Species Profile

Umatilla Dace

Scientific Name: Rhinichthys umatilla
Taxonomy Group: Fishes
Range: British Columbia
Last COSEWIC Assessment: April 2010
Last COSEWIC Designation: Threatened
SARA Status: Schedule 3, Special Concern - (SARA Schedule 1 provisions do not apply)


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Quick Links: | Photo | Description | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Umatilla Dace

Umatilla Dace Photo 1

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Description

This member of the carp family has a dark upper head and back, and mostly creamy flanks with some irregular dark spotting. Breeding males develop orange to red pelvic fins. The robust body reaches lengths of about 12 cm. The mouth is inferior, with the snout projecting beyond the upper lip, and the upper lip separated from the snout by a groove. The species is distinguished by a short, rounded barbel at each corner of the mouth.

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Distribution and Population

Populations of the Umatilla Dace in the Similkameen, Kettle, Columbia, Slocan and Kootenay river drainages represent the only known occurrences of the species in Canada. In the U.S., the species occurs throughout the Columbia drainage from the Bonneville Dam northward, and probably occurs in rivers of northern Oregon and in the Snake River in Idaho. Upstream populations in the northern U.S. and in Canada are isolated from downstream Similkameen, Okanagan and lower Columbia populations by impassable falls or other inappropriate habitat. Further upstream dispersal of the fish in the Similkameen River and its tributary the Tulameen may be limited by waterfalls and/or the colder water temperatures of higher mountain elevations. With the exception of 20 large (>40 mm) Umatilla Dace taken from Otter Creek, only 13 adults have been collected in British Columbia. Juveniles have been found in nearshore habitat in the lower Similkameen, Kettle, Kootenay and Columbia waters within B.C. No juveniles were found with the adults in Otter Creek, suggesting that reproduction is not successful there. Population trends are not available, but records indicate that the species has occurred in the Similkameen River drainage since at least 1963, and in Otter Creek since 1956.

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Habitat

The species prefers riverine habitat with cobble and stone cover, where the current is fast enough to prevent siltation. The fish are usually found along the river banks, at depths of less than 1 m. Both the Kootenay and Columbia rivers possess extensive stretches of large, rounded and polished stones where sediment is washed away by currents during spring floods. The spaces between the rocks provide shelter for large fish, and the dense covering of green algae on the rocks during the summer and fall provides a source of food. The fish appear to favour relatively productive low elevation waters, where food may be more abundant than in the colder, unproductive water of higher elevations. Suitable habitat appears to be widespread in the Columbia River downstream from the Keenleyside dam at Castlegar, B.C., but modification of river flow by the dam appears to be preventing the species from occupying this stretch of the river. In general, present and planned dams for hydro-electricity projects are converting riverine habitat to reservoir habitat downstream. The impact of these changes on Umatilla Dace populations needs to be assessed.

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Biology

Breeding probably occurs in late spring and in summer, if it is similar to closely related species. The young of the year are generally smaller than 40 mm in length. The life span and growth rates of adults have not been determined.

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Threats

The presumed preference of this species for cobble and stone habitat with sufficient current to remove silt, suggests that the fish are vulnerable to habitat changes which increase siltation. Siltation could result from dam construction or run off, changes from riverine to reservoir habitat, and pollution from industrial, agricultural or domestic activities. The impacts of competition from other benthic fish species and predation on the population size of the Umatilla Dace in Canada are not known.

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Protection

Federal Protection

Species that have been designated at risk by COSEWIC since the Species at Risk Act (SARA) was written must be added to Schedule 1 through a regulatory amendment. Information on this procedure is available in the Assessment section. If Umatilla Dace is added to Schedule 1, it will benefit from the protections afforded by SARA. More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.

Fish habitat provisions of the federal Fisheries Act provide general protection. Provincial regulations govern the collecting and transport of fishes within British Columbia, and provincial water quality pollution control regulations are designed to maintain water quality at acceptable levels.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.

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Documents

PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

4 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Umatilla Dace Rhinichthys umatilla in Canada (2010)

    The Umatilla Dace is a freshwater fish from the family Cyprinidae (“minnows”). Although its origin and evolutionary relations are incompletely known, the Umatilla Dace is recognized as a valid species and thought to have originated via historical hybridization between Speckled Dace and Leopard Dace. This conclusion is based on the intermediate appearance and ecology of Umatilla Dace relative to the two parent species, as well as preliminary molecular genetic evidence. It is a small minnow (< 100 mm fork length) with a body that is deepest near the dorsal fin and tapering towards the head and tail. The adult is usually heavily marked with dark and irregular markings on the sides and back. The species is of great scientific interest given its proposed hybrid origin.

COSEWIC Assessments

  • COSEWIC Assessment Summary and Status Report: Umatilla Dace Rhinichthys umatilla (2010)

    Assessment Summary – April 2010 Common name Umatilla Dace Scientific name Rhinichthys umatilla Status Threatened Reason for designation This small freshwater fish has a limited distribution in Canada encompassing habitats that have been extensively modified by widespread hydroelectric developments (change from riverine to reservoir habitats, altered flow regimes). It is likely that habitat will continue to be lost and degraded owing to hydroelectric operations, climate change, and increased water extraction. This species is also susceptible to aquatic invasive species that are widespread in the Columbia-Kootenay Rivers’ portion of the species’ range. Proposed additional hydroelectric and water storage development in the Similkameen River drainage is a potential major threat to habitat quality. Occurrence British Columbia Status history Designated Special Concern in April 1988. Status re-examined and designated Threatened in April 2010.

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Umatilla Dace (2010)

    This small freshwater fish has a limited distribution in Canada encompassing habitats that have been extensively modified by widespread hydroelectric developments (change from riverine to reservoir habitats, altered flow regimes). It is likely that habitat will continue to be lost and degraded owing to hydroelectric operations, climate change, and increased water extraction. This species is also susceptible to aquatic invasive species that are widespread in the Columbia-Kootenay Rivers’ portion of the species’ range.  Proposed additional hydroelectric and water storage development in the Similkameen River drainage is a potential major threat to habitat quality. 

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2010 (2010)

    Under Canada’s Species At Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to “assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species”. During the past year, COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings and reviewed the status of 79 wildlife species (species, subspecies, populations). During the meeting of November 2009, COSEWIC assessed or reviewed the classification of the status of 28 wildlife species. COSEWIC assessed or reviewed the classification of an additional 51 wildlife species (species, subspecies and populations) during their April 2010 meeting. For species already found on Schedule 1 of SARA, the classification of 32 species was reviewed by COSEWIC and the status of the wildlife species was confirmed to be in the same category (extirpated - no longer found in the wild in Canada but occurring elsewhere, endangered, threatened or of special concern). The wildlife species assessment results for the 2009-2010 reporting period include the following: Extirpated: 6 Endangered: 39 Threatened: 16 Special Concern: 17 Data Deficient: 1 This report transmits to the Minister the status of 46 species newly classified as extirpated, endangered, threatened or of special concern, fulfilling COSEWIC’s obligations under SARA Section 24 and 25. A full detailed summary of the assessment for each species and the reason for the designation can be found in Appendix I of the attached report. Since its inception, COSEWIC has assessed 602 wildlife species in various risk categories, including 262 Endangered, 151 Threatened, 166 Special Concern and 23 Extirpated. In addition, 13 wildlife species have been assessed as Extinct. Also, to date, 46 wildlife species have been identified by COSEWIC as Data Deficient and 166 wildlife species were assessed as Not at Risk. This year has been a particularly productive year for COSEWIC’s Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge (ATK) Subcommittee. In April 2010 COSEWIC approved the Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge Process and Protocol Guidelines, providing clear and agreed principles for the gathering of Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge to carry out COSEWIC functions as required under Section 15(2) of SARA (See Appendix III of the attached report). We are grateful for the rich and enthusiastic contribution made by community elders and experts in helping the ATK Subcommittee prepare the ATK protocols.