Skip booklet index and go to page content

Recovery Strategy for the Northern Madtom (Noturus stigmosus) in Canada

2. Recovery

The following goals, objectives and recovery approaches were adapted from the Essex-Erie Recovery Strategy (Essex-Erie Recovery Team (EERT) 2008) which covers a portion of the Canadian range of the Northern Madtom. Additional considerations were included from the Sydenham River Recovery Strategy (Dextrase et al. 2003) and Thames River Recovery Strategy (Thames River Recovery Team (TRRT) 2005).

2.1 Recovery feasibility

The recovery of the Northern Madtom is believed to be biologically and technically feasible. The following feasibility criteriaFootnote 1 have been met for the species:

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

    Yes. Reproducing populations are believed to exist within the Canadian range of the Northern Madtom (i.e., lower Lake St. Clair, the Detroit River, the Thames River and potentially the St. Clair River).

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

    Yes. Sufficient habitat is present at locations with extant populations. At locations with extirpated populations, suitable habitat may be made available through recovery actions.

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

    Yes. The impacts/effects of suspected threats, such as sediment and nutrient loading, can be mitigated through established restoration methods.

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

    Yes. Recovery techniques to reduce sediment and nutrient loading (e.g., stewardship, Best Management Practices [BMPs]) are well established and proven to be effective.

    Captive rearing and translocations have been used in the western and southeastern United States towards recovery of endangered fishes, including non-game benthic species (e.g., Andreasen and Springer 2000, Shute et al. 2005). Although there are no published studies on the husbandry of Northern Madtom, captive rearing and translocations of the closely related Smoky Madtom (N. baileyi) and Yellowfin Madtom (N. flavipinnis) have been successfully accomplished in Abrams Creek, Tennessee (Shute et al. 2005).

The Northern Madtom is a naturally rare component of the fish community throughout its range in Canada. The level of effort required for recovery of this species would likely be moderate for the Detroit River, Lake St. Clair, St. Clair River and Thames River given that these populations are currently believed to be reproducing. The level of effort required for recovery is unknown for the Sydenham River population given the uncertainty surrounding the population status.

2.2 Recovery goal

The long-term recovery goal (greater than 20 years) is to sustain and enhance the viability of existing populations of Northern Madtom in the Erie-Huron corridor, the Thames River (the reach of river from Littlejohn Rd. upstream to an area near Tate Corners) and the Sydenham River, if the species is still present in the system.

2.3 Population and distribution objective(s)

Population and distribution objectives for the Northern Madtom over the next five years are to maintain distributions of extant populations in Lake St. Clair, the Detroit River, the St. Clair River and the Thames River. Quantifiable objectives relating to individual populations are not currently possible; these will be developed once necessary surveys and studies have been completed. Knowledge gaps will be addressed by recovery actions given ‘urgent’ priority included in the recovery planning approaches.

2.4 Recovery objectives

In support of the long-term goal, the following short-term recovery objectives will be addressed over the next five to ten years:

  1. Refine population and distribution objectives;
  2. Ensure the protection of critical habitat;
  3. Determine long-term population and habitat trends;
  4. Evaluate and mitigate threats to the species and its habitat;
  5. Determine the feasibility of relocations and captive rearing;
  6. Ensure efficient use of resources (human and fiscal) during recovery planning efforts; and,
  7. Improve awareness of the Northern Madtom and engage the public in the conservation of the species.

2.5 Approaches recommended to meet recovery objectives

2.5.1 Recovery planning

The overall approaches recommended to meet the recovery objectives have been organized into three categories: 1. Research and Monitoring; 2. Management and Coordination; and, 3. Stewardship, Outreach and Awareness. Each category is summarized in a table detailing specific steps with a priority ranking (urgent, necessary, beneficial), a link to the recovery objectives, the broad approach, a description of the threat addressed, and suggested outcomes or deliverables to measure progress. A more detailed narrative is included after each table when further explanation of specific approaches is required. Implementation of the following approaches will be accomplished in coordination with relevant ecosystem-based recovery teams and other relevant organizations. Within the recovery planning approaches, higher priority will be given to urgent priorities for Research and Monitoring (Table 4), as these data will be used to inform the approaches in Tables table5 and table6. Refer to Tables table7 and table11 for suggested timelines on when urgent priorities may be completed. Note that these timelines are dependent on available resources over the next five years.

 

Table 4. Recovery planning table – research and monitoring (adapted from the Essex-Erie Recovery Strategy [EERT 2008])
PriorityObjective addressedBroad approach to address threatsThreats addressedSpecific stepsOutcomes or deliverables
(identify measurable targets
Urgenti1. Background surveysFootnote a – extant/historical occurrencesAllConduct targeted sampling in areas of occupied habitat as well as historically occupied habitat (e.g., Sydenham River). Use sampling techniques proven to detect Northern Madtom (e.g., night/day seining and trawling)Will determine presence/absence, health, range, abundance, and population demographics and contribute to the identification of critical habitat.
Urgenti2. Background surveysFootnote a – new occurrencesAllConduct targeted sampling in areas lacking Northern Madtom records but possessing potentially suitable habitat. Sampling should be done during both the day and night using sampling techniques proven to detect Northern Madtom.May detect new occurrences of Northern Madtom.
Urgenti, iii3. MonitoringFootnote b – populations and habitatAllEstablish sampling protocol for Northern Madtom, which will be informed by the results of background surveys. Establish and implement a standardized index population and habitat monitoring program using the sampling protocol for Northern Madtom.Will enable an assessment of changes in range, abundance, key demographic characters and changes in habitat features, extent and health.
Urgentii4. Research - habitat requirements (currently occupied habitat)AllDetermine the seasonal habitat needs, including home range and species movement, of all life-stages of the Northern Madtom.Will allow for the full identification of critical habitat for Northern Madtom. Will assist with the development of a habitat model.
Urgentiv5. Threat evaluation- exotic speciesExotic speciesInvestigate the impacts of Round Goby and Zebra Mussel on Northern Madtom. Studies to include impacts on Northern Madtom spawning success.Will identify the degree to which Round Goby and Zebra Mussel may impact Northern Madtom.
Urgentiv6. Threat evaluation – habitat loss; siltationPhysical habitat loss; siltationInvestigate the impacts of physical habitat changes on the Northern Madtom.Will identify the degree to which the Northern Madtom is affected by physical habitat alterations (e.g., dredging, sedimentation and shoreline hardening).
Necessaryiv7. Monitoring – Zebra MusselExotic speciesMonitor the spread of Zebra Mussel in watersheds occupied by the Northern Madtom.Will enable an assessment of the risk posed to Northern Madtom should Zebra Mussel spread and/or increase in number in occupied areas.
Necessaryv8. Genetic comparisonsAllExamine genetic relationships between populations as well as the amount of genetic variation within populations. Compare genetics of Canadian populations of Northern Madtom to populations in the U.S.Will help to distinguish populations.
Will contribute necessary information should population enhancement through relocations or captive rearing be required.
Necessaryiv9. Threat evaluation- contaminantsContaminantsInvestigate the impacts (lethal/sub-lethal) of pollutants in the Huron-Erie corridor, and nutrient loading in the Sydenham and Thames rivers, on Northern Madtom.Will enable an assessment of risks and the identification of contaminants of concern for Northern Madtom.
Necessaryv10. ResearchFootnote c – captive rearing and relocationsAllIf the need for population supplementation is determined, develop relocation and captive rearing techniques and incorporate into population-specific action plans as required. Conduct population genetics research prior to captive rearing and relocation (See Approach #8).Will help to determine the feasibility of relocations and/or captive rearing.

Footnotes

Footnote A

The Northern Madtom is known from only five general locations in watersheds throughout its Canadian range and fewer than 100 specimens have ever been captured in Canada. The Northern Madtom may be somewhat more widely distributed than currently known, as a result of its secretive behaviour, the relative lack of appropriate sampling (e.g., night seining, trawling and possibly minnow traps [Northern Madtom were caught in minnow traps by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) (2006) while monitoring a Lake Sturgeon spawning habitat rehabilitation project]) within its Canadian range, as well as possible errors in field identification (Holm and Mandrak 1998). Surveys are required in areas of current and historical occurrence to: confirm the spatial distribution of extant populations; confirm the loss of historical populations; identify potentially suitable habitat; and, to detect the presence of Round Goby and Zebra Mussel. It is recommended that the Sydenham and Thames rivers be sampled during periods of low flow (i.e., during the summer or early fall).

Return to footnote a

Footnote B

A monitoring program is required to provide an index of abundance and trend over time data, as well as to analyze habitat use and availability and changes in these parameters over time. Sampling methods will be informed through successful protocols developed during background surveys.

Return to footnote b

Footnote C

If the need for population supplementations is determined, source populations need to be identified. Ideally, source populations possess a high level of genetic diversity and genetic composition developed under similar historic conditions as the repatriation site. Any relocations that are considered will follow the Repatriation Approach outlined in the Essex-Erie Recovery Strategy (EERT 2008), should they be deemed necessary.

Return to footnote c

 

Table 5. Recovery planning table – management and coordination
PriorityObjective numberBroad approachThreat addressedSpecific stepsOutcomes or deliverables
(identify measurable targets)
Urgentvi1. Coordination with other recovery teams and relevant organizationsFootnote aAllWork with relevant organizations (e.g., United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Conservation Authorities, First Nations) and ecosystem- and single species recovery teams to share knowledge, implement recovery actions and to obtain incidental sightings.Will combine resources, ensure information dissemination, help to prioritize most urgent actions across the species’ range and allow for a coordinated approach to recovery.
Urgentvi, vii2. Municipal planning – involvementPhysical habitat lossEncourage municipalities to protect habitats that are important to the Northern Madtom in their Official Plans.Will assist with the recovery of the Northern Madtom and prevent further impairment of water quality of watersheds it inhabits.
Urgentii3. Habitat managementPhysical habitat lossEnsure planning and management agencies are aware of habitats that are important to Northern Madtom.Will result in the protection of important Northern Madtom habitat from industrial and development activities (e.g., dredging, marinas).
Necessaryvi, vii4. Evaluation of watershed-scale stressorsAllIn cooperation with relevant ecosystem-based recovery teams and organizations, evaluate watershed-scale stressors to populations and their habitats.Will identify multiple stressors that may affect Northern Madtom populations.
beneficialiv5. Exotic species management planExotic speciesDevelop a management plan addressing potential risks and proposed actions in response to existing exotic species and to the arrival or establishment of new exotic species.Will ensure a quick response should this threat more fully materialize.

Footnotes

Footnote A

Many of the threats facing the Northern Madtom are a result of habitat degradation that affects numerous aquatic species. Ecosystem-based recovery strategies, such as those for the Essex-Erie region and the Sydenham and Thames rivers, have incorporated the biological and ecological requirements of the Northern Madtom into relevant watershed-based recovery approaches as well as species specific approaches. A coordinated, cohesive approach between these teams and other relevant agencies (e.g., USGS/USFWS and First Nations) that maximizes opportunities to share resources, information and combine efficiencies is recommended.

Return to footnote a

 

Table 6. Recovery planning table – stewardship, outreach and awareness. Stewardship and habitat improvement actions should be directed geographically to address the most serious threats identified in waterbodies inhabited by the Northern Madtom (refer to Table 2 for threat information).
PriorityObjective numberBroad approachThreat addressedSpecific stepsOutcomes or deliverables
(identify measurable targets)
Urgentvi, vii1. Collaboration and information sharingFootnote aAllCollaborate with relevant groups, including Aboriginal groups, and recovery teams to address recovery actions of benefit to the Northern Madtom.Will combine efficiencies in addressing common recovery actions, and ensure information is disseminated in a timely cooperative fashion.
urgentvi, vii2. Stewardship and habitat initiativesFootnote a, Footnote bAllPromote stewardship among landowners abutting aquatic habitats of Northern Madtom, as well as other local residents and First Nations.Will raise community support and awareness of recovery initiatives. Will raise profile of Northern Madtom and improve awareness of opportunities to improve water quality and species habitat.
urgentiv, vi, vii3. Stewardship – implementation of BMPsFootnote a, Footnote cPhysical habitat loss; Siltation; Nutrient
loading; Toxic compounds
Work with landowners and other interest groups to implement BMPs in areas where they will provide the most benefit. Encourage the completion and implementation of Environmental Farm Management Plans (EFPs) and Nutrient Management Plans (NMPs).Will minimize threats from soil erosion, stream sedimentation, and nutrient and chemical contamination.
necessaryvii4.Communications strategyAllDevelop and implement strategy for communicating with target land users/stakeholders with respect to recovery activities as required.Will provide a strategic basis for improving public awareness of species at risk and promote ways in which community and public involvement can be most effectively solicited for the recovery of the species.
necessaryvii5. Stewardship – financial
assistance/
incentivesFootnote a
Physical habitat loss; Siltation; Nutrient loading; Toxic compoundsFacilitate access to funding sources for land owner and local community groups and First Nations engaged in stewardship activities.Will facilitate the implementation of recovery efforts, BMPs associated with water quality improvements, sediment load reduction, etc.
necessaryvii6. Awareness – addressing landowner concernsAllProvide clear communications addressing funding opportunities and landowner concerns and responsibilities under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) and the provincial Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA).Will address landowner concerns surrounding the Northern Madtom and facilitate public interest and involvement in stewardship initiatives.
beneficialiv, vii7. Exotic species/baitfish introductionsExotic speciesIncrease public awareness of the impacts of exotic species on the natural ecosystem and encourage the use of existing exotic species reporting systems. Anglers should be discouraged from emptying the contents of their bait-buckets in waterbodies where the bait was not captured.Will reduce the transport and release of exotics (including baitfish) and prevent their establishment in areas inhabited by the Northern Madtom that do not already have exotic species.

Footnotes

Footnote A

Approaches currently being implemented by one or more ecosystem-based recovery programs.

Return to footnote a

Footnote B

Basin-wide efforts are required to improve habitat quality at locations currently and historically occupied by Northern Madtom. This represents an important opportunity to engage land owners, local communities, Aboriginal groups and stewardship councils on the issues of Northern Madtom recovery, ecosystem and environmental health, clean water protection, nutrient management, BMPs, stewardship projects and associated financial incentive programs. Towards this end, the recovery team will work closely with relevant organizations as well as the three ecosystem-based recovery teams, all of which have established on-going stewardship programs that will benefit the species.

Return to footnote b

Footnote C

Implementation will be informed through proposed research on evaluating threat factors for the Northern Madtom. The implementation of BMPs will be largely facilitated through established stewardship programs. Additional stewardship programs will be directed as necessary to areas outside the boundaries of ecosystem-based programs. To be effective, BMPs should be targeted to address the primary threats affecting critical habitat. BMPs implemented will include those relating to: the establishment of riparian zones; soil conservation; herd management; septic improvements to prevent nutrient run-off; nutrient and manure management; and, tile drainage. Establishing riparian zones reduces nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorous) and sediment inputs to receiving waters and overland run-off. Restriction of livestock from watercourses leads to reductions in erosion and sediment and nutrient loadings. Nutrient and manure management will reduce nitrogen and phosphorous inputs into adjacent waterbodies, thereby improving water quality. Low-till practices can reduce soil erosion and improve soil structure while reducing the sediment loads of adjacent watercourses. Environmental Farm Plans prioritize BMP implementation at the level of individual farms and are often a pre-requisite for funding programs.

Return to footnote c


2.6 Performance measures

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, the recovery team will focus on completing recovery actions identified as “urgent” for the Northern Madtom. The recovery strategy will be reported on in five years to evaluate the progress made toward short-term and long-term targets, and the current goals and objectives 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 in Table 7.

 

Table 7. Performance measures for evaluating the achievement of recovery objectives
Recovery objectivePerformance measures
1. Refine population and distribution objectives.Completion of background surveys required to fully describe all extant populations by 2015.
2. Ensure the protection of critical habitat.Completion of activities outlined in the Schedule of Studies for the complete determination of critical habitat within the proposed timelines.
3. Determine long-term population and habitat trends.Population and habitat monitoring program established by 2014 (within regions currently identified as critical habitat).
4. Evaluate and mitigate threats to the species and its habitat.

Report results of research on the impacts/effects of competition by the Round Goby by 2014.

Report results of additional research that assists with the evaluation of impacts/effects of threats to the Northern Madtom by 2016.

Quantification of BMPs (e.g., number of NMPs or EFPs established) implemented to address threats by 2014.

5. Examine the feasibility of relocations and captive rearing.Report on the feasibility (and need) for relocations and captive rearing of the Northern Madtom.
6. Ensure efficient use of resources (human and fiscal) during recovery planning efforts.Collaboration with all ecosystem recovery teams and other stakeholders.
7. Improve awareness of the Northern Madtom and engage the public in the conservation of the species.Document any changes in public perceptions and support for identified recovery actions through guidance identified in the communications strategy (by 2015).


2.7 Critical habitat

2.7.1 General identification of the Northern Madtom’s critical habitat

The identification of critical habitat for Threatened and Endangered species (on Schedule 1) is a requirement of the 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 Northern Madtom, 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.


2.7.2 Information and methods used to identify critical habitat

Using the best available information, critical habitat has been identified using a ‘bounding box’ approach for populations in the Detroit River and the lower Thames River where the Northern Madtom presently occurs; additional areas of potential critical habitat within Lake St. Clair will be considered in collaboration with Walpole Island First Nation.

This approach requires the use of essential functions, features and attributes for each life-stage of the Northern Madtom 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 1.4.1 (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 (e.g., Aquatic Landscape Inventory System (ALIS)), it was used to identify critical habitat. Specific methods and data used (such as the use of ALIS) are summarized below.

Thames River

Recent sampling datasets used in the identification of critical habitat for the Northern Madtom for the Thames River are summarized in Table 3; although the species was not detected during targeted sampling by Fisheries and Oceans Canada" (DFO) in 2008, the species was captured incidentally during surveys conducted from 2003-2008. The most recent records for Northern Madtom in the Thames River resulted from sampling conducted by two graduate students studying the Eastern Sand Darter (See Table 3).

Within the Thames River, critical habitat was informed through the use of an ecological classification system (i.e., ALIS). The ALIS classification was developed by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (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. 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 Northern Madtom within the Thames River 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.

Detroit River

Recent sampling datasets (2003-2009) used in the identification of critical habitat for the Northern Madtom for the Detroit River are summarized in Table 3. To define the ‘bounding box’ for occupied locations at Peche Island and Fighting Island, a ‘population range envelope’ was used. The population range envelope is a projected rectangle around the occurrence points based on the minimum and maximum latitude and longitude values. In order to account for normal movements within a home range, the envelope was buffered by a distance of approximately 51.55 m. This buffer was determined using the radius of the home range of the Northern Madtom, which was calculated using a body size – waterbody size dependent method (Woolnough et al. 2009).

Population viability

Comparisons of the area of critical habitat identified for each population were made with estimates of the spatial requirements for a minimum sustainable population size. The minimum area for population viability (MAPV) for all life-stages of the Northern Madtom were estimated for both riverine (river) and lacustrine (lake) populations in Canada. 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 minimum viable population size (MVP) (Vélez-Espino et al. 2010). Therefore, 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. 2010). Using a target MVP of 2.7 million adults under a 10% probability of catastrophe per generation, the MAVP for a population of Northern Madtom was estimated to be about 60 ha and 315 ha in rivers and lakes, respectively (Matchett et al. in press).

MAPV values are somewhat conservative in that they represent the sum of habitat needs calculated for each life-history stage of the Northern Madtom; 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.


2.7.3 Identification of critical habitat: biophysical function, features and their attributes

There is limited information on the habitat needs for the various life stages of the Northern Madtom. Table 8 summarizes available knowledge on the essential functions, features and attributes for each life-stage (refer to section 1.4.1 Habitat and biological needs for full references). Areas identified as critical habitat must support one or more of these habitat functions.

 

Table 8. Essential functions, features and attributes of critical habitat for each life-stage of the Northern MadtomFootnote a
Life stageFunctionFeature(s)Attribute(s)
Spawn (mid to late July) to Embryonic (< 9 mm TL)Spawning
Cover
Nursery
Currently unknown physical elements within the identified reaches of the lower Thames and Detroit RiversFootnote b
  • Dense aquatic vegetation
  • In-water structure (e.g., large rocks, logs and debris such as bottles and cans for nest building)
  • Warm water temperatures (e.g., approximately 23 °C)
  • Clear to turbid waters
  • Shallow water depths (e.g., between 1.5 to 1.8 m in Detroit River/Lake St. Clair)
  • Sand and or cobble substrates
  • Noticeable current
Young of Year (>9 mm TL)Feeding
Cover
Nursery
Currently unknown physical elements within the identified reaches of the lower Thames and Detroit RiversFootnote b
  • Dense aquatic vegetation or in-water structure
  • Shallow water depths (e.g., <2 m)
  • Sand and/or fine gravel (e.g., 2 to 8 mm) substrates
  • Slow to moderate flow (e.g., 0.3 m/s)
Juvenile (age 1 until sexual maturity {2 yrs})Feeding
Cover
Currently unknown physical elements within the identified reaches of the lower Thames and Detroit RiversFootnote b
  • Habitat requirements for juvenile Northern Madtom are unknown but thought to be the same as adult habitat requirements
AdultFeeding
Cover
Currently unknown physical elements within the identified reaches of the lower Thames and Detroit RiversFootnote b
  • Clear to turbid waters (secchi depth may be < 0.2 m)
  • Moderate to swift current
  • Sand, gravel and rock substrate (occasionally with silt, detritus and accumulated debris)
  • Moderate water depths (up to 7 m)
  • Occasionally associates with macrophytes (e.g., stonewort species (Chara spp.))
  • Adequate supply of prey species (e.g. chironomids, mayflies, caddisflies, small fishes and crustaceans)

Footnotes

Footnote A

Where known or supported by existing data.

Return to footnote a

Footnote B

Subject to ongoing research – see schedule of studies.

Return to footnote b

Studies to further refine knowledge on the essential functions, features and attributes for various life-stages of the Northern Madtom are described in Section 2.7.5 (Schedule of studies to identify critical habitat).


2.7.4 Identification of critical habitat: geospatial

Using the best available information, critical habitat has been identified for Northern Madtom populations in the following areas:

  1. Lower Thames River
  2. Detroit River (Peche Island)
  3. Detroit River (Fighting Island)

Areas of critical habitat identified at these locations may overlap with critical habitat identified for other co-occurring species at risk (e.g., Eastern Sand Darter in lower Thames River); however, the specific habitat requirements within these areas may vary by species.

The areas delineated on the following maps (Figures figure4, figure5a and figure5b) represent the extent of critical habitat that can be identified 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 Table 8). Table 9 below provides the geographic coordinates that situate the boundaries within which critical habitat is found for the Northern Madtom at the three locations; these points are indicated on Figures figure4, figure5a and figure5b. Note that permanent anthropogenic features may be present within the delineated areas (e.g., marinas, navigation channels) are specifically excluded; it is understood that maintenance or replacement of these features may be required at times.

 

Table 9. CoordinatesFootnote a locating the boundaries within which critical habitat is found for the Northern Madtom at three locations
LocationPoint 1 (NW)Point 2 (NE)Point 3 (SE)Point 4 (SW)Point 5
Detroit River- Fighting Island42°14’51.312”N
83°07’01.354”W
42°14’51.016”N
83°06’40.530”W
42°14’33.188”N
83°06’40.372”W
42°14’32.795”N
83°07’01.651”W
 
Detroit River – Peche Island42°20’45.654”N
82°56’50.455”W
42°20’48.220”N
82°54’58.781”W
42°20’02.635”N
82°54’56.959”W
42°19’59.631”N
82°57’35.264”W
42°20’21.616”N
82°57’35.029”W
Thames RiverFootnote b42°45’11.263”N
81°31’55.522”W
42°31’27.452”N
82°01’35.081”W
   

Footnotes

Footnote A

All coordinates obtained using map datum North American Datum of 1983 (NAD 83).

Return to footnote a

Footnote B

Riverine habitats are delineated to the midpoint of channel of the uppermost stream segment and lowermost stream segment (i.e. 2 points only).

Return to footnote b

 

A brief explanation for the areas identified as critical habitat is provided for each of the 3 areas below.

Thames River

Critical habitat in the Thames River is currently identified for the Northern Madtom 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 (Figure 4). This critical habitat description includes the entire ‘bankfull’ channel, which plays an essential role in maintaining channel forming flows. This reach represents a stretch of river approximately 60 km long; Northern Madtom have been caught from Littlejohn Rd. upstream, to the vicinity of Tate Corners (Figure 4).

 


Figure 4. Critical habitat identified for the Northern Madtom within the Thames River

Critical habitat identified for the Northern Madtom within the Thames River (see long description below).

Description of Figure 4

Figure 4 is captioned “Critical habitat identified for the Northern Madtom within the Thames River”. The map shows squares identifying known data points on the Thames River. There is a red line along the Thames River from the Thamesville area upstream to the vicinity above Tate Corners.

 

Detroit River

Critical habitat for the Northern Madtom has been identified using a population range envelope at two locations in the Detroit River: Peche Island adjacent to the eastern portion of the Windsor waterfront (Figure 5a) and at the north-east corner of Fighting Island (Figure 5b); in these locations critical habitat includes the wetted area within the envelope.

 


Figure 5a. Critical habitat identified for the Northern Madtom within the Detroit River near Peche Island

Critical habitat identified for the Northern Madtom within the Detroit River near Peche Island (see long description below).

Description of Figure 5a

Figure 5a is captioned “Critical habitat identified for the Northern Madtom within the Detroit River near Peche Island”. The map shows squares identifying known data points on the upper portion of the Detroit River. There is an area of red indicating the extent of critical habitat between Peche Island and the main shore of the river near Windsor.

 


Figure 5b. Critical habitat identified for the Northern Madtom within the Detroit River near Fighting Island

Critical habitat identified for the Northern Madtom within the Detroit River near Fighting Island (see long description below).

Description of Figure 5b

Figure 5b is captioned “Critical habitat identified for the Northern Madtom within the Detroit River near Fighting Island”. The map shows squares identifying known data points within the middle reaches of the Detroit River. There is a square area of red indicating the extent of critical habitat off of the north east corner of Fighting Island.

 

The identification of critical habitat within the Thames and Detroit Rivers will ensure that currently occupied habitat is protected, until such time as critical habitat is further refined according to the schedule of studies laid out in Section 2.7.5. The schedule of studies outlines activities necessary to refine the current critical habitat descriptions at confirmed extant locations as well as address locations with limited information (e.g., Lake St. Clair and St. Clair River). Critical habitat descriptions will be refined as additional information becomes available to support the population and distribution objectives. Until critical habitat has been fully identified, the recovery team recommends that currently occupied habitat be recognized as habitat in need of conservation for the Northern Madtom.

2.7.4.1 Population viability

Comparisons were made with the extent of critical habitat identified for each population relative to the estimated minimum area for population viability (MAPV) (Table 9). It should be noted that for some populations, it is likely that only a portion of the habitat within that identified as the critical habitat extent would meet the functional habitat requirements of the species’ various life-stages. In addition, since 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. Future studies may help quantify the amount and quality of available habitat within critical habitats for all populations; 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 10 are preliminary and should be interpreted with caution.

 

Table 10. Comparison of the area within which critical habitat has been identified (ha) for each Northern Madtom population, relative to the estimated minimum area for population viability (MAPV)Footnote a
PopulationArea within which critical habitat has been identified (ha)Habitat typeMAPV
(ha)
MAPV achieved (Y/N)
Thames River320Riverine60Y
Detroit River – Peche Island210Riverine60Y
Detroit River – Fighting Island220Riverine60Y

Footnotes

Footnote A

The MAPV estimation is based on modeling approaches described above. For greater detail please refer to Matchett et al. (in press).

Return to footnote a

 


2.7.5 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 Northern Madtom to support the population and distribution objectives for the species. The activities listed in Table 11 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 11. Schedule of studies to identify critical habitat
Description of activityRationaleApproximate timeline
Conduct studies to determine the habitat requirements for each life-stage of the Northern Madtom.There is almost no published information on the habitat requirements of young of the year (YOY) Northern Madtom and the habitat requirements for juvenile Madtom are unknown. Determining habitat requirements for each life-stage will ensure that all types of critical habitat for this species will be identified and further clarify the identification of significant features.2012-2014
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 to identify critical habitat; monitor current sites for changes in population data that may result in changes to critical habitat identification; surveying adjacent habitat ensures accuracy of area of occurrence, on which critical habitat is being partly defined.2012-2015
Conduct additional Northern Madtom surveys to fill in distribution gaps, and to aid in determining population connectivity and home ranges/territories.Limited information is available for occurrences within Lake St. Clair and St. Clair River; additional data may support the identification of critical habitat within these areas required to meet the population and distribution objectives.2012-2015
Create a population-habitat supply model for each life-stage.Will aid in developing recovery targets and determining the amount of critical habitat required by each life-stage to meet these targets.2014-2016
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 population-habitat supply model and refine critical habitat descriptions as necessary.Once the information above is gathered, recovery targets should be reviewed to ensure that they are still achievable and logical. Determining the amount and configuration of critical habitat based on recovery targets will be required for the Action Plan.2014-2016

 


2.7.6 Examples of activities likely to result in the destruction of critical habitat

Given that the Northern Madtom appears to tolerate a wide range of habitat conditions, it is difficult to describe with certainty those activities that are likely to result in the destruction of critical habitat. Without appropriate mitigation, direct destruction of habitat may result from work or activities such as those identified in Table 12.

The activities described in this table are neither exhaustive nor exclusive and have been guided by the general threats described in Section 1.5 of the recovery strategy for the species. 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, 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.

Under SARA, critical habitat must be legally protected from destruction once it is identified. This will be accomplished through a SARA order, which will prohibit the destruction of the identified critical habitat unless permitted by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada pursuant to the conditions of SARA.

 

Table 12. Human activities likely to result in the destruction of critical habitat for Northern Madtom. The pathway of effect 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

Physical habitat loss:

Dredging

Grading

Excavation

Structure removals (e.g., log salvage, moving of rocks in navigational channels, etc.)

Placement of material or structures in water (e.g., groynes, piers, infilling, partial infills, jetties, etc.)

Shoreline hardening

Changes in bathymetry, shoreline and channel morphology caused by dredging and near-shore grading and excavation can alter preferred substrates, change water depths, change flow patterns potentially affecting turbidity, nutrient levels and water temperatures.

Removal of in-water structure resulting from in-water activities such as dredging or infilling, can remove in-water structure used for nest building and can affect feeding success and spawning.

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, aquatic vegetation and underwater structure.

Hardening of shorelines can reduce organic inputs into the water and alter water temperatures and flows potentially affecting the availability of habitat and/or prey for this species.

Spawning
Nursery
Cover
Feeding
Currently unknown physical elements within the identified reaches of the lower Thames and Detroit Rivers
  • In-water structure or debris
  • Warm water temperatures
  • Clear to turbid waters
  • Shallow to moderate water depths
  • Sand, gravel, cobble and rock substrates
  • Dense aquatic vegetation
  • Little to moderate or moderate to swift current
  • Adequate supply of prey

Physical habitat loss or modification:

Construction of dams and/or barriers

Water-level management or water extraction activities

Dams/barriers can result in direct loss of habitat or fragmentation.
Altered flow patterns can affect habitat availability (e.g. by ‘dewatering’ habitats) in creeks and rivers, sediment deposition (e.g., changing preferred substrates), water temperatures, aquatic plant growth and prey abundance.
Spawning
Nursery
Cover
Feeding
Currently unknown physical elements within the identified reaches of the lower Thames and Detroit Rivers
  • Warm water temperatures
  • Clear to turbid waters
  • Sand, gravel, cobble and rock substrates
  • Dense aquatic vegetation
  • Little to moderate or moderate to swift current
  • Adequate supply of prey

Toxic compounds:

Over application or misuse of herbicides and pesticides

Release of urban and industrial pollution into habitat

Introduction of toxic compounds into habitat used by this species can change water chemistry affecting habitat availability or use, prey availability and affect aquatic plant growth affecting spawning and recruitment success.Spawning
Nursery
Cover
Feeding
Currently unknown physical elements within the identified reaches of the lower Thames and Detroit Rivers
  • Dense aquatic vegetation
  • Clear to turbid waters
  • Adequate supply 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 turbidity affecting aquatic plant growth and causing harmful algal blooms potentially affecting aquatic plant growth and changing water temperatures. The availability of prey species can also be affected if prey are sensitive to organic pollution or reduced dissolved oxygen levels.Spawning
Nursery
Cover
Feeding
Currently unknown physical elements within the identified reaches of the lower Thames and Detroit Rivers
  • Warm water temperatures
  • Clear to turbid waters
  • Dense aquatic vegetation
  • Adequate supply of prey

Siltation and turbidity:

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, etc.); removal of riparian zones

Unfettered livestock access to waterbodies

Improper sediment and erosion control or mitigation can cause increased turbidity and sediment deposition, changing preferred substrates, lowering primary productivity, potentially reducing feeding success or prey availability, impacting the availability of small cavities for nesting and growth of aquatic vegetation, and possibly excluding fish from habitat due to physiological impacts of sediment in the water (e.g., gill irritation).

When livestock have unfettered access to waterbodies damage to shorelines, banks and watercourse bottoms can cause increased erosion and sedimentation, affecting turbidity and water temperatures.

Spawning
Nursery
Cover
Feeding
Currently unknown physical elements within the identified reaches of the lower Thames and Detroit Rivers
  • In-water structure or debris
  • Warm water temperatures
  • Clear to turbid waters
  • Sand, gravel, cobble and rock substrates
  • Dense aquatic vegetation
  • Adequate supply of prey

In future, threshold values for some stressors may be informed through further research. For some of the above activities, BMPs may be enough to mitigate threats to the species and its habitat; however, in some cases, it’s not known if BMPs are adequate to protect critical habitat and further research is required.

2.8 Existing and recommended approaches to habitat protection

Northern Madtom habitat receives general protection from works or undertakings under the habitat provisions of the federal Fisheries Act. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) considers the impacts of projects on all listed wildlife species and their critical habitat. During the CEAA review of a project, all adverse effects of the project on a listed species and its critical habitat must be identified. If the project is carried out, measures must be taken that are consistent with applicable recovery strategies or action plans to avoid or lessen those effects and to monitor those effects. Once identified, SARA includes provisions to prevent the destruction of critical habitat.

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. The Ontario Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act prohibits the impoundment or diversion of a watercourse if siltation will result. Stream-side development in Ontario is managed through floodplain regulations enforced by local conservation authorities. Habitat may also be protected under the Public Lands Act, where a permit may be required for work in the water and along the shore. The Northern Madtom is listed as an Endangered species under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act, 2007. Under the Act, the species itself is currently protected and the habitat of the Northern Madtom will be protected under the general habitat protection provisions of the Act as of June 30, 2013 unless a species-specific habitat regulation is developed by the provincial government at an earlier date.

2.9 Effects on other species

The proposed recovery actions within will benefit other native species, as they will address threats (e.g., water quality issues, pollution, habitat loss) that affect various aquatic species. Many of the stewardship and habitat improvement activities to benefit Northern Madtom will be implemented through existing ecosystem-based recovery programs that have already taken into account the needs of other species at risk.

2.10 Recommended approach for recovery implementation

The recovery team recommends a dual approach to recovery implementation which combines an ecosystem-based approach complemented by a single-species approach. The team will accomplish this by working closely with existing ecosystem-based recovery teams and other relevant organizations to combine efficiencies and share knowledge on recovery initiatives. There are four ecosystem-based recovery strategies (Essex-Erie region, Sydenham River, Thames River and Walpole Island) that address populations of Northern Madtom and are currently being implemented. These strategies incorporate the known biological and ecological requirements of Northern Madtom, address the local threats it currently faces, or could face if repatriated to historic locations, and present prioritized approaches for the species’ recovery within these systems. Ecosystem strategies simultaneously employ basin-wide recovery approaches to reduce identified threats to multiple aquatic species at risk including the Northern Madtom. Populations of Northern Madtom also occur outside the boundaries of existing ecosystem-based recovery programs (i.e., Lake St. Clair, St. Clair River). As such, a single-species approach to recovery will facilitate implementation of recovery actions within these watersheds through partnerships with local watershed management and stewardship agencies. If an ecosystem-based recovery strategy is developed in the future for Lake St. Clair and/or the St. Clair River, the present single-species strategy will provide a strong foundation to build on.

2.11 Statement on action plans

Recovery action plans are documents that describe the implementation of recovery strategies. Using recommendations from the recovery strategy, action plans provide details with respect to who needs to be involved, and to what extent, in carrying out 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 public registry. These may include multi-species or ecosystem based action plans.

Footnotes

Footnote 1

Draft Policy on the Feasibility of Recovery, Species at Risk Act Policy. January 2005.

Return to footnote 1