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Recovery strategy for the Pugnose Shiner (Notropis anogenus) in Canada

2. Recovery

The following goals, objectives and recovery approaches were adapted from the Essex-Erie Recovery Strategy (EERT 2008), which covers a substantial portion of the Canadian range of the Pugnose Shiner. Additional considerations were included from the Ausable River Recovery Strategy (ARRT 2006).

2.1 Recovery feasibility

The recovery of Pugnose Shiner is believed to be biologically and technically feasible. The following feasibility criteriaFootnote 3 (Environment Canada 2005) have been met for the species:

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

    Yes. Reproducing populations currently exist in the Old Ausable Channel, Long Point Bay (Lake Erie), Lake St. Clair, and the St. Lawrence River that could provide a basis for natural expansions and potential translocations or artificial propagation if necessary.

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

    Yes. Suitable habitat is present at several locations where extant populations exist, particularly the Old Ausable Channel, the area around Walpole Island (Lake St. Clair), Prince Edward County inland bays, and the St. Lawrence River (area near the Grenadier Island Wetland Complex). Improved water quality and habitat management (through stewardship and Best Management Practices) could restore suitable habitat in locations where populations have been extirpated or ae in decline.

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

    Yes. Threats believed to pose a serious risk to Pugnose Shiner, such as siltation/turbidity and the removal of aquatic vegetation, can be addressed through recovery actions. Identifying and remediating the sources of nutrients and suspended sediments affecting the health of occupied coastal wetlands will be critical to ensuring these habitats can continue to support Pugnose Shiner (EERT 2008).

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

    Yes. Techniques to reduce identified threats (e.g., Best Management Practices (BMPs)) and restore habitats are well-known and have proven to be effective. Repatriations may be feasible through captive rearing or adult transfers. Although there are no published studies on captive rearing for Pugnose Shiner, these techniques have been successful for other freshwater cyprinids (e.g., DeMarais and Minckley 1993). Bryan et al. (2002) found that, although native predators influenced the behaviour of the Little Colorado Spinedace (Lepidomeda vittata) (a federally Threatened cyprinid in the U.S.), the presence of non-native predators had a greater impact on the species, and they recommended the control or elimination of non-native predators from the minnow’s established critical habitat or potential repatriation sites.

    Removal of vegetation and site disturbance have been cited as the best documented causes for invasion of plant species, but general strategies and goals for wetland restoration can be derived at the ecoregion scale using information on current and historic wetland extent and type distributions (Detenbeck et al.1999).

2.2 Recovery goal

The long-term (> 20 years) recovery goal for the Pugnose Shiner is to maintain self-sustaining population(s) at existing locations and restore self-sustaining population(s) to historic locations, where feasible.

2.3 Population and distribution objective(s)

Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) assessed the Pugnose Shiner as Endangered in 2002, in part, because of its limited distribution. At the time of the report’s publication, Pugnose Shiner was considered extant at four locations in Canada and extirpated from two (Holm and Mandrak 2002). Since the publication of the COSEWIC report, eight new Pugnose Shiner locations have been confirmed extant and another location has been confirmed extirpated. Currently, the total number of confirmed Pugnose Shiner locations, both extant and extirpated, is 15.

An important factor to consider when determining population and distribution objectives is the number of populations that may be at a given location, as it is possible that a location may contain more than one discrete population. In this context, location does not refer to the locality of the discrete population, but rather a geographically or ecologically distinct area in which a single threatening event can rapidly affect all individuals of this species present (COSEWIC 2010).

To recover the species to a level lower than Threatened under COSEWIC criteria, a minimum of 11 extant locations with at least one self-sustaining population are required. Where present, multiple populations at a single location should be maintained. Currently, the number of populations present at each Pugnose Shiner location in Canada is unknown and further research is required to investigate this.

The population and distribution objective for the Pugnose Shiner is to ensure the persistence of self-sustaining population(s) at the 12 extant locations (Teeswater River, Old Ausable Channel, Mouth Lake, Lake St. Clair and tributaries, St. Clair National Wildlife Area (NWA), Canard River, Long Point Bay/Big Creek, Wellers Bay, West Lake, East Lake, Waupoos Bay and the St. Lawrence River (between Eastview and Mallorytown Landing, including the St. Lawrence Islands National Park) and restore self-sustaining population(s) in Rondeau Bay, Point Pelee National Park, and the Gananoque River, where feasible.

Recent modelling conducted by Venturelli et al. (2010) estimated that the minimum viable population size (MVP) for Pugnose Shiner is 14 325 adults, given a 10% chance of a catastrophic event occurring per generation. However, the implementation of such a target is difficult without also having information on population(s) size, trends, and spatial distribution, as well as habitat quality. This information is mostly lacking for the majority of Pugnose Shiner locations in Canada. Further research is required to validate the model results. More quantifiable objectives relating to MVP can be developed and the recovery goal refined if abundance information is obtained.

2.4 Recovery objectives

In support of the long-term goal, the following short-term recovery objectives will be addressed over the next 5 -10 years:

  1. Refine population and distribution objectives.
  2. Refine and protect critical habitat.
  3. Determine long-term population and habitat trends.
  4. Evaluate and minimize threats to the species and its habitat.
  5. Investigate the feasibility of population supplementation or repatriation for populations that may be extirpated or reduced.
  6. Enhance efficiency of recovery efforts through coordination with aquatic and terrestrial ecosystem recovery teams and other relevant or complementary groups/initiatives.
  7. Improve overall awareness of the Pugnose Shiner and the role of healthy aquatic ecosystems, and their importance to humans.

2.5 Approaches recommended to meet recovery objectives

2.5.1 Recovery planning

There are three broad approaches, outlined in Tables 5 - 7, that are recommended to meet recovery objectives: Research and Monitoring (Table 5); Management and Coordination (Table 6); and, Stewardship, Outreach and Awareness (Table 7). The tables include a priority rank (urgent, necessary, beneficial), a reference to the recovery objectives to be addressed (listed above), a list of the broad approaches to address threats, a description of the threat addressed, specific steps to be taken, and suggested outcomes or deliverables to measure progress. A narrative is included after each table when further explanation is required with respect to a specific approach.

Implementation of the following approaches will be accomplished in coordination with relevant ecosystem-based recovery teams already in place (as described in section 1.6) and associated implementation groups. Higher priority will be given to urgent priorities for Research and Monitoring (Table 5), as these data will be used to inform the approaches in Tables 6 and Table7.

Table 5. Recovery planning table – research and monitoring
PriorityObjective addressedBroad approach to address threatsThreats addressedSpecific stepsOutcomes or deliverables (identify measurable targets)
Urgenti, ii1-1. Background surveys and monitoring – extant locationsAllConduct targeted surveys in areas where Pugnose Shiner is known to persist: un-sampled regions of the Old Ausable Channel, Long Point Bay, St. Lawrence River, Lake St. Clair, and Canard River.Will determine health, range, abundance, and population demographics and assist with refining critical habitat descriptions.
Urgenti, ii1-2. Background surveys and monitoring – new and suspected locationsAllConduct targeted surveys at new (where the species has only recently been discovered) and suspected locations: interior marshes of Turkey Point (Long Point Bay), Teeswater River (Saugeen watershed), Wellers Bay, West Lake, East Lake, Waupoos Bay, Big Creek (Haldimand – Norfolk County), south shore of Lake St. Clair, Lake St. Clair tributaries and oxbow lakes near the Old Ausable Channel.Will determine presence/absence of the species at these locations.
Urgenti, ii1-3. Background surveys and monitoring – historical locationsAllConduct targeted surveys at historic locations: Point Pelee National Park, Rondeau Bay and the Gananoque River.Will determine presence/absence of the species at these locations.
Urgenti, ii, iii1-4. Monitoring – populations and habitatAllDevelop and implement standardized index population and habitat monitoring program with specific sampling and training protocol.Will enable an assessment of changes in range, abundance, key demographic characters and changes in habitat features, extent and quality. Will assist with the development of a habitat model.
Urgentii, iii1-5. Research -habitat requirementsHabitat modifications; aquatic vegetation removal; sediment loading; nutrient loadingDetermine seasonal habitat needs of all life stages of the Pugnose Shiner.Will assist with refining critical habitat descriptions for Pugnose Shiner. Will assist with the development of a habitat assessment model.
Urgentii, iv, v1-6. Research – water quality parametersHabitat modifications; aquatic vegetation removal; sediment loading; nutrient loadingDetermine the physiological tolerance thresholds of the Pugnose Shiner with respect to various water quality parameters (e.g., dissolved oxygen, nutrients) and check against existing standards.Will determine whether current provincial and/or federal water quality guidelines are sufficient to protect Pugnose Shiner.
Urgentiv1-7. Research - wastewater treatment plants, storm-water management facilities and septic systemsSediment loading; nutrient loadingIdentify potential areas of operation that might be contributing to siltation and nutrient loading downstream. Suggest improvements that may aid in reducing nutrient and suspended solid inputs from urban areas.Will determine what impact, if any, wastewater and/or storm-water effluent has on Pugnose Shiner. Will assist with the recovery of Pugnose Shiner and the amelioration of water quality in the watersheds where it is found.
Urgentiv1-8. Threat evaluation changes in habitat conditionsAllCompare habitats of extant populations with formerly occupied sites (e.g., Point Pelee National Park, Rondeau Bay). Investigate and evaluate the significance of threat factors that may be impacting extant populations. Take steps to mitigate immediate threats identified.Will clarify which threats exist and help identify suitable habitat for repatriations. Will help evaluate the severity of specific threats to individual populations and alleviate their impacts. May assist with refining critical habitat descriptions for Pugnose Shiner.
Necessaryiv1-9. Threat evaluation - changes in trophic dynamics; exotic speciesChanges in trophic dynamics; exotic speciesUse population and time comparisons of fish community data to resolve uncertainty about negative effects of centrarchids on cyprinids, generally, and Pugnose Shiner, specifically. Evaluate the impacts of exotic species (including Common Carp and Eurasian watermilfoil) on the Pugnose Shiner and its habitat.Will determine what effects, if any, centrarchids have on the Pugnose Shiner (particularly in the Old Ausable Channel). Will help evaluate the severity of the threat posed by exotic species in preferred wetland habitats.
Necessaryiv1-10. Water quality monitoringSediment loading; nutrient loadingMeasure sediment and nutrient loads emitted from streams.Will determine priority areas for restoration/stewardship.
Necessaryv1-11. Population augmentation (research)AllExamine the feasibility of translocations and repatriations in areas of suitable habitat where the species has been extirpated. Develop a repatriation plan where appropriate. (see section 2.1 for further detail)Will determine if small populations can be augmented or if the species can be repatriated in historical locations.
Beneficialiv1-12. Monitoring – exotic speciesExotic speciesMonitor watersheds for exotic species of concern in cooperation with aquatic ecosystem recovery teams.Will monitor the progress/establishment of exotic species and provide early opportunities to mitigate potential threats.
Background surveys and monitoring (1-1, 1-2, and 1-3)

Background surveys are required to confirm the full extent of the range of this species and its habitat in the four main locations where it is known to persist. Targeted surveys should be conducted at historic as well as new and suspected locations to verify recent records. Sampling methods should be standardized and include a relevant assessment of habitat characteristics, and should employ techniques proven effective at detecting Pugnose Shiner (e.g., beach seining) (ARRT 2006) (see Portt et al.2008 for effective species-specific sampling methods). These surveys will also help in determining what the precise habitat requirements are for this species to persist.

Monitoring – populations and habitat (1-4)

A long-term monitoring program should allow for quantitative tracking of changes in population abundance and demographics; analyses of habitat use and availability and changes in these parameters over time; and, the ability to detect the presence of exotic species such as Common Carp. Monitoring protocols should take into account the sampling methods used in the background survey work and provide guidance on the time of sampling and the types of biological samples that should be collected (e.g., scales, fin rays, length, weight).

Population augmentation (1-11)

Repatriation efforts to re-establish viable populations of Pugnose Shiner need to consider the following:

  1. Prior to developing repatriation plans, it is necessary to conduct intensive sampling and confirm that they are no longer present.
  2. The success of repatriations will depend on an understanding of the species’ habitat needs and on a sufficient quantity of suitable habitat being available at the repatriation site. Surveys need to be undertaken to characterize current habitat conditions and identify appropriate actions to improve degraded habitats. If habitat requirements are poorly understood, then studies of habitat use will need to be undertaken.
  3. Repatriations should not be considered until the factors for extirpation are understood and addressed.
  4. Source populations to support repatriations 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. Where possible, source populations within the same watershed are preferred.
  5. Removal of individuals from source populations should not negatively affect the status of these populations.
  6. The preferred method of repatriation (e.g., adult transfer versus captive-reared) needs to be determined. If captive-rearing is the preferred option, propagation and rearing methods and an appropriate rearing facility will need to be identified.
  7. To successfully establish self-sustaining populations and preserve the genetic composition, the number of individuals to be repatriated, appropriate life stages, and the frequency and duration of supplemental stockings needs to be determined.
  8. Monitoring is required to ensure that newly established populations are viable, that the stocking rate is appropriate, and habitat conditions remain suitable.
  9. All proposed repatriations associated with this strategy will involve the preparation of a repatriation plan that will address the logistic and ecological aspects discussed above, as well as stakeholder issues.

Repatriations should follow the American Fisheries Society Guidelines for Introductions of Threatened and Endangered Fishes (Williams et al. 1988) and the National Code on Introductions and Transfers of Aquatic Organisms (Fisheries and Oceans, 2003).

Table 6. Recovery planning table – management and coordination
PriorityObjective addressedBroad approach to address threatsThreats addressedSpecific stepsOutcomes or deliverables (identify measurable targets)
Urgentvi2-1. Coordination with other recovery teams and relevant groupsAllWork with existing relevant ecosystem recovery teams, First Nations and groups to share knowledge, implement recovery action plans and to obtain incidental sightings.Will combine knowledge, resources, ensure information dissemination, help prioritize most urgent actions and allow for a coordinated recovery approach. Will ensure efficient use of resources (human, fiscal, equipment).
Urgentiv, vii2-2. Municipal planning – involvementHabitat modifications; sediment loading; nutrient loading; aquatic vegetation removalEncourage municipal planning authorities and local First Nations to consider the recovery goal and associated objectives in Official Plans and the determination of land use designations. Support that future development does not degrade habitat of the Pugnose Shiner. Suggest improvements that may aid in reducing nutrient and suspended solid inputs from urban areas.Will assist with the recovery of the Pugnose Shiner and the amelioration of water quality in the watersheds where it is found.
Urgentiv, vi2-3. Evaluation of watershed-scale stressorsAllAddress watershed-scale stressors to Pugnose Shiner populations and their habitat in cooperation with existing relevant aquatic ecosystem recovery teams.Will evaluate multiple stressors that may be affecting Pugnose Shiner populations.
Beneficialiv2-4. Exotic species planExotic speciesDevelop a plan that addresses potential risks, impacts, and proposed actions in response to existing exotic species and the arrival or establishment of new exotics.Will ensure timely response should this threat more fully materialize. Will assist with addressing key threats to populations.
Beneficialiv2-5. Prohibitions - baitfishesExotic speciesEvaluate the feasibility of prohibitions on the use of live baitfishes.Will help to prevent the establishment of exotics new locations.
Coordination with other recovery teams and relevant groups (2-1)

Many of the threats facing the Pugnose Shiner are related to habitat loss and degradation that affects many aquatic and wetland-dependent species. Ecosystem-based recovery strategies, such as those for the Ausable River and the Essex-Erie region, have incorporated the requirements of Pugnose Shiner in their basin-wide strategies. As well as species-specific considerations, these ecosystem-based recovery strategies employ basin-wide strategies to improve environmental conditions such as water quality, benefiting Pugnose Shiner and other species. A coordinated, cohesive approach between relevant groups, the Ontario Freshwater Fish Recovery Team (OFFRT), First Nations and ecosystem-based recovery teams that maximizes opportunities to share resources, information and combine efficiencies, is recommended.

Municipal planning – involvement (2-2)

Two major threats affecting the Pugnose Shiner are habitat modifications and poor water quality (i.e., sediment loading, nutrient loading), which can seriously impact its recovery potential. This approach allows planning and management agencies to be aware of habitats that are important to Pugnose Shiner. Communicating and coordinating with municipal planning boards and First Nations will increase the likelihood that further negative impacts on preferred habitat are avoided.

Stewardship and habitat improvement actions (Table 7) should be directed geographically to address the most serious threats identified in waterbodies inhabited by Pugnose Shiner (refer to Table 3 for threat information).

Table 7. Recovery planning table – stewardship, outreach and awareness
PriorityObjective addressedBroad approach to address threatsThreats addressedSpecific stepsOutcomes or deliverables (identify measurable targets)
Urgentiv, vi, vii3-1. Stewardship - promotion of habitat initiativesTable noteaHabitat modifications; sediment loading; nutrient loading; aquatic vegetation removalPromote stewardship among landowners and First Nations abutting aquatic habitats of Pugnose Shiner, and other local landowners with potential to have direct or indirect effects on the habitat of Pugnose Shiner.Will raise community support and awareness of recovery initiatives. Will raise profile of the Pugnose Shiner and increase awareness of opportunities to improve water quality and species habitat
Urgentvi, vii3-2. Collaboration and information sharingTable noteaAllCollaborate with relevant groups, First Nations, initiatives and recovery teams to address recovery actions to benefit Pugnose Shiner.Will combine efficiencies in addressing common recovery actions, and ensure information is shared in a timely, cooperative fashion.
Urgentiv, vi, vii3-3. Stewardship – implementation of BMPsTable noteaHabitat modifications; sediment loading; nutrient loading; aquatic vegetation removalWork with landowners, First Nations and relevant interest groups to implement BMPs in areas where they will provide the most benefit. Encourage the completion and implementation of Environmental Farm Management Plans (EMPs) and Nutrient Management Plans (NMPs).Will minimize threats from soil erosion, sedimentation, and nutrient contamination.
Necessaryvii3-4. Communication strategyAllDevelop and implement a communications strategy that identifies partners, target audiences, approaches, information products, and educational and outreach opportunities, that will assist with the recovery of the species.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.
Necessaryvii3-5. Stewardship – Financial Assistance/ IncentivesTable noteaAllFacilitate access to federal and provincial funding sources for landowner and local community groups engaged in stewardship activities.Will facilitate the implementation of recovery efforts, BMPs associated with water quality improvements, sediment load reduction etc.
Necessaryvii3-6. Awareness – addressing landowner concernsTable noteaAllProvide clear communications addressing funding opportunities as well as landowner concerns for their responsibilities under the Species at Risk Act(SARA).Will address landowner concerns surrounding the implications of having Pugnose Shiner on or near their property and facilitate public interest and involvement in stewardship initiatives.
Beneficialiv, vii3-7. Awareness – incidental harvestIncidental harvest - baitfishProvide a Pugnose Shiner information package to bait harvesters. Request avoidance of occupied habitats, and the release and reporting of Pugnose Shiner captured.Will help to prevent Pugnose Shiner being incidentally harvested as baitfish and will build upon monitoring efforts of this species.
Beneficialiv, vii3-8. Awareness – exotic species/baitfish introductionsExotic speciesIncrease public awareness about potential impacts of exotic species on the ecosystem, including Pugnose Shiner. Discourage the emptying of bait buckets.Will help to prevent the introduction of new exotic species in areas occupied by Pugnose Shiner.

Table notes

Table note a

Approaches currently being implemented by one or more ecosystem-based recovery programs (see Section 1.6).

Return to first Table noteareferrer

Stewardship and habitat initiatives (3-1)

Large-scale efforts to improve habitat quality are required in watersheds inhabited by Pugnose Shiner. This represents an opportunity to engage landowners, local communities, First Nations and stewardship councils on the issues of Pugnose Shiner recovery, environmental and ecosystem health, clean water protection, nutrient management, BMPs, stewardship projects and related financial incentives. To this end, the ecosystem recovery teams for the Ausable River and Essex-Erie region have already established ongoing stewardship programs and activities (implemented by multiple agencies) that will benefit Pugnose Shiner.

Stewardship – implementation of BMPs (3-3)

The implementation of BMPs will be largely facilitated through established stewardship programs. Additional stewardship activities will be coordinated with existing agencies in 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 buffers, soil conservation, septic improvements to prevent nutrient run-off, herd management, nutrient and manure management, and tile drainage. Environmental Farm Plans prioritize BMP implementation at the level of individual farms and are often a prerequisite for funding programs. For more information on BMPs see Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Best Management Practices Series.

2.6 Performance measures

The success of the recommended recovery approach implementation will be evaluated primarily through routine population (abundance and distribution) and habitat (quality and quantity) surveys and monitoring. Quantifiable targets will be established for Pugnose Shiner over the next five years. The recovery strategy will be reviewed in five years to evaluate progress made towards short-term and long-term targets. Current goals and objectives will be reviewed within an adaptive management framework (i.e., new information will inform management decisions in an iterative process) with input from relevant ecosystem recovery teams. Measurable performance indicators have been identified in Table 8 for urgent approaches covering each recovery objective.

Table 8. Recovery objectives and relevant performance measures
Recovery objectivePerformance measure
i. Refine population and distribution objectives
  • Population monitoring protocol finalized.
  • Surveys of all extant, historical, and new and suspected locations completed.
  • Monitoring of at least two populations undertaken.
ii. Refine and protect critical habitat.
  • Completion of activities outlined in the Schedule of Studies (section 2.7.5) for the complete determination of critical habitat within the proposed timelines
iii. Determine long-term population and habitat trends.
  • Long-term population and habitat monitoring program established and baseline data collected for all populations
iv. Evaluate and minimize threats to the species and its habitat.
  • Research conducted to evaluate changes in habitat conditions at extirpated and extant locations.
  • Quantification of BMPs (e.g., number of NMPs) implemented to address threats.
  • Habitat conservation tools to maintain enhance and restore habitat identified.
  • Communication strategy developed and implemented
  • Collaboration with municipal planning committees to prevent development of land adjacent to established Pugnose Shiner habitat at 50% of locations.
  • Municipal waste- and storm-water facilities informed of impacts of facilities on Pugnose Shiner in areas where studies suggest impacts.
v. Investigate the feasibility of population supplementation or repatriation for populations that may be extirpated or reduced.
  • Research initiated into efficacy of repatriations for Pugnose Shiner.
vi. Enhance efficiency of recovery efforts through coordination with aquatic and terrestrial ecosystem recovery teams and other relevant or complementary groups/initiatives.
  • Collaboration with all ecosystem recovery teams and other stakeholders.
vii. Improve overall awareness of the Pugnose Shiner and the role of healthy aquatic ecosystems, and their importance to humans.
  • Outreach programs developed and initiated to target recreation and park areas.
  • Communication strategy completed.

2.7 Critical Habitat

2.7.1 Identification of the Pugnose Shiner critical habitat

The identification of critical habitat for Endangered species (on Schedule 1) is a requirement of SARA. Once identified, critical habitat must be legally protected by provisions in, or measures under, SARA or any other Act of Parliament (including an agreement under s.11 of SARA), or by a critical habitat protection order. Critical habitat is defined under Section 2(1) of SARA 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”. (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 Pugnose Shiner, critical habitat has been identified to the extent possible, using the best available information. 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. Critical habitat was identified in all locations where extant populations have been identified with the exception of Canard River and Whitebread Drain. The decision to not identify critical habitat in these two locations was supported by the recovery team. The rationale was based on several factors; low occurrences despite multi-year targeted sampling, proximity to other extant populations, and availability of suitable habitat. 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 the following areas where the species occurs: the Teeswater River, Old Ausable Channel, Mouth Lake, St. Clair National Wildlife Area, Little Bear Creek (Sydenham Region), Long Point Bay/Big Creek, Wellers Bay, West Lake, East Lake, Waupoos Bay and the St. Lawrence River/St. Lawrence Islands National Park; additional areas of potential critical habitat within the Lake St. Clair/Walpole Island area will be considered in collaboration with Walpole Island First Nation.

Using this approach, the box outlines areas within which the species is known to occur (i.e., areas where multiple adults and/or young of the year (YOY) have been captured). It is further refined through the use of essential functions, features and attributes for each life stage of the Pugnose Shiner to identify patches of critical habitat within the bounding box. 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., bathymetry data), it was used to inform the identification of critical habitat.

For all river locations, critical habitat was identified based on a bounding box approach and further refined with an ecological classification system, the Aquatic Landscape Inventory System (ALIS). ALIS 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 catchments. 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 Pugnose Shiner was therefore identified as the reach of rivers that includes all contiguous ALIS segments from the uppermost stream segment with the species present to the lowermost stream segment with the species present.

For lake locations, critical habitat is currently identified, based on a bounding box approach, and refined using National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) bathymetry data.

Critical habitat in the St. Lawrence River/St. Lawrence Islands National Park used a different approach which is described below.

All data was included for the identification of critical habitat. Any additional detail on the specific methods and data used to identify critical habitat is provided in the individual critical habitat descriptions (below), when relevant.

Teeswater River

The first record of Pugnose Shiner was in 2005 when three specimens were captured, and it was subsequently detected in 2009 and 2010. Two specimens were captured in a reservoir (Cargill Mill Pond) on the river and two were captured downstream of the reservoir. The records downstream of the dam were not included as an area within which critical habitat is found. It seems likely that the Pugnose Shiner specimens captured downstream originated in the reservoir and were washed over the dam and the habitat did not appear suitable. Further surveys should be undertaken to clarify the distribution. In 2010, 24 individuals were caught within the reservoir from 3 sampling sites.

Old Ausable Channel

Sampling data in the river was taken from the Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) database for the period of 1982 - 2010. These populations have been sampled extensively, relative to some other Canadian Pugnose Shiner populations. Additionally, a detailed spatial analysis linking species occurrence to habitat conditions within a portion of the Old Ausable Channel has been completed by the Ausable River Recovery Team and is the basis of determining critical habitat within the Old Ausable Channel.

Long Point Bay and Big Creek (Haldimand-Norfolk County)

The 1 m contour was used as the vast majority of records were contained within this shallow region (only one record, from 1947, falls outside of the 1 m contour)

Waupoos Bay

The 2 m contour was used as all records were contained within this contour.

St. Lawrence River/St. Lawrence Islands National Park

The first record of Pugnose Shiner in the St. Lawrence River is from 1935 at a dock at Gananoque and the most recent record is from 2010. There is an additional record for the species in the Gananoque River proper also in 1935, located just over 1 km upstream from the confluence with the St. Lawrence River. However, a dam located just north of Hwy #2 separates this record from the records in the St. Lawrence River and it was considered separately from the St. Lawrence River population. Critical habitat was identified based on a specific bounding box approach called the population range envelope and refined using bathymetry and high water mark data. A population range envelope is a projected rectangle around occurrence points based on the minimum and maximum latitude and longitude values. This rectangle is then buffered by a value of 10% to the minimum and maximum latitude and longitude values of all occurrence points for the population. Within the projected rectangle, the area within which critical habitat is found was further refined using bathymetry data generated by DFO, to exclude areas deeper than 3 m.

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 Pugnose Shiner was estimated for Canadian populations for both riverine (river) and lacustrine (lake) populations (refer to Section 2.7.4). The MAPV is defined as the amount of exclusive and suitable habitat required for a demographically sustainable recovery target based on the concept of a MVP size (Vélez-Espino et al. 2008). The estimated MVP for Pugnose Shiner is 14 325 adults and for YOY was estimated at 1 231 327 (Venturelli et al. 2010). For more information on the MVP and MAPV and associated methodology please refer to Venturelli et al.(2010).

The MAPV is a quantitative metric of critical habitat that can assist with the recovery and management of species at risk ((Vélez-Espino et al. 2008). The MAPV for the Pugnose Shiner has been estimated to be 0.015 km² and 0.050 km² in rivers and lakes, respectively (Venturelli et al. 2010). MAPV values are somewhat conservative in that they represent the sum of habitat needs calculated for all life history stages of the Pugnose Shiner; these numbers do not take into account the potential for overlap in the habitat of the various life history stages and may overestimate the area required to support an MVP. However, since many of these populations occur in areas of degraded habitat (MAPV assumes habitat quality is optimal), areas larger than the MAPV may be required to support an MVP. In addition, for many populations, it is likely that only a portion of the habitat within that identified as the critical habitat would meet the functional requirements of the species’ various life stages.

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 Pugnose Shiner. Table 9 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 9. Essential functions, features and attributes of critical habitat for each life stage of the Pugnose Shiner (where known or supported by existing data)
Life stageHabitat requirement (function)Feature(s)Attribute(s)
Spawn to embryo
  • Spawning (likely occurs in mid May to July)
  • Nursery
Areas that seasonally support aquatic vegetation
  • Clear, calm, shallow water (< 2m deep)
  • Dense submersed vegetation
  • Mix of silt, sand and sometimes gravel
  • Warm water temperatures (spawning generally occurs from 21 to 29°C)
Young of the year
  • Feeding
  • Cover
Areas that seasonally support aquatic vegetation
  • Shallow water (<2m deep)
  • Heavily vegetated (e.g. stonewort (Chara vulgaris), wild celery (Vallisneria americana), pondweeds (Potamogeton spp.) and naiad (Najas flexilis)
Adult (ages 1 {sexual maturity} to 4 years old)
  • Feeding
  • Cover
Areas that seasonally support aquatic vegetation
  • Calm water, <3m deep
  • Low gradients
  • Abundant rooted vegetation especially stonewort
  • Mix of silt, sand and sometimes gravel

Studies to further refine knowledge on the essential functions, features and attributes for various life stages of the Pugnose Shiner 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 Pugnose Shiner populations in the following areas:

  • Teeswater River
  • Old Ausable Channel
  • Mouth Lake
  • St. Clair National Wildlife Area
  • Little Bear Creek (Lake St. Clair tributary)
  • Long Point Bay/Big Creek
  • Wellers Bay
  • West Lake
  • East Lake
  • Waupoos Bay
  • St. Lawrence River/St. Lawrence Islands National Park

In the future, with new information, additional areas could be identified and/or additional information may be obtained to allow further clarification about the functional descriptions. Areas of critical habitat identified at some locations may overlap with critical habitat identified for other co-occurring species at risk; however, the specific habitat requirements within these areas may vary by species.

The areas delineated on the following maps (Figures 4-13) represent the areas within which critical habitat is found for the above mentioned populations. 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 for one or more life stages of the Pugnose Shiner (refer to Table 9). Note that existing permanent anthropogenic features that may be present within the areas delineated (e.g., marinas, navigational channels) are specifically excluded from the critical habitat description as the habitat in these areas are unlikely to possess the required attributes for Pugnose Shiner. Brief explanations for the areas identified as critical habitat are provided below.

Teeswater River

Critical habitat has been identified as the area from the dam in Cargill Mill Pond, and the first aquatic landscape inventory system (ALIS) segment, upstream of the reservoir (Figure 4). The area within which critical habitat is found represents a stretch of the river approximately 1.4 km long and an approximate area of 0.014 km². The critical habitat geospatial limit includes the active channel/bankfull which is often the 1:2 year flood flow return level.

Figure 4. Area within which critical habitat is found for the Pugnose Shiner in the Teeswater River

Map showing the area within which critical habitat is found for the Pugnose Shiner in the Teeswater River (see long description below).
Description of Figure 4

Figure 4 is captioned “Area within which critical habitat is found for the Pugnose Shiner in the Teeswater River”. The figure is a map of the Teeswater River with critical habitat identified (shaded in pink). These areas include the area from the dam in Cargill Mill Pond, and the first Aquatic Landscape Inventory System segment, upstream of the reservoir. An inset illustrates the geographical location of the map on a larger scale map. Individual data points for capture of Pugnose Shiner (2005–2010; 2005) are shown, as well as sites for Ontario fish sampling (1846–2010). A legend and scale are provided.

Old Ausable Channel

Critical habitat has been identified as the area from the mouth of the channel at the Ausable River, upstream to its end near Grand Bend (Figure 5). The majority of this area lies within the boundaries of the Pinery Provincial Park (North, South, and Central). The area within which critical habitat is found represents an area of approximately 13 km of river or 0.61 km². The critical habitat geospatial limit includes the active channel/bankfull which is often the 1:2 year flood flow return level.

Figure 5. Area within which critical habitat is found for the Pugnose Shiner in the Old Ausable Channel

Map showing the area within which critical habitat is found for the Pugnose Shiner in the Old Ausable Channel (see long description below).
Description of Figure 5

Figure 5 is captioned “Area within which critical habitat is found for the Pugnose Shiner in the Old Ausable Channel”. The figure is a map of the Old Ausable Channel with critical habitat identified (shaded in pink). These areas include the area from the mouth of the channel at the Ausable River, upstream to its end near Grand Bend. The majority of this area is within the boundaries of the Pinery Provincial Park. An inset illustrates the geographical location of the map on a larger scale map. Individual data points for capture of Pugnose Shiner (1982–2009) are shown, as well as sites for Ontario fish sampling (1846–2010). A legend and scale are provided.

Mouth Lake

Critical habitat has been identified as the entire lake (Figure 6). The area within which critical habitat is found represents an area of approximately 0.05 km². The critical habitat geospatial limit includes the contiguous waters and wetlands, extending up to the high water mark.

Figure 6. Area within which critical habitat is found for the Pugnose Shiner in Mouth Lake

Map showing the area within which critical habitat is found for the Pugnose Shiner in Mouth Lake (see long description below).
Description of Figure 6

Figure 6 is captioned “Area within which critical habitat is found for the Pugnose Shiner in Mouth Lake”. The figure is a map of Mouth Lake and surrounding area, with critical habitat identified (shaded in pink). These areas include the entire lake. An inset illustrates the geographical location of the map on a larger scale map. Individual data points for capture of Pugnose Shiner (2010) are shown, as well as sites for Ontario fish sampling (1846–2010). A legend and scale are provided.

St. Clair National Wildlife Area

Critical habitat has been identified as the contiguous waters and wetlands (excluding permanently dry areas), up to the high water mark, of the entire western diked marsh in the St. Clair unit of the St. Clair National Wildlife Area (Figure 7). The area within which critical habitat is found represents an area of approximately 1.24 km². The critical habitat geospatial limit includes the contiguous waters and wetlands, extending up to the high water mark.

Figure 7. Area within which critical habitat is found for the Pugnose Shiner in the St. Clair National Wildlife Area

Map showing the area within which critical habitat is found for the Pugnose Shiner in the St. Clair National Wildlife Area (see long description below).
Description of Figure 7

Figure 7 is captioned “Area within which critical habitat is found for the Pugnose Shiner in the St. Clair National Wildlife Area”. The figure is a map of the St. Clair National Wildlife Area and surrounding areas, with critical habitat identified (shaded in pink). These areas include the contiguous waters and wetlands (excluding permanently dry areas), up to the high water mark, of the entire western diked marsh in the St. Clair unit of the St. Clair National Wildlife Area. An inset illustrates the geographical location of the map on a larger scale map. Individual data points for capture of Pugnose Shiner (2003–2004; 2006) are shown, as well as sites for Ontario fish sampling (1846–2010). A legend and scale are provided.

Little Bear Creek

The critical habitat area within which critical habitat is found has been identified from the mouth of Little Bear Creek at the Sydenham River upstream to Lindsay Road near Appledore, ON (Figure 8). The area within which critical habitat is found includes all contiguous Aquatic Landscape Inventory System segments from the uppermost stream segment with the species present to the lowermost stream segment with the species present. This represents a stretch of river approximately 26 km and 0.18 km². The critical habitat geospatial limit includes the active channel/bankfull which is often the 1:2 year flood flow return level.

Figure 8. Area within which critical habitat is found for the Pugnose Shiner in Little Bear Creek

Map showing the area within which critical habitat is found for the Pugnose Shiner in Little Bear Creek (see long description below).
Description of Figure 8

Figure 8 is captioned “Area within which critical habitat is found for the Pugnose Shiner in Little Bear Creek”. The figure is a map of the Little Bear Creek and surrounding areas, with critical habitat identified (shaded in pink). These areas are identified from the mouth of Little Bear Creek at the Sydenham River upstream to Lindsay Road near Appledore, Ontario. An inset illustrates the geographical location of the map on a larger scale map. Individual data points for capture of Pugnose Shiner (2003–2010) are shown, as well as sites for Ontario fish sampling (1846–2010). A legend and scale are provided.

Long Point Bay/Big Creek

Critical habitat has been identified as the contiguous waters and wetlands of Big Creek and Long Point Bay. In Long Point Bay, critical habitat extends from the high water mark down to the 1 m contour (Figure 9a). In Big Creek, the area within which critical habitat is found includes all contiguous waters and wetlands from the causeway west to, and including, the Big Creek unit only of Big Creek National Wildlife Area, except habitat contained within the interior diked cell within the National Wildlife Area (Figure 9b). This area also includes all contiguous wetlands to the north of Big Creek and the first two contiguous Aquatic Landscape Inventory System segments of Big Creek proper, extending to Concession A Road. Critical habitat extends up to the high water mark elevation for Lake Erie at 174.62 m above sea level (International Great Lakes Datum, 1985). The high water mark may extend to areas that are dry due to low water levels and may extend higher where coastal wetlands exist and habitat function is connected to Lake Erie. The area within which critical habitat is found represents an area of approximately 117 km².

Figure 9a. Area within which critical habitat is found for the Pugnose Shiner in Long Point Bay

Map showing the area within which critical habitat is found for the Pugnose Shiner in Long Point Bay (see long description below).
Description of Figure 9a

Figure 9a is captioned “Area within which critical habitat is found for the Pugnose Shiner in Long Point Bay”. The figure is a map of Long Point and the Lake Erie shoreline up to, and east of, Turkey Point, with critical habitat identified (shaded in pink). These areas include the contiguous waters and wetlands of Big Creek and Long Point Bay and, in Long Point Bay, extend from the high water mark down to the 1 m contour. An inset illustrates the geographical location of the map on a larger scale map. Individual data points for capture of Pugnose Shiner (1985–2010; 1947) are shown, as well as sites for Ontario fish sampling (1846–2010). A legend and scale are provided.

Figure 9b. Area within which critical habitat is found for the Pugnose Shiner in Big Creek

Map showing the area within which critical habitat is found for the Pugnose Shiner in Big Creek (see long description below).
Description of Figure 9b

Figure 9b is captioned “Area within which critical habitat is found for the Pugnose Shiner in Big Creek”. The figure is a map of Big Creek, the Big Creek National Wildlife Area, and surrounding areas, with critical habitat identified (shaded in pink). These areas include the contiguous waters and wetlands of Big Creek and Long Point Bay. In Big Creek, it includes all contiguous waters and wetlands from the causeway west to, and including, the Big Creek unit only of Big Creek National Wildlife Area, except habitat contained within the interior diked cell within the National Wildlife Area, and also including all contiguous wetlands to the north of Big Creek and the first two contiguous Aquatic Landscape Inventory System segments of Big Creek proper, extending to Concession A Rd. An inset illustrates the geographical location of the map on a larger scale map. Individual data points for capture of Pugnose Shiner (2003, 2009) are shown, as well as sites for Ontario fish sampling (1846–2010). A legend and scale are provided.

Wellers Bay

Critical habitat has been identified as all contiguous waters and wetlands of Wellers Bay up to the high water mark elevation for Lake Ontario at 75.32 m above sea level (International Great Lakes Datum, 1985). This includes all occasionally exposed lands of Wellers Bay National Wildlife Area lying between the high water mark (75.32 m above sea level) and the water’s edge of Wellers Bay, which forms the boundary of Wellers Bay National Wildlife Area which varies with water level fluctuations of Lake Ontario. The existing maintained, dredged channel at the north west end of Wellers Bay which provides the only water access for Wellers Bay is not included as critical habitat (Figure 10)., The high water mark may extend to areas that are dry due to low water levels and may extend higher where coastal wetlands exist and habitat function is connected to Lake Ontario. The area within which critical habitat is found represents an area of approximately 19 km².

Figure 10. Area within which critical habitat is found for the Pugnose Shiner in Wellers Bay

Map showing the area within which critical habitat is found for the Pugnose Shiner in Wellers Bay (see long description below).
Description of Figure 10

Figure 10 is captioned “Area within which critical habitat is found for the Pugnose Shiner in Wellers Bay and Wellers Bay National Wildlife Area”. The figure is a map of Wellers Bay and a portion of the Lake Ontario shoreline, and surrounding areas, with critical habitat identified (shaded in pink). These areas include all contiguous waters and wetlands of Wellers Bay and Wellers Bay National Wildlife Area. An inset illustrates the geographical location of the map on a larger scale map. Individual data points for capture of Pugnose Shiner (2010) are shown, as well as sites for Ontario fish sampling (1846–2010). A legend and scale are provided.

West Lake and East Lake

Critical habitat has been identified as all contiguous waters and wetlands of West Lake and East Lake (Figure 11), up to the high water mark elevation for Lake Ontario at 75.32 m above sea level (International Great Lakes Datum, 1985). The high water mark may extend to areas that are dry due to low water levels and may extend higher where coastal wetlands exist and habitat function is connected to Lake Ontario. The area within which critical habitat is found includes the creek that flows into West Lake, upstream to the junction with Wesley Acres Road. The area within which critical habitat is found represents an area of approximately 19 km² in West Lake. This area includes the creek that flows into East Lake. The area within which critical habitat is found represents an area of approximately 12 km² in East Lake.

Figure 11. Area within which critical habitat is found for the Pugnose Shiner in West Lake and East Lake

Map showing the area within which critical habitat is found for the Pugnose Shiner in West Lake and East Lake (see long description below).
Description of Figure 11

Figure 11 is captioned “Area within which critical habitat is found for the Pugnose Shiner in West Lake and East Lake”. The figure is a map of West Lake and East Lake, a portion of the Lake Ontario shoreline, and surrounding areas, with critical habitat identified (shaded in pink). These areas include all contiguous waters and wetlands of West Lake and East Lake including the creek that flows into West Lake, upstream to the junction with Wesley Acres Rd., and the creek that flows into East Lake. An inset illustrates the geographical location of the map on a larger scale map. Individual data points for capture of Pugnose Shiner (2009, 2010) are shown, as well as sites for Ontario fish sampling (1846–2010). A legend and scale are provided.

WaupoosBay:

Critical habitat has been identified as all contiguous waters and wetlands of Waupoos Bay (Figure 12), up to the high water mark elevation for Lake Ontario at 75.32 m above sea level (International Great Lakes Datum, 1985) and down to the 2 m contour. The high water mark may extend to areas that are dry due to low water levels and may extend higher where coastal wetlands exist and habitat function is connected to Lake Ontario. The area within which critical habitat is found represents an area of approximately 1.6 km².

Figure 12. Area within which critical habitat is found for the Pugnose Shiner in Waupoos Bay

Map showing the area within which critical habitat is found for the Pugnose Shiner in Waupoos Bay (see long description below).
Description of Figure 12

Figure 12 is captioned “Area within which critical habitat is found for the Pugnose Shiner in Waupoos Bay”. The figure is a map of Waupoos Bay, a portion of the Lake Ontario shoreline, and surrounding areas, with critical habitat identified (shaded in pink). These areas include all contiguous waters and wetlands of Waupoos Bay from the high water mark down to the 2 m contour. An inset illustrates the geographical location of the map on a larger scale map. Individual data points for capture of Pugnose Shiner (2010) are shown, as well as sites for Ontario fish sampling (1846–2010). A legend and scale are provided.

St. Lawrence River/St. Lawrence Islands National Park

The area within which critical habitat is found includes all contiguous waters and wetlands, down to the 3 m contour and up to the high water mark elevation for Lake Ontario at 75.32 m above sea level (International Great Lakes Datum 1985). The high water mark may extend to areas that are dry due to low water levels and may extend higher where coastal wetlands exist and habitat function is connected to Lake Ontario. The area within which critical habitat is found extends downstream from just south-west of Eastview to just north-east of Mallorytown Landing, south to the Canada/U.S. border, and including the mouth of the Gananoque River up to the dam above Hwy #2 (Figures 13a and 13b). This represents an area of approximately 44 km².

Figure 13a. Area within which critical habitat is found for the Pugnose Shiner in the St. Lawrence River

Map showing the area within which critical habitat is found for the Pugnose Shiner in the St. Lawrence River (see long description below).
Description of Figure 13a

Figure 13a is captioned “Area within which critical habitat is found for the Pugnose Shiner in the St. Lawrence River”. The figure is a map of the St. Lawrence River, just downstream of the eastern end of Lake Ontario, in the vicinity of Howe Island from Eastview to just downstream of Gananoque. Critical habitat identified (shaded in pink) includes all contiguous waters and wetlands and extends downstream from just south-west of Eastview to just north-east of Mallorytown Landing, south to the Canada/U.S. border and including the mouth of the Gananoque River up to the dam above Hwy #2. An inset illustrates the geographical location of the map on a larger scale map. Individual data points for capture of Pugnose Shiner (1935–2009, 1935) are shown, as well as sites for Ontario fish sampling (1846–2010). A legend and scale are provided.

Figure 13b. Area within which critical habitat is found for the Pugnose Shiner in the St. Lawrence River

Map showing the area within which critical habitat is found for the Pugnose Shiner in the St. Lawrence River (see long description below).
Description of Figure 13b

Figure 13b is captioned “Area within which critical habitat is found for the Pugnose Shiner in the St. Lawrence River”. The figure shows the St. Lawrence River from Gananoque, downstream to Mallorytown Landing and vicinity. Critical habitat identified (shaded in pink) includes all contiguous waters and wetlands and extends downstream from just south-west of Eastview to just north-east of Mallorytown Landing, south to the Canada/U.S. border and including the mouth of the Gananoque River up to the dam above Hwy #2. An inset illustrates the geographical location of the map on a larger scale map. Individual data points for capture of Pugnose Shiner (1935–2009, 1935) are shown, as well as sites for Ontario fish sampling (1846–2010). A legend and scale are provided.

These identifications of critical habitat ensure that currently occupied habitat within the Teeswater River, Old Ausable Channel, Mouth Lake, St. Clair National Wildlife Area, Little Bear Creek (Sydenham River Region), Long Point Bay/Big Creek, Wellers Bay, West Lake, East Lake, Waupoos Bay, and the St. Lawrence River/St. Lawrence Islands National Park will be protected, until such time as critical habitat for the species is further refined according to the schedule of studies (Section 2.7.5 below). The schedule of studies outlines activities necessary to refine the current critical habitat descriptions at confirmed extant locations, but will also apply to new locations should new locations with established populations be confirmed. Critical habitat descriptions will be refined as additional information becomes available to support the population and distribution objectives.

2.7.4.1 Population viability

Comparisons were made with the area within which critical habitat is found for each population relative to the estimated minimum area for population viability ()(Table 10). 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 would meet the functional habitat requirements of the species’ various life stages. In addition, since these populations occur in areas of degraded habitat ( assumes habitat quality is optimal), areas larger than the may be required to support an MVP. Future studies may help quantify the amount and quality of available habitat within currently identified critical habitats for all populations; such information, along with the verification of the model, will allow greater certainty for the determination of population viability. As such, the results below are preliminary and should be interpreted with caution.

Table 10. Comparison of area within which critical habitat is found for each Pugnose Shiner population, relative to the estimated minimum area for population viability
PopulationTable notebArea of critical habitat identified (km²)Habitat typearea (km²)achieved?
Teeswater River0.014Lacustrine0.050No
Old Ausable Channel0.61Riverine0.015Yes
Mouth Lake0.05Lacustrine0.050Yes
St. Clair NWA1.24Lacustrine0.050Yes
Little Bear Creek0.18Riverine0.015Yes
Long Point Bay/Big Creek116.15Lacustrine0.050Yes
Wellers Bay19.07Lacustrine0.050Yes
West Lake19.32Lacustrine0.050Yes
East Lake11.6Lacustrine0.050Yes
Waupoos Bay1.6Lacustrine0.050Yes
St. Lawrence River44.03Riverine0.015Yes

Table notes

Table note b

Note that some locations may contain more than one population (e.g., some of the larger areas such as Long Point Bay). In such cases, the would be applied to each individual population.

Return to Table note b referrer

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 Pugnose Shiner 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 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 all life stages (especially juvenile and YOY life-stages).There is little known about YOY and juvenile habitat requirements. Determining habitat requirements for each life stage will help identify all types of critical habitat for this species.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.2012-2014
Conduct additional species surveys to fill in distribution gaps, and to aid in determining population connectivity.Additional populations and corresponding critical habitat may be required to meet the population and distribution objectives.2012-2014
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.2015-2016
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 model.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.2015-2016

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

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

The definition of destruction is interpreted in the following manner:

“Destruction of critical habitat would result if any 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 single or multiple activities at one point in time or from cumulative effects of one or more activities over time.”

Under SARA, critical habitat must be legally protected from destruction once it is identified. This will be accomplished through a s.58 Order, which will prohibit the destruction of the identified critical habitat.

Activities that ultimately increase siltation/turbidity levels and/or result in the decrease of water quality or cause direct habitat modification can negatively impact Pugnose Shiner 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 threats described in Section 1.5. The absence of a specific human activity does not preclude the department’s ability to regulate it pursuant to SARA. Furthermore, the inclusion of an activity does not necessarily result in its prohibition. The prohibition against the destruction of critical habitat is engaged if a critical habitat protection order is made (although an order need not made if critical habitat is already legally protected by provisions in, or measures under, SARA or any other Act of Parliament). Also, activities that impact critical habitat but do not result in its destruction are not prohibited. Since habitat use is often temporal in nature, every activity is assessed on a case-by-case basis and site-specific mitigation measures are applied where they are 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. In particular, information associated with a species or habitat’s thresholds of tolerance to disturbance from human activities, is lacking and must be acquired.

Table 12: Human activities likely to result in the destruction of critical habitat for Pugnose Shiner
(The effect pathway for each activity is provided as well as the potential links to the biophysical functions, features and attributes of critical habitat.)
ActivityAffect - pathwayFunction affectedFeature affectedAttribute affected

Habitat modifications:

  • Dredging
  • Placement of material or structures in water (e.g., groynes, piers, infilling, partial infills, jetties, etc.)
  • Shoreline hardening
  • Changes in bathymetry and shoreline morphology caused by dredging and near-shore grading and excavation can remove (or cover) preferred substrates, change water depths, change flow patterns potentially affecting nutrient levels and water temperatures.
  • 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.
  • Changing shoreline morphology can result in altered flow patterns, change sediment depositional areas, reduce oxygenation of substrates, cause erosion and alter turbidity levels. These changes can promote aquatic plant growth and cause changes to nutrient levels.
  • Hardening of shorelines can reduce organic inputs into the water and alter water temperatures potentially affecting the availability of prey for this species.
  • Spawning
  • Nursery
  • Feeding
  • Cover
Areas that seasonally support aquatic vegetation
  • Water quality
  • Vegetation composition and density
  • Substrate composition
  • Water temperature

Habitat modifications:

  • Water extraction
  • Change in timing, duration and frequency of flow
  • Water extraction can affect surface water levels and flow and groundwater inputs into streams and rivers affecting habitat availability
  • Altered flow patterns can affect sediment deposition
  • Spawning
  • Nursery
  • Feeding
  • Cover

 

Areas that seasonally support aquatic vegetation
  • Water quality
  • Vegetation composition and density
  • Substrate composition
  • Water temperature

Habitat modifications:

  • Unfettered livestock access to waterbodies
  • Grazing of livestock and ploughing to water’s edge
  • Resulting damage to shorelines, banks and watercourse bottoms from unfettered access by livestock can cause increased erosion and sedimentation, affecting substrate oxygenation and water temperatures.
  • Such access can also increase organic nutrient inputs into the water causing nutrient loading and potentially promoting algal blooms.
  • Spawning
  • Nursery
  • Feeding
  • Cover

 

Areas that seasonally support aquatic vegetation

 

  • Water quality
  • Vegetation composition and density
  • Substrate composition
  • Water temperature
Habitat modifications:
Mechanical removal of riparian vegetation
Removal of riparian vegetation can cause erosion and increase turbidity, ultimately affecting preferred substrates and oxygenation of substrates. Water temperatures can also be negatively affected by removal of riparian vegetation and water velocities can be increased during high water events.
  • Spawning
  • Nursery
  • Feeding
  • Cover

 

Areas that seasonally support aquatic vegetation
  • Water quality
  • Vegetation composition and density
  • Substrate composition
  • Water temperature
Deliberate introduction of exotic speciesCommon Carp uproot aquatic vegetation and increase turbidity levels. Eurasian milfoil can grow in dense mats, blocking sunlight, increasing phosphorous and nitrogen levels, increasing temperature and may become too dense to be used by Pugnose Shiner for spawning
  • Spawning
  • Nursery
  • Feeding
  • Cover

 

Areas that seasonally support aquatic vegetation
  • Water quality
  • Vegetation composition and density
  • Substrate composition
  • Water temperature
Nutrient loadings:
Over-application of fertilizer and improper nutrient management (e.g., organic debris management, wastewater management, animal waste, septic systems and municipal sewage)
Improper nutrient management can cause nutrient loading of nearby waterbodies. Elevated nutrient levels can cause increased aquatic plant growth changing water temperatures and slowly change preferred flows and substrates. Oxygen levels in substrates can also be negatively affected.
  • Spawning
  • Nursery
  • Feeding
  • Cover

 

Areas that seasonally support aquatic vegetation
  • Water quality
  • Vegetation composition and density
  • Substrate composition
  • Water temperature

Sediment loading and turbidity:

  • Altered flow regimes causing erosion and changing sediment transport (e.g., tiling of agricultural drainage systems, removal of riparian zones, etc.)
  • 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.)
Improper sediment and erosion control or mitigation can cause increased turbidity levels, changing preferred substrates and their oxygen levels, potentially reducing feeding success or prey availability, impacting the growth of aquatic vegetation and possibly excluding fish from habitat due to physiological impacts of sediment in the water (e.g., gill irritation).
Also see: Habitat Modifications: Change in timing, duration and frequency of flow.
  • Spawning
  • Nursery
  • Feeding
  • Cover

 

Areas that seasonally support aquatic vegetation
  • Water quality
  • Vegetation composition and density
  • Substrate composition
  • Water temperature
Aquatic vegetation removal:
Vegetation clearing (mechanical and chemical removal)
Removal of aquatic vegetation required by the species to spawn and for cover can negatively affect recruitment and predation success. Plant die-off following chemical treatments and the removal of plant material can also negatively impact water quality affecting turbidity and water temperatures.
  • Spawning
  • Nursery
  • Feeding
  • Cover

 

Areas that seasonally support aquatic vegetation
  • Water quality
  • Vegetation composition and density
  • Substrate composition
  • Water temperature

Barriers such as dikes and dams at two locations (Old Ausable Channel, St. Clair NWA and Big Creek NWA) maintain habitat conditions for Pugnose Shiner populations. As such, the loss of these structures in these locations may result in the destruction of critical habitat.

Certain habitat management activities are recognized as being beneficial to the long-term survival and/or recovery of the species and may be permitted under s.73 of SARA when required, as long as DFO is satisfied that the conditions of s.73 can be met. Such activities may include, but are not limited to, the removal/control of exotic aquatic/semi-aquatic vegetation, water level management (including dike maintenance) and habitat restoration activities (e.g., fire management). For example, in NWAs, water levels may be managed and some aquatic vegetation may be removed, to maintain hemi-marsh conditions (i.e., 50/50 emergent/open water habitat). Big Creek and St. Clair NWAs, have been diked and have had ongoing water level/aquatic vegetation management (approximately once a decade) for the past 25 to 60 years (J. Robinson, pers. comm. 2008). Short-term water level draw-downs result in improved habitat conditions for waterfowl and, despite the obvious loss of habitat in the short term, also appear to improve habitat conditions for Pugnose Shiner in the long term. However, the impacts to the population and its long-term viability are unknown and require further investigation. In future, research will inform such water management approaches to minimize short term impacts to existing Pugnose Shiner populations. Many other restoration activities that improve the quality and/or quantity of available wetland habitat for the Pugnose Shiner may be necessary.

Note that in cases where critical habitats of multiple species occur, as in NWAs, that an ecosystem approach to the management of habitat is required to maximize benefit to co-occurring species at risk (of all taxa, including fishes, birds, reptiles, etc). Such an approach would require multi-jurisdictional discussions and recognizes that negative impacts to some species and their habitats may result from habitat management practices aimed at achieving an overall net benefit to the ecosystem and the species at risk that it supports. This approach could be formalized within a management plan for the relevant NWAs, developed by Environment Canada in consultation with Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

2.8 Existing and recommended approaches to habitat protection

Federal

Pugnose Shiner habitat receives general protection from works or undertakings under the habitat provisions of the federal Fisheries Act.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) also 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, lessen and monitor those effects.

The critical habitat of Pugnose Shiner in the St. Clair, Big Creek, and Long Point NWAs will be protected by the prohibition against destruction of critical habitat, pursuant to subsection 58(2) of the SARA, 90 days after the description of critical habitat as identified in the recovery strategy is published in the Canada Gazette. This prohibition provides additional protection to that already afforded and available under the Canada Wildlife Act, as well as the Wildlife Area Regulation associated with this statute.

Provincial

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. Under the Public Lands Act, a permit may be required for work in the water and along the shore. In the Ausable River watershed, the majority of the Old Ausable Channel, where Pugnose Shiner occurs, is protected within the boundaries of Pinery Provincial Park, conferring some degree of protection from development pressures and activities through the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act. Additionally, the entire Old Ausable Channel was designated as a Provincially Significant Wetland in 2008 by the OMNR (K. Jean, ABCA, pers. comm.).

The Pugnose Shiner 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 Pugnose Shiner will be protected under the general habitat protection provisions of the Act as of June 30, 2013 unless a specific habitat regulation is developed by the provincial government at an earlier date.

2.9 Effects on other species

Pugnose Shiner habitat is shared by many other species, including multiple species at risk. These include not only aquatic species but also a number of amphibians, turtles, plants and birds. 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 may differ from those of Pugnose Shiner. Thus, it is important that habitat management activities for Pugnose Shiner be considered from an approach 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 will be implemented through existing ecosystem-based recovery programs that have already taken into account the needs of other species at risk. No negative impacts on other species resulting from implementation of Pugnose Shiner recovery actions are expected.

2.10 Recommended approach for recovery implementation

The recovery team recommends a dual approach to recovery implementation that combines an ecosystem-based approach with a single-species focus. This will be accomplished by working closely with existing ecosystem recovery teams to combine efficiencies and share knowledge on recovery initiatives. There are currently three aquatic ecosystem-based recovery strategies (Ausable River, Essex-Erie region, and Walpole Island) being implemented that address several populations of Pugnose Shiner. Pugnose Shiner populations also occur outside the boundaries of existing ecosystem-based recovery programs in Lake St. Clair, Wellers Bay, West Lake, East Lake, Waupoos Bay, the St. Lawrence River/St. Lawrence Islands National Park, and the Teeswater River. 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 ecosystem-based recovery initiatives are developed in the future for these watersheds, the present single-species strategy will provide a strong foundation to build upon.

2.11 Statement on action plans

Action plans are documents that describe, among other things, the activities designed to achieve the recovery goals and objectives identified in the recovery strategy. Under SARA, an action plan provides the detailed recovery planning that supports the strategic direction set out in the recovery strategy for the species. The plan outlines what needs to be done to achieve the recovery goals and objectives identified in the recovery strategy, including the measures to be taken to address the threats and monitor the recovery of the species, as well as the measures to protect critical habitat. Action plans offer an opportunity to involve many interests in working together to find creative solutions to recovery challenges.

One or more action plans relating to this recovery strategy will be produced within five years of the final strategy being posted to the SARA registry.