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COSEWIC Assessment and Update Status Report on the Carmine Shiner in Canada

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COSEWIC
Executive Summary

Carmine Shiner
Notropis Percobromus

Species Information

In 1994 and again in 2001, COSEWIC assessed minnows belonging to the rosyface shiner species complex, including those in Manitoba, as rosyface shiner (Notropis rubellus). In 2001, the Manitoba population was designated as “Threatened”, based on its disjunct distribution in relation to other populations of the species, its restricted range, and the species’ sensitivity to changes in water temperature and quality. Recent studies have shown that the fish found in Manitoba are not rosyface shiners but carmine shiners (N. percobromus), a species that has not been reported elsewhere in Canada. The name comes from the “carmine” colour developed in breeding individuals.

 

Distribution

This Manitoba population is disjunct from carmine shiner populations in northwestern Minnesota but, since 2001, its known distribution has been broadened from the Whitemouth River watershed to include the Bird River and Pinawa Channel of the Winnipeg River watershed downstream.

 

Habitat

In summer, carmine shiners in Manitoba are found mostly at midwater depths of clear, brown-coloured, fast flowing creeks and small rivers with clean gravel or rubble substrates, usually at the foot of riffles. Otherwise, their habitat requirements are unknown.

 

Biology

These slender, elongate minnows are omnivorous lower to mid-level consumers that spawn in early summer. Little else is known of their biology, life history, distribution, or abundance. Consequently, critical habitat cannot be identified, and too little is known of the species’ physiology or ability to adapt to different conditions to identify factors that might limit its recovery. Genetic (DNA) and morphological studies are underway to improve the ability to distinguish carmine shiners from other members of the rosyface shiner species complex.

 

Population Sizes and Trends/Limiting Factors and Threats

There is no evidence that the Manitoba population has declined over time, but because of its apparently limited distribution and abundance, the species may be sensitive to future anthropogenic disturbances. Threats to the species include: habitat loss/degradation, overexploitation, species introductions, and pollution. However, too little is known of the species’ life history requirements and habitat use to assess the actual threats each may pose. Habitat loss and/or degradation associated with flow regulation, shoreline development, landscape changes and climate change is likely in some reaches of the rivers inhabited by carmine shiners and, at present, is probably the most significant threat to survival of these fish. Overexploitation probably is not a serious threat to the species as baitfish harvesters do not target it, and baitfishes are rarely harvested from habitats where carmine shiners have been found.

 

Special Significance of the Species

The species has no direct economic importance and limited importance as a forage species, but is of biological significance and scientific interest.

 

Existing Protection

Carmine shiner critical habitat, once identified, would be afforded protection under the Species at Risk Act and under general provisions of the Fisheries Act, but it is not otherwise protected in Manitoba