrounding the feasibility of recovery.

  1. Individuals of the wildlife species that are capable of reproduction are available now or in the foreseeable future to sustain the population or improve its abundance.

    Unknown. There are nine extant[8]element occurrences[9] in southern Ontario (NHIC 2011). It is uncertain whether there are adequate individuals to sustain the Canadian population or increase its abundance.  Additionally, even though the Five-lined Skink has a large range in eastern North America and several American states report secure population ranks (Appendix 1), it is unknown whether extant populations in the United States would be available to support recovery in Canada, or if recovery efforts involving such populations would be feasible.

  2. Sufficient suitable habitat is available to support the species or could be made available through habitat management or restoration.

    Unknown. Across its range, the Five-lined Skink is associated with a range of habitats, though the Carolinian population is primarily limited to stabilized dune habitat, open woods and savannahs with sandy substrates (COSEWIC 2007).  Cover objects, such as logs, boards and sheets of wood can be a limiting factor in habitat selection as can nest sites (i.e. logs in a moderate state of decay) and hibernation habitat (Seburn 2010).  Habitat suitable for the purposes of nesting and thermoregulation[10] can be made available through the maintenance or addition of cover objects in areas with Five-lined Skinks. However, little is known about habitat selection for hibernation in the Carolinian population, and as such it is unknown whether additional habitat could be made available through restoration for this part of the Five-lined Skink’s life-cycle (Seburn 2010).

  3. The primary threats to the species or its habitat (including threats outside Canada) can be avoided or mitigated.

    Yes.  Effective methods exist to mitigate against the primary threats to this species and/or its habitat.  For example, habitat degradation and road mortality (COSEWIC 2007; Seburn 2010) can be mitigated by activities aimed at habitat management and education (e.g. maintaining canopy openings in areas considered to be suitable habitat, seasonal road closures). 

  4. Recovery techniques exist to achieve the population and distribution objectives or can be expected to be developed within a reasonable timeframe.

    Yes.  A number of recovery techniques have been implemented at locations in southern Ontario.  Habitat enhancement projects have occurred at both Point Pelee National Park and Oxley Poison Sumac Swamp.  Targeted education and outreach programs have occurred at both Rondeau Provincial Park and Point Pelee National Park, and population monitoring and research into habitat trends, phylogeography[11] and genetic diversity is occurring range-wide (Seburn 2010). Additional approaches to recovery include the development and implementation of management measures to protect sites, reduce identified threats and increase available habitat (Seburn 2010).  Such approaches should allow for the maintenance of current element occurrences and the possible reversal of declining trends.

The Carolinian population of the Five-lined Skink is near the northern limit of the species’ range in Canada.  It has likely always been rare in Ontario, being largely limited to open areas with a sandy substrate such as stabilized dunes, old fields, tallgrass prairies, open woods and savannahs.  Because of its naturally limited distribution in Canada, it will likely always be vulnerable to both natural and human-influenced stressors.

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3. Species Information

3.1 Population and Distribution

The Five-lined Skink is found from Florida and Texas in the south to Minnesota and Ontario in the north (Figure 1). The range spans over 2.5 million square kilometres (COSEWIC 2007).

Figure 1: North American distribution of the Five-lined Skink[12]. Range distribution based on Royal Ontario Museum (2011).

Figure 1(See long description below)
Long description for figure 1

Figure 1 shows the North American distribution of the Five-lined Skink. The known distribution is shown as central and eastern United States with two small areas in Southern Ontario. The central northern United States is shown as an area of known occurrences, but unknown distribution. The Carolinian population is shown in extreme southern Ontario.

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As previously described, in Canada, the Five-lined Skink is limited to the Province of Ontario, where it is found in two widely separated areas (COSEWIC 2007; Figure 1). The Five-lined Skink – Carolinian population is restricted to a small area of southwestern Ontario, close to the shorelines of lakes Erie, St. Clair, and Huron. The estimated extent of occurrence[13] is 3 946 km² and the estimated area of occupancy is 88 km² (COSEWIC 2007). The Five-lined Skink – Great Lakes/St. Lawrence population is located along the southern edge of the Canadian Shield, from Georgian Bay in the west, to Leeds and Grenville County in the east. The estimated extent of occurrence[14] is 29 842 km² (COSEWIC 2007).

The Recovery Strategy for the Common Five-lined Skink (Pleistodon fasciatus) - Carolinian and Southern Shield populations in Ontario (Seburn 2010) indicates there are six extant[15] element occurrences in Ontario for the Carolinian population; however, additional information has been acquired since that document was posted. There are currently a total of 27 element occurrences for the Carolinian population as assessed by the Ontario Natural Heritage Information Centre (NHIC)[16], of which nine (33%) are considered extant, eight (30%) are considered historical and ten (37%) are considered extirpated[17](Appendix 2, see footnote 28). The Walpole Island occurrence is considered historical by the NHIC (2011). Local knowledge, however, confirms the species is extant on the First Nation (C. Jacobs pers. comm. 2006 in COSEWIC 2007); therefore, this species is considered extant on the Walpole Island First Nation in this document (Figure 2, Appendix 2, footnote 28).

Figure 2: Distribution of the Five-lined Skink – Carolinian population in Canada. Occurrence information from COSEWIC (2007) and NHIC (2011). Note that some occurrences are in close proximity to each other, therefore some symbols may overlap.

Figure 2(See long description below)
Long description for figure 2

Figure 2 shows the Canadian distribution of the Five-lined Skink, Carolinian population in extreme southern Ontario. The locations of extant, historic, and extirpated populations are shown.

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Estimating population abundance of Five-lined Skinks is difficult both because they spend much of their time concealed under or inside cover objects making them difficult to survey, and because their activity patterns change throughout the year (COSEWIC 2007). Abundance data for the Carolinian population is lacking at most locations. Effective population sizes[18] were calculated in COSEWIC (2007) for two element occurrences in the Carolinian population: 291 and 306 for Rondeau Provincial Park and Point Pelee National Park, respectively.  However, estimates of effective population size cannot be directly compared to census population size estimates, because these population survey methods have not been simultaneously employed in a single population (COSEWIC 2007).  While the ratio of effective population size varies among species, it is typically 11% of census estimates (Frankham 1995).   

There is little information on population trends of the Five-lined Skink – Carolinian population. The element occurrences ranked as historical may indicate a reduction in the number of element occurrences, or a lack of recent observations. Five-lined Skink populations can vary naturally as a result of variable reproductive success from one year to the next (Fitch 1954) and human disturbance can lead to population declines (Hecnar and M’Closkey 1998). Abundance at Rondeau Provincial Park appears to be stable (COSEWIC 2007) though little quantitative data are available (Seburn 2010). At Point Pelee National Park, home to the largest estimated sub-population, estimates indicate a downward population trend from 1990 to 1996, followed by increases in abundance in the period of 1997 to 2001, with record high numbers documented in 2001-2002 (Hecnar and Hecnar 2011).  Analysis of the abundance from 1990 to 2010 indicates a relatively stable but variable sub-population (Hecnar and Hecnar 2011).  Population modeling suggests that the Point Pelee National Park subpopulation is at significant risk of extirpation given the inherent variability in abundance (Hecnar and Hecnar 2009 in Seburn 2010), and it is very likely that other Carolinian sub-populations are also at risk of extirpation (Seburn 2010).

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4. Population and Distribution Objective

The Recovery Strategy for the Common Five-lined Skink(Plestiodon fasciatus) – Carolinian and Southern Shield populations in Ontario (Part 2) contains the following recovery goal:

  • The recovery goal for the Carolinian population of the Common Five-lined Skink is to ensure the long term survival of all remaining sub-populations[19].

Under SARA, population and distribution objectives for the species must be established. The population and distribution objective established by Environment Canada is to ensure the long-term viability and survival of the Five-lined Skink – Carolinian population. The focus has been placed on persistence of the Carolinian population as a whole. This objective is consistent with the goal identified in Ontario’s  Government Response Statement to the Recovery Strategy for the Common Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) – Carolinian and Southern Shield populations in Ontario (Part 3), which contains the following goal:

  • The government’s goal for the recovery of the Common Five-lined Skink is to ensure the long-term viability and survival of both designated populations in Ontario.

5. Broad Strategies and General Approaches to Meet Objectives

The Government-Led and Government-Supported Actions tables from the Government Response Statement (GRS) to the Recovery Strategy for the Common Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) – Carolinian and Southern Shield populations in Ontario (GRS) (Part 3) are adopted as the broad strategies and general approaches to meet the population and distribution objectives for the Five-lined Skink – Carolinian population.  In addition, this Recovery Strategy includes an extension of the GRS encouraging the transfer of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and local knowledge amongst landowners, managers and others regarding past trends, land use and perceived threats. For further clarity, EC is not adopting the approaches identified in Section 2.3 of the Recovery Strategy for the Common Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) – Carolinian and Southern Shield populations in Ontario (Part 2).

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6. Critical Habitat

6.1 Identification of the Species’ Critical Habitat

Under SARA, critical habitat is defined as ‘the habitat that is 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’. In this document, the benchmark for survival and recovery is outlined in the population and distribution objective (Section 4).

Identification of critical habitat is not a component of the provincial recovery strategy prepared for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources under the Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA). However, the province has created a habitat regulation for the Five-lined Skink- Carolinian population which describes the area being considered as habitat under the provincial ESA (See Appendix 3: Ontario Regulation 122/12 – Common Five-lined Skink (Carolinian population) Habitat for a description of the provincial habitat regulation that came into effect July 1, 2012).

The critical habitat under SARA will be consistent with the regulated habitat under Ontario’s ESA  for Five-lined Skink – Carolinian population occurrences where the occurrences are in naturally occurring [and certain cultural] habitats (i.e. , habitats that meet the suitable habitat criteria (Section 6.1.1)). However, unlike the provincial habitat regulation for Common Five-lined Skink, critical habitat under SARA will not include certain non-natural habitat types at this time. Environment Canada has taken this approach because although additional non-natural habitat may sometimes be beneficial to individual Five-lined Skinks, natural (and some naturalized) areas comprise the vast majority of the known habitat for the Five-lined Skink – Carolinian population.  Therefore these natural (and some naturalized) areas are considered critical to the long-term persistence of this population. Individual Five-lined Skink – Carolinian population occurrences, including those in non-natural habitats, are protected under the ESA for a prescribed period of time.

Critical habitat for the Five-lined Skink – Carolinian population is identified in this recovery strategy to the extent possible based on the best available information. Critical habitat is identified for seven out of nine known extant element occurrences in natural habitats. This is considered a partial identification of critical habitat, as an evaluation of the presence or absence of the species for some element occurrences is required (i.e. occurrences considered to be extant, but where data is currently incomplete or unavailable to Environment Canada OR occurrences are considered to be historical (i.e. where suitable habitat exists, but where no standardized surveys have occurred in the past 20 years)). In addition, insufficient information is available on the contribution human-influenced habitats have in long-term viability and survival of the overall population. Human-influenced habitats are not identified as critical habitat for Five-lined Skink – Carolinian population. The Schedule of Studies (Section 6.2) outlines the activities required for identification of any additional critical habitat necessary to support the population and distribution objective.

The identification of critical habitat for the Five-lined Skink is based on the following two criteria: suitable habitat and site occupancy. 

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6.1.1 Suitable Habitat

Suitable habitat is characterized as the areas where individuals of the species carry out essential aspects of their life cycle (e.g., foraging, nesting and hibernating) in Canada. The Carolinian population of the Five-lined Skink is largely limited to open areas with a sandy substrate within a few kilometres (often less than 1 km) of the shores of lakes Erie, St. Clair and Huron. Known habitats include stabilized dunes, sand barrens, old fields, tallgrass prairies, beaches, open woods and savannahs. Within these habitats, Five-lined Skinks are primarily associated with cover objects that are used for nest microsites, thermoregulation and concealment from predators. The amount and quality of cover objects (e.g., rocks, logs), are key features of suitable habitat for the Five-lined Skink. The most common cover object type used by the Five-lined Skink – Carolinian population tends to be woody debris (COSEWIC 2007); and skinks typically prefer large logs that are greater than 15 cm in diameter and in a moderate state of decay (Seburn 1993; Hecnar 1994). Large cover objects with more surface area may provide soil moisture conditions preferred by Five-lined Skinks to mitigate drying. Without appropriate cover objects, the species is prone to desiccation[20] stress and extreme temperatures (COSEWIC 2007). Artificial cover objects such as boards or building materials can also be an important habitat component (Seburn 1990). Five-lined Skinks appear to have some tolerance for human presence in the landscape and will use artificial cover objects although natural objects are preferred for nest microsites (Seburn 1990; Hecnar and M’Closkey 1998). There are numerous observations of Five-lined Skinks associated with man-made structures, such as paved surfaces including roads, buildings and decks, but the net benefit or detriment to the species from use of these structures is unknown. As such, man-made structures are not currently considered suitable habitat.

It is important to note that assessment of suitable habitat for the Carolinian population of the Five-lined Skink is primarily based on observations of individuals under cover objects at specific locations, particularly at Point Pelee National Park. There is limited information available on either movement patterns or hibernation habitat in Canada.

The extent of habitat occupied by the Five-lined Skink is highly variable. Five-lined Skinks generally limit their activities to small, familiar areas with seasonal movements occasionally exceeding 200m but typically less than 25m (Fitch 1954). The size and shape of the habitat used by Five-lined Skinks can vary greatly between sites, depending upon habitat availability. Home ranges for individuals in a Kansas population were estimated to be between 270 and 578 (Fitch 1954) but the boundaries were not strictly defined. Five-lined Skinks are not territorial and can shift activity centres more than once during their active season. This can result in home ranges exceeding 2 000 (Fitch and von Achen 1977).  Juveniles are more active and will shift to new areas more frequently within a season than adults (Fitch 1954).  Individuals regularly use areas outside of their home range to breed and nest although females tend to return to their original home range after their eggs have hatched (Seburn 1993).

The amount of available Five-lined Skink habitat can change over time; it can decrease as a result of natural successional processes that alter its early successional habitat or increase through fires or other disturbances (COSEWIC 2007).

Suitable habitat for the Five-lined Skink is identified using the Ecological Land Classification (ELC) framework for Ontario (Lee et al. 1998). The ELC framework provides a standardized approach to the interpretation and delineation of ecosystem boundaries. As the microhabitat features within the larger site area appear to be more important to Five-lined Skinks than the specific vegetation species composition (e.g., ecosite), the ELC community class unit was chosen. Suitable habitat for the Five-lined Skink - Carolinian population includes the following ELC community classes:

  • Beach/Bar (BB)
  • Sand Barren (SB)
  • Sand Dune (SD)
  • Tallgrass Prairie, Savannah or Woodland (TP)
  • Forest (FO)

Select cultural habitats are also considered suitable habitat for the Five-lined Skink. Cultural meadows include old fields typically containing open areas often having a large portion of introduced species with the presence of some trees and shrubs[21]. These areas result from or are maintained by cultural disturbances. Suitable habitat for Five-lined Skink – Carolinian population also includes the following ELC community series unit:

  • Cultural Meadow (CUM)

Although much of the forest habitat may not be suitable given the level of canopy closure, openings may provide suitable habitat for individuals of the Five-lined Skink – Carolinian population. In addition, areas of suitable habitat may shift with changes in moisture level or disturbance (e.g.tree harvesting). Many individuals have been observed along the edges of trails in forest habitat and individuals may move within the forest habitat in between canopy openings. As such, forest is included as a component of suitable habitat.

This list of ELC community classes used by individuals of the Five-lined Skink – Carolinian population may not be exhaustive as no thorough analysis of habitat use has been conducted. As more information becomes available, this list may be modified.

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6.1.2 Site Occupancy

Site Occupancy Criterion: The site occupancy criterion is defined as a site (defined below) where one or more individuals of the Five-lined Skink - Carolinian population have been observed in any single year since 1992.

A 20 year time period is appropriate given the cryptic nature of the Five-lined Skink and its ability to persist even in small pockets of suitable habitat. Skinks spend the greater part of their day under cover elements making them difficult to survey. Further, individuals may shift their home range throughout the active season which can result in underestimates of the population size (COSEWIC 2007). The selected time period balances available occurrence information with the duration of habitat suitability, as these ecosystems are dynamic. Available information used for identifying critical habitat is between 1992 and 2011.

A site is defined by a 30m boundary around an occurrence of the Five-lined Skink - Carolinian population. Where any portion of a suitable habitat area intersects 30m of each occurrence, the entire suitable habitat area (ELC community class or community series) is considered occupied and is included as critical habitat. In addition, all suitable contiguous adjacent habitat areas that create larger complexes of suitable habitat are also considered critical habitat (Figure 3a). The 30m radial site is a precautionary estimate of the size of a Five-lined Skink’s home range (Fitch 1954) and represents average tree height, or the area of a microhabitat important to an individual Skink within suitable habitat. Applying this area around an occurrence considers that the individual skink may be moving through habitats and therefore identifies all suitable habitat within that area as habitat occupied by the skink.

As skinks can move through wetlands (i.e. , marshes, swamps) into adjacent suitable habitat, these areas are considered habitat corridors. All suitable habitat that is connected to the occupied and contiguous suitable habitat complex by adjacent wetland areas is also identified as critical habitat (Figure 3b). While wetlands are not considered suitable habitat and thus are not critical habitat for the Five-lined Skink, these corridors maintain functional and structural connectivity of suitable habitat complexes for Five-lined Skinks in the Carolinian population. This is an important consideration where this species occurs (i.e., in Southern Ontario) where the rates and extent of habitat loss and fragmentation are very high.

Figure 3a: Suitable habitat (represented by grey shading; See Section 6.1.1) identified for a single Five-lined Skink – Carolinian population occurrence (represented by “X”). Swamp – in this example, is illustrative of a habitat corridor (which is not considered suitable habitat) but does enable access into adjacent suitable habitat areas.

Figure 3a(See long description below)
Long description for figure 3a

Figure 3 is a series of schematic diagrams illustrating the critical habitat identification process for this species. Figure 3a shows the occurrence of a species, and the surrounding types of habitat that would be considered suitable versus types that would be considered unsuitable.

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Figure 3b: The extent of a site containing critical habitat (shaded area) for a single Five-lined Skink – Carolinian population occurrence. Barriers to the Five-lined Skink are discontinuities to critical habitat and include large bodies of water and major roads (e.g.highways).

Figure 3b (See long description below)
Long description for figure 3b

Figure 3 is a series of schematic diagrams illustrating the critical habitat identification process for this species. Figure 3b illustrates that the surrounding suitable habitat types merge together to become one critical habitat site.

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6.1.3 Application of the Five-lined Skink – Carolinian Population Critical Habitat Criteria

Critical habitat for the Five-lined Skink - Carolinian population is identified as the entire contiguous habitat complex composed of ELC community class or community series areas considered suitable habitat (as described in Section 6.1.1) in which the Five-lined Skink has been found according to the Site Occupancy Criterion (Section 6.1.2).  Critical habitat for the Five-lined Skink - Carolinian population is consistent with the provincial habitat regulation for Common Five-lined Skink (Carolinian population) in naturally occurring [and certain cultural] areas for a prescribed period of time (see Appendix 3: Ontario Regulation: 122/12 – Common Five-lined Skink (Carolinian population) Habitat).

Barriers to the Five-lined Skink include large bodies of water and major roads (e.g. highways), however, suitable habitat or adjacent areas of suitable habitat that are bisected by non-major roads or small streams are considered contiguous suitable habitat for the Five-lined Skink - Carolinian population. The collection of suitable habitat areas and complexes linked together by wetlands are together considered a site containing critical habitat.

Critical habitat is identified for naturally occurring areas of suitable habitat where the Five-lined Skink – Carolinian population is known to persist. Although the Five-lined Skink may at times occupy only a small portion of the suitable habitat area, the entire, adjacent suitable habitat complex defined by the ELC community class and community series areas is identified as critical habitat. Maintaining contiguous suitable habitat facilitates movement of the species between and among areas where individuals carry out essential aspects of their life cycle. The addition of suitable yet unoccupied habitat that joins together occupied habitat, allows movement between habitat areas, prevents habitat patches from becoming isolated from each other, recognizes the dynamic nature of these habitats, and will allow for the expansion of occurrences. Further, adjacent suitable unoccupied habitat may be a result of inconsistent survey efforts and/or underestimations of population size due to this species’ cryptic nature, and it is possible that skink individuals occur in portions of adjacent suitable habitat types. Five-lined Skinks regularly use areas outside their home range to breed and nest (Seburn 1993).

Although individuals of the Carolinian population of the Five-lined Skink may be observed in locations outside of what has been described as suitable habitat, these locations are not included in the identification of critical habitat (e.g. paved surfaces, buildings, decks). Any portion of non-suitable habitat within the site is not considered critical habitat. There is currently insufficient information to identify human-influenced habitats as critical habitat for Five-lined Skink – Carolinian population (See Schedule of Studies to Identify Critical Habitat, Section 6.2). Human-influenced  habitats may be critical for some local Five-lined Skink - Carolinian subpopulations but it is unclear the role these habitats play in overall population viability and survival, and there are currently large tracts of naturally occurring suitable habitat available for the Five-lined Skink at all but one known subpopulation. Thus, the inclusion of human-influenced habitat in critical habitat identification at this time would be an overly precautionary measure and is not considered necessary to meet population and distribution objectives for Five-lined Skink – Carolinian population at this time. Therefore, critical habitat is only identified for Five-lined Skink – Carolinian population in naturally occurring [and certain cultural] habitats at this time, i.e. , habitats that meet the suitable habitat criteria (Section 6.1.1). These are the optimal habitat areas likely contributing the largest net benefit to species’ persistence, resilience and recovery of the population as a whole. As new information becomes available (e.g. habitat use), the suitability criteria may be modified. Where Five-lined Skink – Carolinian population individuals occur in Ontario, in areas not identified as suitable habitat in Section 6.1.1, the area within 50m of the observation is protected under the ESA for a prescribed period of time (see Appendix 3: Ontario Regulation 122/12 – Common Five-lined Skink (Carolinian population) Habitat).

Application of the critical habitat criteria to available data as of October 2011 identifies eight sites containing critical habitat for the Five-lined Skink – Carolinian population (Table 1).  These eight sites represent seven of nine known extant element occurrences in the Carolinian population. The extant element occurrence at Pinery Provincial Park is represented by two critical habitat sites. It is important to note that the coordinates presented in this document are a cartographic representation of the sites, and not the extent or boundaries of the critical habitat itself. As additional information becomes available, critical habitat may be refined or more sites meeting critical habitat criteria may be added.

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Table 1: Sites identified as containing critical habitat for Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) - Carolinian Population in Ontario. Critical habitat for Five-lined Skink- Carolinian Population occurs within these 10 km UTM grid squares where the criteria described in Section 6.1 are met.
Element OccurrenceCoordinate representing the site[1]

(Easting)
Coordinate representing the site[1]

(Northing)
# of critical habitat site centroids within the grid[2]Total site area (ha) within the grid that contains critical habitat[3]CountyLand Tenure[4]
Point Pelee National Park370000464000011079EssexFederal
Pinery Provincial Park42000047800000468LambtonNon-federal
Pinery Provincial Park430000478000011150LambtonNon-federal
Pinery Provincial Park430000479000011398LambtonNon-federal
Rondeau Provincial Park42000046700000355Chatham-KentNon-federal
Rondeau Provincial Park4300004670000042Chatham-KentNon-federal
Rondeau Provincial Park42000046800001590Chatham-KentNon-federal
Rondeau Provincial Park43000046800000346Chatham-KentNon-federal
Oxley Poison Sumac Swamp3400004650000149EssexNon-federal
Sheldon Creek Headwaters5900004800000167HaltonNon-federal
Springarden Road Prairie330000467000005EssexNon-federal
Springarden Road Prairie33000046800001116EssexNon-federal
Caistor-Canborough Slough Forest (Niagara)60000047600001692Niagara and HaldimandNon-federal
Caistor-Canborough Slough Forest (Niagara)61000047600000377Niagara and HaldimandNon-federal
  Total8 sites6,748 ha  

1The listed coordinates are a cartographic representation of critical habitat presented as the southwest corner of the 10 km Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) Military Grid Reference System square containing the critical habitat site (see http://maps.nrcan.gc.ca/topo101/mil_ref_e.php for more information on the reference system). The coordinates may not fall within critical habitat and are provided as a general location only.
2A value of "0" means the grid square contains a portion of (a) critical habitat site(s) but not the site centroid.
3The area presented is of the site boundary (rounded up to the nearest 1 ha) containing areas of critical habitat; therefore, the actual area of critical habitat within this boundary may be significantly less. Field verification is required to determine the precise area of critical habitat. Refer to Section 6.1 for a description of how critical habitat within these areas is defined.
4Land Tenure is provided as an approximation of land ownership of the site containing critical habitat and should be used for guidance purposes only. Accurate land tenure will require cross referencing critical habitat boundaries with surveyed land parcel information.

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Although the presence of an extant element occurrence of Five-lined Skink has been confirmed at both Walpole Island (C. Jacobs pers. comm. 2006 in COSEWIC 2007) and Sarnia, the data required to satisfy the critical habitat criteria (i.e. , location and verified observation, biophysical habitat attributes) are not yet available to Environment Canada. Confirming the biophysical habitat attributes (i.e. , extent and amount of the ELC community classes and series of suitable habitat (as listed in Section 6.1.1)) at these two locations is required. A confirmation of the location and extent of the Five-lined Skink population on the Walpole Island First Nation is also required. Once adequate information is available for use, additional critical habitat may be identified. Critical habitat is not identified for historical element occurrences (8 sites, see Appendix 2 including footnote 28).  Additional surveys are required to confirm if element occurrences are extant or extirpated (Schedule of Studies to Identify Critical Habitat, Section 6.2). Once assessments are completed, additional critical habitat may be identified.

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6.2 Schedule of Studies to Identify Critical Habitat

Table 2: Schedule of Studies to Identify Critical Habitat.
Description of ActivityRationaleTimeline

Conduct surveys and habitat assessments for those Five-lined Skink – Carolinian population element occurrences which:

  • are considered to be extant, but where critical habitat has yet to be identified (i.e. where data is currently incomplete or unavailable to Environment Canada)
  • are considered to be historical (i.e. where suitable habitat exists, but where no standardized population surveys have occurred in the past 20 years).

Assess the dependancy of Five-lined Skink – Carolinian population on human-influenced habitats for survival and the extent to which these habitats contribute to overall population viability, especially where there appears to be sufficient naturally occurring suitable habitat.

Determine whether or not suitable habitat exists and is occupied and therefore can be identified as critical habitat. Identify additional critical habitat.

Determine whether or not human-influenced habitat use is critical to the viability and survival of the Canadian population. Identification of additional critical habitat, if new information supports the inclusion of areas beyond those currently identified.
2014-2019

2014-2019

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6.3 Activities Likely to Result in Destruction of Critical Habitat

Destruction is determined on a case by case basis. Destruction would result if part of the critical habitat were degraded, either permanently or temporarily, such that it would not serve its function when needed by the species. Destruction may result from a single activity or multiple activities at a given point in time or from the cumulative effects of one or more activities over time (Government of Canada 2009).

Small scale or light disturbances within suitable habitat can be beneficial to the Five-lined Skink - Carolinian population. The local distribution of Five-lined Skink changes somewhat from year to year with habitat suitability (e.g., new openings within their forest habitat). As a result, some disturbance to Five-lined Skink habitat may be beneficial to the species, opening up suitable areas within a given site.

Activities that are likely to result in the destruction of Five-lined Skink critical habitat include, but may not be limited to:

  • Activities that result in the net removal, disturbance or destruction of cover objects (e.g., the collection of rocks, logs and boards for various purposes including building rock gardens or other structures; using wood as firewood, lumber or for ornamental purposes; facilitating trail riding by ATVs or dirt bikes; and/or clearing from beaches for aesthetic reasons). These activities reduce the habitat available for thermoregulation and/or nesting by Five-lined Skinks. Without appropriate cover objects, the species is prone to desiccation stress and extreme temperatures (COSEWIC 2007).
  • Timber harvesting that reduces the forest canopy cover below 75% closure that leads to altered hydrology, soil moisture levels and/or understory temperature.  These activities reduce soil moisture conditions preferred by Five-lined Skinks and make the species prone to desiccation, stress and extreme temperatures.
  • Activities that create hardened surfaces within critical habitat (e.g., construction of buildings, paved driveways and roads).  These activities reduce the amount of habitat available to the species for the purpose of foraging, nesting and hibernation.
  • Activities that alter the hydrology or moisture levels within or adjacent to, critical habitat in such a manner as to cause soils to become too wet or too moist (e.g., inappropriate or poorly applied surface irrigation techniques).  These activities reduce the species nesting, egg rearing and/or hibernation success.
  • Activities that cause soil disturbance, including soil compression (e.g., the use of motorized vehicles), which result in the destruction of critical habitat by decreasing the amount of habitat available to the species for the purposes of hibernation (i.e. by destroying underground burrows).
  • Activities that change natural processes and disturbances (e.g., wave-action, wind) within or adjacent to critical habitat, such as the construction of dykes, dams and other barriers.  These activities can affect sand deposition and erosion rates and decrease the amount of habitat available to the species for the purposes of nesting, egg rearing and/or hibernation.
  • Activities that make areas of critical habitat unavailable to the species (e.g., limiting movement through connecting habitat corridors such as wetlands). This reduces the amount of habitat available to the species for the purposes of foraging, nesting and hibernation.

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7. Statement on Action Plans

One or more action plans will be completed for the Five-lined Skink – Carolinian population by December 2020. At least one of these action plans is expected to include an area-based, multi-species approach and be prepared in collaboration with the Walpole Island First Nation.

8. 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 strategies itself, but are also summarized below in this statement.

Recovery activities that protect the habitat of the Five-lined Skink – Carolinian population will likely also benefit a number of other species that make use of similar habitats; in particular, other species that inhabit stabilized dune habitats, old fields, tallgrass prairies, open woods and savannahs with sandy substrates near the shorelines of lakes Erie, St. Clair and Huron (Table 3).  

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Table 3: Some of the species that may benefit from conservation and management of Five-lined Skink habitat in those areas where the Five-lined Skink - Carolinian population occurs.
Common NameScientific NameCOSEWIC Status
Spring Blue-eyed MaryCollinsia vernaExtirpated
American GinsengPanax quinquefoliusEndangered
Butler’s GartersnakeThamnophis butleriEndangered
Cerulean WarblerDendroica ceruleaEndangered
Eastern FoxsnakePantherophisgloydiEndangered
Fowler’s ToadAnaxyrus fowleriEndangered
Henslow’s SparrowAmmodramus henslowiiEndangered
Jefferson SalamanderAmbystoma jeffersonianumEndangered
Lake Erie WatersnakeNerodia sipedon insularumEndangered
Eastern Hog-nosed snakeHeterodon platirhinosThreatened
Eastern Musk TurtleSternotherus odoratusThreatened
Flooded JellyskinLeptogium rivulareThreatened
Eastern RibbonsnakeThamnophis sauritusSpecial Concern
MilksnakeLampropeltistriangulumSpecial Concern
BrownsnakeStoreria dekayiNot at Risk
Northern WatersnakeNerodia sipedon sipedonNot at Risk
Northern Redbelly SnakeStoreria occipitomaculataNot at Risk
Smooth GreensnakeLiochlorophis vernalisNot at Risk

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While some of the proposed recovery activities will benefit the environment in general and are expected to positively affect other sympatric native species, there could be consequences to those species whose requirements differ from those of the Five-lined Skink – Carolinian population. For example, maintaining an approximate 75% canopy cover preferred by the Five-lined Skink would need to be balanced with the needs of other rare species in the same area that require a more closed woodland, for example, the Acadian Flycatcher (Empidonax virescens).

Consequently, it is important that recovery activities for the Five-lined Skink be considered from an ecosystem perspective through the development, with input from responsible jurisdictions, of multi-species plans, ecosystem-based recovery programs or area management plans that take into account the needs of multiple species, including other species at risk. Many of the stewardship and habitat improvement activities to benefit the Five-lined Skink – Carolinian population will be guided by existing ecosystem-based recovery plans that have already taken into account the needs of other species at risk (e.g., Pinery Provincial Park Management Plan, Point Pelee National Park Management Plan, draft Walpole Island Ecosystem Recovery Strategy).

This recovery strategy directly contributes to the goals and targets of the Federal Sustainability Development Strategy for Canada (FSDS). Specifically, it will help to restore populations of wildlife to healthy levels and maintain productive and resilient ecosystems with the capacity to recover and adapt (Goals 5 and 6 of the FSDS).

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References

Conant, R., and J.T. Collins. 1998. Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians: Eastern and Central North America. Fourth Addition. Boston, Houghton Mifflin.

COSEWIC 2007. COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the Five-lined Skink Eumeces fasciatus (Carolinian population and Great Lakes/St. Lawrence population) in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. vii + 50 pp.

Fitch, H. S. 1954. Life history and ecology of the five-lined skink, Eumeces fasciatus. University of Kansas Publications of the Museum of Natural History 8:1-156.

Fitch, H.S. and P.L. von Achen. 1977. Spatial relationships and seasonality in the skinks Eumeces fasciatus and Scincella laterale in northeastern Kansas. Herpetologica 33:303-313

Frankham, R. 1995. Effective population size/ adult population size ratios in wildlife: a review. Genetical Research 66: 95-107.

Government of Canada. 2009. Species at Risk ActPolicies. Overarching Policy Framework [Draft]. Species at Risk Act Policy and Guidelines Series. Environment Canada. Ottawa. 38 pp.

Hammerson, G.A., D. Schweitzer, L. Master and J. Cordeiro.  January 11 2008. Generic Guidelines for the Application of Occurrence Ranks.

Hecnar, S. J. 1994. Nest distribution, site selection, and brooding in the five-lined skink (Eumeces fasciatus). Canadian Journal of Zoology 72:1510-1516

Hecnar, S. J., and D. R. Hecnar. 2009. Five-lined skink research at Point Pelee National Park 2009. Report of contract 45237116.

Hecnar, S. J., and D. R. Hecnar. 2011. Five-lined Skink research at Point Pelee National Park 2010. Report of Contract 45285641.

Hecnar, S. J. and R. T. M’Closkey. 1998. Effects of human disturbance on five-lined skink (Eumeces fasciatus) abundance and distribution. Biological Conservation 85: 213-222.

Jacobs, C., pers. comm.  2006.  Telephone conversation with Briar J. Howes.  Natural Heritage Coordinator, Walpole Island Heritage Centre, Wallaceburg, Ontario.  

Lee, H. T., Bakowsky, W. D., Riley, J., Bowles, J., Puddister, M., Uhlig, P., and S. McMurray. 1998. Ecological Land Classification for Southern Ontario: First Approximation and Its Application. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Southcentral Science Section, Science Development and Transfer Branch. SCSS Field Guide FG-02.

Natural Heritage Information Centre (NHIC). 2011. Species Element Occurrence Report: Eumeces fasciatus. Website of the Natural Heritage Information Centre of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Accessed 6 June, 2011.

NatureServe. 2011. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. (Accessed: June 6, 2011).

Royal Ontario Museum (ROM).  2011.  Distribution: Common Five-lined Skink.  Accessed 13 October 2011.

Seburn, C. N. L. 1990. Population ecology of the five-lined skink, Eumeces fasciatus, at Point Pelee National Park, Canada. Unpublished Master’s thesis, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario, Canada. 165 pp.

Seburn, C. N. L. 1993. Spatial distribution and microhabitat use in the five-lined skink (Eumeces fasciatus). Canadian Journal of Zoology 71:445-450.

Seburn, D. C. 2010. Recovery strategy for the Common Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) – Carolinian and Southern Shield populations in Ontario. Ontario Recovery Strategy Series. Prepared for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Peterborough, Ontario. vi + 22 pp.

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Appendix 1: Natureserve ranks and definitions

Table 4: Subnational conservation ranks (S-ranks) for the Five-lined Skink in North America (NatureServe 2011).
CountryState/Province and NatureServe status ranks
CanadaOntario (S3)
United StatesAlabama (S5), Arkansas (S5), Connecticut (S1), Delaware (S5), District of Columbia (S4), Florida (SNR), Georgia (S5), Indiana (S4), Iowa (S4), Kansas (S5), Kentucky (S5), Louisiana (S5), Maryland (S5), Massachusetts (SX), Michigan (S3), Minnesota (S3), Mississippi (S5), Missouri (S5), Nebraska (S1), New Jersey (SU), New York (S3), North Carolina (S5), Ohio (SNR), Oklahoma (S5), Pennsylvania (S4), South Carolina (SNR), South Dakota (SU), Tennessee (S5), Texas (S5), Vermont (S1), Virginia (S5), West Virginia (S5), Wisconsin (S4)

S1: Critically Imperiled; S3: Vulnerable; S4: Apparently Secure; S5: Secure; SNR: Unranked – Status not yet assessed; SU: Unrankable.

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Appendix 2: Five-lined Skink - Carolinian Population element occurrences in Canada[*]

Element Occurrence NameSeburn 2010 (Figure 1)COSEWIC (2007)NHIC 2011Year Last Observed
Point Pelee National Park2000-20091995-presentExtant2008
Rondeau Provincial Park2000-20091995-presentExtant2010
Pinery Provincial Park2000-20091995-presentExtant2010[1]
Sarnia Area2000-2009 Extant2009
Oxley Poison Sumac Swamp2000-20091995-presentExtant2007
Caistor Canborough Slough Forest  Extant2007[2]
Walpole Island2000-20091995-presentHistorical1987[3]
Sheldon Creek HeadwatersPre-2000 Extant1992
Springarden Road Prairie Observed 1984-1994Extant1992
Dolson Creek Area2000-2009Observed 1984-1994Historical1989
WheatleyPre-2000Observed 1984-1994Historical1987
Kopegaron Woods Conservation AreaPre-2000Observed 1984-1994Historical1986
Short Hills Wilderness Area  Historical1982
Hillman Sandhills Environmentally Sensitive AreaPre-2000 Historical1981
Thames River, Bothwell  Historical1970
Newbury  Historical1963
WindsorExtirpated Historical1970
ArnerExtirpated Extirpated1934
Tilbury VicinityExtirpated Extirpated1881
Tilbury Northside Conservation AreaExtirpatedObserved 1984-1994Extirpated1986
Fletcher VicinityExtirpated Extirpated1961
Erieau, near Rondeau Provincial ParkExtirpated Extirpated1968
Sarnia VicinityExtirpated Extirpated1934
Skunks MiseryExtirpated Extirpated1970
SmithvilleExtirpated Extirpated1950
VinelandExtirpated Extirpated1935
St. CatherinesExtirpated Extirpated1938

*The data contained in this appendix was extracted from COSEWIC 2007, Seburn 2010 and NHIC 2011. Please consult these sources for additional information.
1Note that this element occurrence produces 2 Critical Habitat sites.
22007 record from Guelph District (Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources) Species at Risk Database, submitted to NHIC in 2009.
3Although there are no post-1995 records for the Walpole Island First Nation in the Ontario Herpetofauna Summary (Oldham and Weller 2000), skinks have been incidentally observed there during the period of 2002-2004 (C. Jacobs pers. comm. 2006 in COSEWIC 2007) and the element occurrence is reflected as extant in Section 3.1 and Figure 2.

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Appendix 3: Ontario regulation 122/12 - Common Five-lined Skink (Carolinian population) habitat

Ontario Regulation 122/12

made under the

Endangered Species Act, 2007

Made: May 30, 2012
Filed: June 1, 2012
Published on e-Laws: June 1, 2012
Printed in The Ontario Gazette: June 16, 2012

Amending O. Reg. 242/08

(General)

Note: Ontario Regulation 242/08 has previously been amended. For the legislative history of the Regulation, see the Table of Consolidated Regulations – Detailed Legislative History.

1. Section 1 of Ontario Regulation 242/08 is amended by adding the following subsection:

(2) A reference in this Regulation to a geographic area is a reference to a geographic area named and described in Schedule 1 or 2 to Ontario Regulation 180/03 (Division of Ontario into Geographic Areas) made under the Territorial Division Act, 2002.

4. The Regulation is amended by adding the following sections:

Common five-lined skink (Carolinian population) habitat
24.1.2
(1)  For the purpose of clause (a) of the definition of “habitat” in subsection 2 (1) of the Act, the areas described in subsection (2) that are located in the geographic areas of Chatham-Kent, Elgin, Essex, Haldimand, Halton, Lambton, Middlesex and Niagara are prescribed as the habitat of the common five-lined skink (Carolinian population).

(2) Subsection (1) applies to the following areas:

  1. A naturally occurring area that is being used, or was used at any time in the past three years, by a common five-lined skink (Carolinian population) as a nesting or hibernation site.
  2. The area within 30 metres of the area described in paragraph 1.
  3. An area other than a naturally occurring area being used by a common five-lined skink (Carolinian population) as a nesting site from the time it is used until the following August 31.
  4. An area other than a naturally occurring area being used by a common five-lined skink (Carolinian population) as a hibernation site from the time it is used until the following May 31.
  5. An area that is being used, or has been used at any time in the previous three years, by a common five-lined skink (Carolinian population) to carry on life processes other than nesting or hibernation.
  6. If an area described in paragraph 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 is located in an area belonging to a land classification described in subsection (3), the entire area so classified and any other contiguous areas, or areas connected by swamp or marsh, that also belong to a land classification described in subsection (3).
  7. An area within 50 metres of an area described in paragraph 3, 4 or 5 if that area provides suitable conditions for a common five-lined skink (Carolinian population) to carry on its life processes.

(3)  The following are the land classifications referred to in paragraph 6 of subsection (2):

  1. Any of the following community classes identified under the land classification system for southern Ontario:
    1. A beach/bar.
    2. A sand dune.
    3. A sand barren.
    4. A tallgrass prairie, savannah or woodland.
    5. A forest.
  2. A community series identified as cultural meadow under the land classification system for southern Ontario.

(4) In subsection (3),

“land classification system for southern Ontario” means the land classification system set out in the document entitled Ecological Land Classification for Southern Ontario: First Approximation and its Application, dated September, 1998 and published by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, as that document may be amended from time to time.

Commencement

5. This Regulation comes into force on the later of July 1, 2012 and the day it is filed.

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1The Five-lined Skink is called the Common Five-lined Skink when referring to provincial documents because it is officially known by this name in the Province of Ontario.
2Globally common, widespread and abundant.
3Critically imperiled in the jurisdiction because of extreme rarity or because of some factor(s) such as very steep declines making it especially vulnerable to extirpation from the jurisdiction.
4In the provincial recovery strategy (Seburn 2010), this population is referred to as the Southern Shield population.
5A wildlife species facing imminent extirpation or extinction.
6A species that lives in the wild in Ontario but is facing imminent extinction or extirpation.
7This number is based on the approximate global range of the species and the estimated extent of occurrence in Canada provided in the COSEWIC status report.
8Still in existence; not destroyed, lost or extinct.
9An element occurrence is an area of land and/or water in which a species or natural community (i.e. the element) is, or was, present. In the case of species elements, the element occurrence often corresponds with the habitat occupied by a local population. However, when it is appropriate, the element occurrence may be the habitat occupied by a portion of a population (e.g., long distance dispersers) or a group of nearby populations (e.g., metapopulation). Because they are defined on the basis of biological information, element occurrences may cross jurisdictional boundaries.
10Thermoregulation refers to the process whereby an organism is able to maintain its body temperature within certain limits even when external temperatures are very different.
11Phylogeography is defined as the study of historical processes that may have caused the current geographic distribution of a species.
12Map in Figure 1 above illustrates the North American distribution of all Five-lined Skink populations, including the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence population and the Carolinian population, the latter being located in the extreme southwestern portion of Ontario. The species has also been reported in South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota and Indiana (Conant and Collins 1998; COSEWIC 2007), but the exact distribution in those states is unknown.
13Extent of Occurrence: The area included in a polygon without concave angles that encompasses the geographic distribution of all known populations of a wildlife species.
14Area of Occupancy: The area within 'extent of occurrence' that is occupied by a taxon, excluding cases of vagrancy. The measure reflects the fact that the extent of occurrence may contain unsuitable or unoccupied habitats.
15Occurrence recently has been verified as still existing, but sufficient information on the factors used to estimate viability of the occurrence has not yet been obtained (Hammerson et al.2008).
16New observations for some historical or extirpated element occurrences have been submitted to, but not verified yet by the NHIC. Therefore, not all the data needed to identify critical habitat for all the populations is currently available to Environment Canada. Current critical habitat identified (Table 1) is based on best available information at this time; additional critical habitat may be identified in updates to the recovery strategy or in an action plan.
17An element occurrence for which there is documented destruction of its habitat or environment, or persuasive evidence of its eradication based on adequate surveys (i.e. thorough or repeated survey efforts by one or more experienced observers at times and under conditions appropriate for the element at that location).
18Effective population size is the number of individuals in a population who contribute offspring to the next generation. It is typically significantly lower than population census size.
19Element occurrences often correspond to local populations or sub-populations. Sub-population as used in Seburn 2010 is equivalent to the use of element occurrence this document.
20Desiccation is the process of moisture removal (i.e. , becoming dried up or dehydrated).
21Trees and shrubs may be present, but must be less than 25% coverage to be considered a meadow (Lee et al. 1998).

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Recovery Strategy for the Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) - Carolinian Population in Canada