Skip booklet index and go to page content

COSEWIC Assessment and Update Status Report on the Banded Killifish, Newfoundland population in Canada

Habitat

Habitat Requirements

As nearly all the literary accounts indicate, Banded Killifish are most often observed in the shallows and quiet areas of clear lakes and ponds with a muddy or sandy substrate, high detrital content, and abundant submerged aquatic vegetation (e.g. Trautman 1957; Scott and Crossman 1964, 1973; Houston 1990). 

Qualitative examinations of lakes where Banded Killifish populations occur in Newfoundland are consistent with accounts describing Banded Killifish habitat. Dense submerged aquatic vegetation, in particular, and a variety of substrates ranging from fine sand and mud to gravel and cobble were good indicators of the regions where Banded Killifish were most often observed or caught (Chippett In prep.). The relationship between Banded Killifish and submerged aquatic vegetation is related to the plant-spawning behaviour of Banded Killifish and the need for vegetation for the adherence of eggs.  Macrophytes common in areas where Banded Killifish exist in the Indian Bay watershed included Utricularia purpurea, Potamogeton epihydrus, Myriophyllum tenellum, Lobelia dortmanna, and Eriocaulon and Isoetes sp. with densities ranging from 4-16 per 0.25m2 quadrants. The most predominant species are Lobelia dortmanna, Isoetes sp. and Eriocaulon sp. (Chippett In prep.).


Trends

Banded Killifish habitat, in terms of substrate type and aquatic vegetation, is readily available throughout most regions of Newfoundland (Chippett In prep.). Habitat is limited only to the extent that it is unlikely to be utilized in more inland waters due to rivers of steep gradients and other barriers to migration. Moreover, Banded Killifish are often not observed in areas of suitable habitat in areas connected via passable streams to known populations. This is particularly evident in the Indian Bay watershed where Banded Killifish have been caught in only 3 of 17 lakes, but where appropriate habitat is found in various regions of all lakes (Chippett In prep.) and, for the most part, there do not appear to be barriers to migration.


Protection/Ownership

Houston (1990) indicated that there is no special protection for this species in Canada and that general protection is available through the habitat sections of the federal Fisheries Act. In August 2002, however, the Newfoundland and Labrador government passed an Endangered Species Act protecting Fundulus diaphanus and 19 other species. There are special circumstances surrounding certain populations including the potential of the Grand Bay West population (First pond) being included in an ecological reserve, the Winterland population being a part of the Eastern Joint Habitat Venture, and the closure of Loch Leven to recreational angling reducing public traffic in, on and around this lake. The presence of Banded Killifish in these areas, however, had little to do with these initiatives and was usually discovered after steps to protect the region had already been taken (Chippett In prep.).

In certain areas of the United States, Banded Killifish have disappeared from watersheds where they were traditionally known to occur. Fundulus diaphanus is considered endangered in Pennsylvania and South Dakota and have entered a period of decline in Illinois (Houston 1990). Protected status has been granted in South Dakota and Ohio in the latter a massive effort involving captive breeding and reintroduction has been developed with some success in reintroducing Banded Killifish to parts of its original range in that state. Much of the habitat concerns for Banded Killifish in the United States are due to habitat degradation and loss due to wetland drainage (Houston 1990).