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Recovery Strategy for the Aurora Trout in Canada [Proposed]

Recovery Strategy for the Aurora Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis timagamiensis) in Canada

Aurora Trout

Aurora Trout

About the Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series

What is the Species at Risk Act (SARA)?

SARA is the Act developed by the federal government as a key contribution to the common national effort to protect and conserve species at risk in Canada. SARA came into force in 2003 and one of its purposes is “to provide for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated, endangered or threatened as a result of human activity.”

What is recovery?

In the context of species at risk conservation,recoveryis the process by which the decline of an endangered, threatened or extirpated species is arrested or reversed, and threats are removed or reduced to improve the likelihood of the species’ persistence in the wild. A species will be consideredrecoveredwhen its long-term persistence in the wild has been secured.

What is a recovery strategy?

A recovery strategy is a planning document that identifies what needs to be done to arrest or reverse the decline of a species. It sets goals and objectives and identifies the main areas of activities to be undertaken. Detailed planning is done at the action plan stage.

Recovery strategy development is a commitment of all provinces and territories and of three federal agencies -- Environment Canada, Parks Canada Agency and Fisheries and Oceans Canada -- under the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk.  Sections 37–46 of SARA (http://www.sararegistry.gc.ca/the_act/default_e.cfm) spell out both the required content and the process for developing recovery strategies published in this series.

Depending on the status of the species and when it was assessed, a recovery strategy has to be developed within one to two years after the species is added to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk.  Three to four years is allowed for those species that were automatically listed when SARA came into force.

What’s next?

In most cases, one or more action plans will be developed to define and guide implementation of the recovery strategy. Nevertheless, directions set in the recovery strategy are sufficient to begin involving communities, land users, and conservationists in recovery implementation. Cost-effective measures to prevent the reduction or loss of the species should not be postponed for lack of full scientific certainty.

The series

This series presents the recovery strategies prepared or adopted by the federal government under SARA. New documents will be added regularly as species get listed and as strategies are updated.

To learn more


To learn more about the Species at Risk Act and recovery initiatives, please consult the SARA Public Registry (http://www.sararegistry.gc.ca/)and the web site of the Recovery Secretariat    (http://www.speciesatrisk.gc.ca/recovery/default_e.cfm).

Recovery Strategy for the aurora trout (Salvelinus fontinalis timagamiensis) in Canada       


May 2006

Recommended citation:

Aurora Trout Recovery Team. 2005. Recovery Strategy for the Aurora Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis timagamiensis) in Canada [Proposed]. In Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series. Ottawa: Fisheries and Oceans Canada. 53 pp.

Additional copies:

You can download additional copies from the SARA Public Registry (http://www.sararegistry.gc.ca/)

Cover illustration:Aurora trout by Cory Trepanier

Également disponible en français sous le titre : «Ébauche straté gie nationale de rétablissement de l’omble de fontaine aurora (Salvelinus fontinalis timagamiensis)»

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, 2006. All rights reserved.

ISBN    To come

Cat. no.   To come

Content (excluding the cover illustration) may be used without permission, with appropriate credit to the source.


This proposed recovery strategy for the aurora trout has been prepared in cooperation with the jurisdictions described in the Preface. Fisheries and Oceans Canada has reviewed and accepts this document as its recovery strategy for the aurora trout as required by the Species at Risk Act.

Success in the recovery of this species depends on the commitment and cooperation of many different constituencies that will be involved in implementing the directions set out in this strategy and will not be achieved by Fisheries and Oceans Canada or any other jurisdiction alone. In the spirit of the National Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans invites all Canadians to join Fisheries and Oceans Canada in supporting and implementing this strategy for the benefit of the aurora trout and Canadian society as a whole. Fisheries and Oceans Canada will support implementation of this strategy to the extent possible, given available resources and its overall responsibility for species at risk conservation. The Minister will report on progress within five years.

This strategy will be complemented by one or more action plans that will provide details on specific recovery measures to be taken to support conservation of the species. The Minister will take steps to ensure that, to the extent possible, Canadians interested in or affected by these measures will be consulted.

Responsible juridictions

The responsible jurisdiction for the aurora trout is Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Aurora Trout occurs in Ontario, and their respective governments also cooperated in the production of this recovery strategy:


This document was prepared by aurora trout Recovery Team.

Members of the Recovery Team:

The members of the existing aurora trout Management Committee have prepared this Recovery Strategy.  Hereafter, for the purposes of this document, the Management Committee will be referred to as the aurora trout Recovery Team (ATRT).  The Recovery Team currently consists of the following members:

·  Kevin Pinkerton (Committee Chair); Manager, Hills Lake Fish Culture Station (HLFCS), (OMNR);

·  Jeff Brinsmead (Principle Author), Northeast Region, (OMNR)

·  Alan Dextrase, Species at Risk Section, (OMNR)

·   Thom Heiman, (DFO)

·   John Gunn, Cooperative Freshwater Ecology Unit, Laurentian University

·  Chris Wilson, Research Scientist, OMNR/Trent University

·   Ron Ward, (HLFCS), (OMNR)

·   Larry Ferguson, Kirkland Lake District, (OMNR)

·   Chuck McCrudden, North Bay District, (OMNR)

·   KarenStokes, Timmins District, (OMNR)

·   Raymond Tyhuis, Nipigon District, (OMNR)

Past Recovery Team members involved in the preparation of the Recovery Strategy include: Greg Deyne, Rodger Leith (Principle Author), Mike Mazzetti, Linda Melnyk-Ferguson, Bill McCord and Ed Snucins.


The Recovery Team would like to thank all Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR), Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and Environment Canada (EC) personnel who provided comments on an earlier draft of the strategy.  OMNR (Fish and Wildlife Branch and the Ontario Parks Species at Risk Program) and the Endangered Species Recovery Fund (co-sponsored by World Wildlife Fund Canada and the Canadian Wildlife Service of Environment Canada) are to be commended for their long-standing and continued financial commitment to the recovery of aurora trout.  A debt of gratitude is extended to all those involved in previous and current recovery efforts, especially the staff of the Cooperative Freshwater Ecology Unit, a partnership of OMNR, EC, and Laurentian University, who have conducted field studies in the native lakes for more than 20 years.  Lastly, the aurora trout Recovery Team would like to acknowledge the foresight of Paul Graf, former manager at Hills Lake Fish Culture Station, who recognized the plight of this species during the 1950s and took steps to establish a captive breeding program, thereby ensuring a unique component of Canada’s rich aquatic biodiversity was not lost forever.


Aurora trout were initially believed to be a distinct species when first described by Henn and Rickenbach (1925).  Since then, others have classified it as a sub-species of brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) (Martin 1939; Sale 1967; Qadri 1968 and Behnke 1980), while Vladykov (1954) thought it was more a colour variant of brook trout.  Aurora trout are currently considered a race of brook trout (Snucins and Gunn 2000); however, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) has retained the sub-species designation.  Aurora trout are known to have existed with sympatric populations of brook trout in their native lakes with little genetic mixing.  This supports the recognition of aurora trout as a distinct evolutionary unit.

Sale(1967) described the colouration of aurora trout comparable to that of brook trout, with the dorsal surface being an olive green to dark brown that fades to an iridescent bluish-silver along the sides, ending in a white underbelly that is often coloured with shades of pink.  The dorsal and caudal fins possess a black leading edge, while the remaining fins have a leading white edge followed by a band of black pigmentation with the rear portion sporting a red or orange colouration.  All colours intensify during the fall spawning season.  Similar to the female brook trout, female aurora trout only show slight heightening of colouration, while both brook trout and aurora trout males develop a more pronounced hook to the jaw and a slight hump to the back.  The sides and upper ventral areas in male aurora trout become a brilliant red frequently edged by a black stripe.  In their respective descriptions of the aurora trout, Sale (1967) and Henn and Rickenbach (1925) noted two distinct visual differences from that of brook trout: (i) adult aurora trout lack the yellow spots and vermiculations observed on the dorsal surface of brook trout; and (ii) the numerous red spots encompassed by blue halos on the sides of brook trout were significantly reduced in number, or in most cases, were completely absent on aurora trout.  Sale (1964) observed a tendency for the yellow markings to be present in young aurora trout, however these markings were absent in adult aurora trout.  Quadri (1968) noted that vermiculations were visible on an adult aurora trout preserved in formalin.  Pale vermiculations were apparent on some of the aurora trout captured during 2003 in the native lakes (E. Snucins, pers. comm.).     

Qadri (1968) observed differences between aurora trout and brook trout in skeletal structure; in particular, the number of trunk vertebrate, the number of ribs with strongly bifid heads, the number of single neural spines and the total number of epineurals.  There are also some morphometric differences, including the length of the maxillary.

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