Skip booklet index and go to page content

Recovery Strategy for the Eastern Sand Darter

1.6 Actions Already Completed or Underway

Ontario Populations:

 i) There have been several surveys conducted in Ontario for eastern sand darter in recent years (1997-2005).

 Table 4.  Summary of recent eastern sand darter surveys in Ontario.

WaterbodyRecent Surveys
Ausable River
  • Non-targeted species at risk sampling, plus re-sampling of the 1928 eastern sand darter record (DFO 2002)A,C,D
Catfish Creek
  • OMNR-ROM targeted sampling (1997)A
  • DFO-University of Guelph fish community sampling (2002)C
Big Otter Creek
  • DFO-University of Guelph fish community sampling (2002-2003)
  • OMNR-DFO targeted sampling (fall 2004) A
Big Creek
  • OMNR-DFO targeted sampling (fall 2004) A
Sydenham River
  • ROM non-targeted species at risk sampling (1997)A
  • DFO-University of Guelph (2002-03) A, C
Grand River
  • DFO targeted sampling (2002)A
  • ROM targeted sampling (1999-2000)A
  • ROM non-targeted sampling (1997)A,C,D
  • OMNR fish community sampling (2004)D
Thames River
  • DFO targeted sampling using mark-recapture tagging to determine life history characteristics (2002-05) A
Lake Erie
  • OMNR Index Surveys of western basin and Long Point Bay (yearly)B
  • DFO Point Pelee (2002)B
  • OMNR-DFO beach fish community survey (2005)A
  • Ontario Parks/DFO – Rondeau Provincial Park (2005)A
Lake St. Clair
  • OMNR nearshore fish community survey (2005)A
  • Michigan DNR fish community survey (1996-2001)B

Gear type: A: seine; B: trawl; C: backpack electro-fisher; D: boat electro-fisher

ii) The following ecosystem or multi-species recovery strategies that address eastern sand darter recovery in Ontario have been initiated:

Sydenham Recovery Ecosystem Strategy- The primary objective of the Sydenham Recovery Ecosystem Strategy is to, “sustain and enhance the native aquatic communities of the Sydenham River through an ecosystem approach that focuses on species at risk” (Dextrase et al. 2003).  The recovery strategy focuses on the 16 aquatic species at risk within the basin, including the eastern sand darter.

ThamesRiver Recovery Ecosystem Strategy- The goal of the Thames River Recovery Team is to develop, “a recovery plan that improves the status of all aquatic species at risk in the Thames River through an ecosystem approach that sustains and enhances all native aquatic communities” (TRRT 2004).  The eastern sand darter is one of 25 aquatic species at risk included in this strategy.

AusableRiver Ecosystem Recovery Strategy- The long-term goal of the Ausable River Ecosystem Recovery Strategy is, “to sustain a healthy native aquatic community in the Ausable River through an ecosystem approach that focuses on the recovery of species at risk” (ARRT 2005).  The Ausable River Recovery Team has developed a recovery strategy for the 14 aquatic species at risk in the Ausable River basin, including the eastern sand darter.

Grand River Fish Species at Risk Recovery Strategy- The goal of Grand River Fish Species at Risk Recovery Team is to, “conserve and enhance the native fish community using sound science, community involvement and habitat improvement measures” (Portt et al. 2004).  Included in this strategy are recovery initiatives for the eastern sand darter and five other fish species at risk.

Essex-Erie Recovery Strategy – The goal of the Essex-Erie Recovery Strategy is ”tomaintain and restore ecosystem quality and function in the Essex-Erie region in order to support viable populations of fish species at risk, across their current and former range”. Included in this strategy are recovery initiatives for the eastern sand darter and 17 other fish species at risk.

 iii) University graduate students (University of Waterloo and Trent University) are researching life history characteristics and conducting population and habitat modeling of southwestern Ontario eastern sand darters populations (2005-present).

 QuebecPopulations:

i)In 2006, an ichthyological inventory was conducted on species at risk in the Montérégie and Outaouais areas in order to corroborate the distribution of the eastern sand darter, channel darter and bridle shiner (Notropis bifrenatus).  This inventory targeted more precisely the drainage basins of the Châteauguay River in Montérégie and the Outaouais River in Outaouais.

ii) In 2005-2006, a study was conducted on the impact of the fall commercial bait fishing on five vulnerable fish species under the Species at Risk Act (copper redhorse, grass pickerel (Esox americanus vermiculatus), bridle shiner, eastern sand darter, channel darter) and a report was presented to DFO in cooperation with the Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune du Québecand the Société Provancher d’histoire naturelle du Canada (Boucher et al., 2006).

iii)In 2002, an ichthyological inventory was conducted on rare species (eastern sand darter, channel darter, bridle shiner) in the southern part of the Assomption River drainage basin in Launaudière area.  This inventory specifically targeted the Achigan, Assomption and Ouareau rivers.

1.7 Knowledge Gaps

In Canada, the eastern sand darter has never been thoroughly studied.  Knowledge gaps concerning this species can be attributed to its scarcity, small size, benthic and burrowing lifestyle as well as its translucency, which make the eastern sand darter rarely seen or caught.  The only available information on the species is mention of its capture and the description of its habitat at catch sites (Gaudreau 2005).  Knowledge acquisition on the biology, behaviour, adaptability as well as the species’ population dynamics and abundance in Canada is therefore critical to implement recovery measures in both Ontario and Quebec.  Furthermore, additional basic data regarding habitat needs, distribution areas (especially in Quebec) and threats to the species’ survival will be necessary in order to examine and monitor eastern sand darter population trends.