Species Profile

Speckled Dace

Scientific Name: Rhinichthys osculus
Taxonomy Group: Fishes
COSEWIC Range: British Columbia
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: November 2016
COSEWIC Status: Endangered
COSEWIC Status Criteria: B1ab(iii)+2ab(iii)
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: This species reaches its northern limit in south central British Columbia where it is restricted to the Kettle River watershed. While the species has shown some resilience to the effects of drought, it is nevertheless threatened by a combination of low flows due to water extractions and climate change and to forestry and agricultural effluents.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Special Concern in April 1980. Status re-examined and designated Endangered in November 2002, April 2006, and in November 2016.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Endangered
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2009-03-05

Please note that this information is provided for general information purposes only. For the most up to date and accurate list of species listed under the Species at Risk Act, please see the Justice Laws Website.

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Image of Speckled Dace

Speckled Dace Photo 1

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Description

The Speckled Dace (Rhinichthys osculus) is a small minnow (51-94 mm in total length) with a robust elongate body. It is grey to brownish grey in colour with dark flecks. Most Speckled Dace in Canada are isolated above a 30.5 m high barrier at Cascade Falls, Columbia River drainage, British Columbia. Speckled Dace above the barrier can be differentiated from US populations by their absence of barbels and higher scale counts. The Speckled Dace exhibits a high degree of morphological, ecological and genetic variation across its range. Many subspecies and distinct populations are recognized in the US, and several of these isolated populations are listed at risk under the US Endangered Species Act. The Speckled Dace is one of the most abundant and widely distributed freshwater fish in the western US. In Canada, however, it reaches the northern limit of its range and exists as a peripheral and disjunct population. [Updated 22/01/2018]

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Distribution and Population

The Speckled Dace is restricted to western North America. It is found as far south as northern Mexico and as far north as south-central British Columbia. In Canada, it is confined to the Kettle River system (Kettle, West Kettle and Granby Rivers), where it occurs along a 275 km length of river. The most recent population estimate from 2010 indicated that approximately 940,000 mature individuals exist in Canada. No long-term studies have been conducted to determine population trends. [Updated 22/01/2018]

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Habitat

In Canada, Speckled Dace tends to inhabit shallow slow-moving waters, as well as riffles and runs, with coarse gravel, cobble or boulder substrates. Immature fish prefer the river margin, while adults typically inhabit deeper channel habitat. The Kettle River system is subject to extreme low flows both during the winter and late summer months. Peak flows occur from April through June following snowmelt. Summer surface water temperatures in the river system typically exceed 24°C and winter water temperatures fall below 0°C. [Updated 22/01/2018]

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Biology

Little information exists on the biology of Speckled Dace. It is believed to spawn in mid-July in Canada. Males begin breeding at 2+ years and females a year later. Depending on their size, mature females can produce between 400 and 2000 eggs. Newly hatched fry emerge in August and September. The lifespan of Speckled Dace in Canada appears to be over seven years, compared with a maximum of three to four years documented in the US. [Updated 22/01/2018]

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Threats

The entire Canadian range of the Speckled Dace is found within a single drainage system characterized by low flows. Most of the Canadian population is isolated above a natural barrier from all other populations. The main threats to Speckled Dace are a reduction in habitat size and quality as a result of water extraction and sedimentation from forestry activity. Climate change may exacerbate low flow conditions during periods of peak water demand. Several non-native fish (e.g., Smallmouth Bass, Micropterus dolomieu; Northern Pike, Esox lucius; Walleye, Sander vitreus) could pose competitive or predatory threats if they were to spread into the Kettle River system above Cascade Falls. [Updated 22/01/2018]

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Protection

Federal Protection

The Speckled Dace is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.

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Recovery Team

Pacific Region Species at Risk Program - Speckled Dace

  • DFO Pacific Region - MPO région du Pacifique - Chair/Contact - Fisheries and Oceans Canada
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Recovery Progress and Activities

In 2009, the Speckled Dace was listed as Endangered under the Species at Risk Act. Several recovery initiatives have taken place for this species since its listing. Research on Speckled Dace population, distribution and diet has been conducted. Studies were also done on habitat use, preferences and availability. The species will likely benefit from the recently launched Kettle River Watershed Management Plan. The plan uses models to inform decisions around water flow management. It also includes plans to manage riparian habitat. Provincial, regional and operational water management, drought management and fisheries management plans will likely benefit Speckled Dace as well. (Updated 2017/07/19)

Documents

PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

26 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Speckled Dace (2018-01-18)

    This species reaches its northern limit in south central British Columbia where it is restricted to the Kettle River watershed. While the species has shown some resilience to the effects of drought, it is nevertheless threatened by a combination of low flows due to water extractions and climate change and to forestry and agricultural effluents.
  • Response Statements - Speckled Dace (2004-04-21)

    A response statement is a communications document that identifies how the Minister of the Environment intends to respond to the assessment of a wildlife species by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The document provides a start to the listing and recovery process for those species identified as being at risk, and provides timelines for action to the extent possible.
  • Response Statements - Speckled Dace (2006-11-29)

    The species is restricted to the Kettle River mainstem and two main tributaries in southcentral British Columbia where it appears to be limited by the availability of suitable habitat.  As this population is isolated above Cascade Falls, it cannot be rescued from downstream United States populations. The Kettle River is a flow-sensitive system that appears to be experiencing increasing frequency of drought conditions. The species is threatened by these reduced water flows and projected increasing water demands. 

Recovery Strategies

  • Recovery Strategy for the Speckled Dace (Rhinichthys osculus) in Canada (2018-05-01)

    The Speckled Dace (Rhinichthys osculus) is a small freshwater minnow. Within its Canadian range, Speckled Dace is a riverine fish that makes use of riffles, runs and pools, feeding off the bottom on algae and aquatic insects. While widely distributed in western North American rivers, the species is confined in Canada to a short section of the Columbia River drainage that includes the West Kettle, Kettle, and Granby Rivers. Recent field studies have confirmed a large and apparently robust population of Speckled Dace throughout its Canadian range, far in excess of previous estimates made prior to being listed as Endangered in Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA).

Action Plans

  • Action Plan for the Speckled Dace (Rhinichthys osculus) in Canada (2020-02-13)

    Speckled Dace is a small freshwater minnow that resides in the West Kettle, Kettle and Granby rivers within British Columbia, Canada. The small (51-94 millimetres (mm)) fish is characterized by an elongated body, prominent snout and sucker-like mouth. Speckled Dace is grey or brownish-grey with dark speckles and a light coloured belly. Its habitat consists of riffles, runs, pools and river margins with gravel, cobble and boulder substrates.

Orders

  • Order Acknowledging Receipt of the Assessments Done Pursuant to Subsection 23(1) of the Act (Volume 142, Number 13, 2008) (2008-06-25)

    This Order acknowledges receipt by the Governor in Council of the assessments of the status of 30 species made pursuant to paragraph 15(1)(a) and in accordance with subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC).
  • Order Acknowledging Receipt of the Assessments Done Pursuant to Subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act (2004-04-21)

    This Order acknowledges receipt by the Governor in Council of the assessments of the status of wildlife species done pursuant to subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The purpose of SARA is to prevent wildlife species from being extirpated or becoming extinct, to provide for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated, endangered or threatened as a result of human activity and to manage species of special concern to prevent them from becoming endangered or threatened.
  • Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act (volume 143, number 6, 2009) (2009-03-18)

    Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, pursuant to section 27 of the Species at Risk Act, hereby makes the annexed Order Amending Schedules 1 to 3 to the Species at Risk Act.
  • Order Amending Schedules 1 to 3 to the Species at Risk Act (volume 139, number 2, 2005) (2005-01-12)

    Schedule 1, the List of Wildlife Species at Risk of the Species at Risk Act (SARA), is amended by Order of the Governor in Council (GIC), on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, by the addition of 73 species. This Order is based on scientific assessments by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and follows consultations with provincial and territorial governments, Aboriginal peoples, stakeholders and the public, and analysis of costs and benefits to Canadians.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2003 (2003-10-01)

    May 2003 Annual Report to the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.
  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2006 (2006-08-30)

    2006 Annual Report to the The Minister of the Environment and the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.
  • COSEWIC Annual Report 2016 to 2017 (2017-10-24)

    Over the past year COSEWIC re-examined the status of 40 wildlife species; of these, the majority (78 %) were reassessed at the same or lower level of risk. Of a total of 73 species assessed 11 were assigned the status of Not at Risk (8 re-assessments and 3 new assessments). To date and with the submission of this report, COSEWIC’s assessments now include 735 wildlife species in various risk categories including 321 Endangered, 172 Threatened, 219 Special Concern and 23 Extirpated (i.e. - no longer found in the wild in Canada). In addition 16 species have been assessed as Extinct, 58 have been designated as Data Deficient and 186 were assessed and assigned Not at Risk status.

Permits and Related Agreements

  • Explanation for issuing permit(#19-HPAC-00098), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2019-02-22)

    The proposed works involve the construction of a revetment along approximately 265m of the right bank of the Kettle River in Grand Forks in response to bank erosion resulting from flooding. These works were reviewed and issued a Fisheries Act Authorization for Emergency Situations (19-HPAC-00110). The worksite will be isolated and a fish salvage and relocation of individuals will be undertaken prior to the onset of work activities. These activities may result in the capture of individuals during execution of methods to exclude fish from the work area. Speckled Dace (Rhinichthys osculus) have been identified within the watershed but the works are not within identified Critical Habitat or in the vicinity of identified Critical Habitat for Speckled Dace.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#19-HPAC-00310), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2019-07-11)

    The proposed activity is three days of habitat assessment and fish sampling within the Critical Habitat parcel designated for Speckled Dace (Rhinichthys osculus) in the West Kettle River. The survey will consist of minnow trapping in various habitat types, snorkel surveys, seine netting and detailed habitat assessments. The intention of the study is to assess habitat and fish use within the Critical Habitat parcel and to verify the current boundaries of the parcel. A second objective of the survey is to document spawning activity by Speckled Dace, which has not yet been observed or recorded in B.C. This survey is related to a proposed future project in the same area but this permit only relates to the proposed survey and habitat assessment.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#19-HPAC-00438 ), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2019-09-23)

    The activity involves upgrade works to an existing bridge over the West Kettle River. The works comprise of replacing dolphin piles, dolphin pile sheathing, and installing additional bridge pier components. Prior to pile installation, if water depths are less than 0.6m and flows allow for safe installation, a fish isolation fence will be installed around the piling area and electrofishing techniques will be used to salvage individuals from the isolation area. If the water depths are too high to set up the isolation and conduct electrofishing safely, a fish scare will be conducted using electrofishing techniques to ensure that no individuals are in the substrates surrounding the piles prior to installation. These activities may result in capture of individuals during execution of methods to exclude fish from the work area. Speckled Dace (Rhinichthys osculus) are known to be present in the work areas but the works are not within the identified Critical Habitat or in the vicinity of identified Critical Habitat for Speckled Dace.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#20-HPAC-00476 ), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2020-08-01)

    The activities involve erosion protection works to the east and west abutments of the Blythe Road bridge, which spans West Kettle River in Westbridge, British Columbia. A temporary work pad will be established for an excavator to re-grade and armour the bank at the bridge abutments on either side of the crossing. Old log cribbing will be removed from the west abutment and metal cladding on the east abutment bridge piles will be replaced. Works are located within the distribution range of Speckled Dace (Rhyniscthys osculus). A permit was issued to allow for the capture and handling of Speckled Dace during fish salvage. Captured Speckled Dace individuals will be transported in buckets of freshwater and released upstream of the work area. Fish deterrence and avoidance measures may be used as an alternative to fish capture at the east abutment site if full site isolation is not possible. Deterrence measures may include tapping the water with the excavator bucket excavator to disperse fish from the work area prior to excavation and riprap placement.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#20-PPAC-00007 ), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2020-04-06)

    The activities authorized by this permit consist of: 1) Trapping for Speckled Dace in Kettle River using minnow traps; 2) Seining for Speckled Dace in Kettle River using beach seines and pole seines; 3) Anaesthetizing and finclipping up to 10 Speckled Dace before recovery and release to point of capture; 4) Euthanizing up to 10 Speckled Dace as voucher specimens for genetic assessment; 5) Transporting fin clips and voucher specimens to Fisheries and Oceans Canada's Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo, British Columbia.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#DFO-16-PPAC-00019), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2016-10-17)

    Activities consist of the following: a) setting up a barrier net at each site in the West Kettle, Kettle and Granby rivers, b) capturing fish using up to three passes of pole seining within the barrier net, c) anesthesia using MS-222 (tricaine methanosulfonate), d) measuring length on a fish measuring board, e) full recovery in a holding container filled with fresh stream water, and f) releasing Speckled Dace directly downstream of the barrier net. The activities are to occur in October 2016 within proposed critical habitat reaches in order to estimate population levels of Speckled Dace.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#DFO-17-PPAC-00025), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2017-10-15)

    Activities consist of the following: a) setting up a barrier net at each site in the West Kettle, Kettle and Granby rivers, b) capturing fish using up to three passes of pole seining within the barrier net, c) anesthesia of Speckled Dace using MS-222 (tricaine methanosulfonate), d) measuring fish length on a fish measuring board, e) full recovery in a holding container filled with fresh stream water, and f) releasing Speckled Dace directly downstream of the barrier net. The activities are to occur within proposed critical habitat reaches in order to estimate population levels of Speckled Dace.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#DFO-PAF SARA 181), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2010-06-16)

    Authorized representatives of the Ministry of Environment will conduct non-lethal fish sampling in the above watersheds in order to define habitat preferences vs. available habitat of Speckled dace and chiselmouths. An ultimate goal of the activities is to assist in the recovery of Speckled dace by increasing knowledge of habitat use.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#DFO-PAF SARA 386), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2015-10-19)

    Capture, anesthetization, measurement, and release of Speckled Dace to estimate population levels.

Consultation Documents

  • Legal Listing Consultation Workbook- Speckled Dace, Okanagan Chinook and Northern Fur Seal (2007-01-16)

    Your opinion is being sought to assist the government of Canada in making an informed decision on whether to add the Speckled Dace, Chinook Salmon (Okanagan population) and Northern Fur Seal to the Schedule 1 (the List of Wildlife Species at Risk) of the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Your input on the impacts of adding these species to the List is important. This workbook has been developed to give you an opportunity to provide Fisheries and Oceans Canada with your feedback, advice, and other comments regarding adding these species to Schedule 1 of SARA (Schedule 1 identifies which species are legally protected under SARA).
  • Species at Risk Act - Legal Listing of Aquatic Species, Pacific Region - Consultation Workbook (2004-03-17)

    Your opinion is being sought to assist the government of Canada in making an informed decision on whether to add any or all of the following 10 aquatic species to the Schedule 1 (the List of Wildlife Species at Risk) of the Species at Risk Act (SARA). The species include: Blue Whale, Sei Whale, Humpback Whale, Enos Lake Stickleback, Speckled Dace, Salish Sucker, Cultus Lake Sockeye, Interior Fraser Coho, Sakinaw Lake Sockeye, and Bocaccio. Your input on the impacts of adding these species to the List is important. This workbook has been developed to give you an opportunity to provide Fisheries and Oceans Canada with your feedback, advice, and other comments regarding adding the above mentioned 10 species to Schedule 1 of SARA (Schedule 1 identifies which species are legally protected under SARA).

Critical Habitat Orders

  • Critical Habitat of the Speckled Dace (Rhinichthys osculus) Order: SOR/2018-218 (2018-11-14)

    The Speckled Dace (Rhinichthys osculus) is a small freshwater fish that is widely distributed in rivers throughout western North America. In Canada, Speckled Dace occurs only in a short section of the Columbia River drainage in the Kootenay Boundary regional district of British Columbia. While this species is moderately abundant, its distribution in Canada is very restricted, suggesting that the Speckled Dace will continually be at some risk.

Recovery Document Posting Plans

  • Recovery Document Posting Plan - Fisheries and Oceans Canada - Fiscal Year 2016-2017 (2018-09-28)

    Under the Species at Risk Act (SARA), the competent Minister(s) must prepare a recovery strategy within one year of listing a species on Schedule 1 of SARA as endangered and within two years of listing a species as extirpated or threatened. A management plan must be prepared within three years for a species listed as special concern. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is accountable for 111 of the 518 species listed under SARA. As of February 2016, proposed recovery strategies, management plans and action plans for 57 of those species have not yet been posted to the Species at Risk Public Registry. An additional 23 aquatic species have proposed management or action plans coming due in the future. The following outlines the Department’s plan for posting proposed documents for 64 species on the Species at Risk Public Registry. The Department has a plan to post recovery strategies for 9 species, management plans for 13 species, and action plans for 42 species over the next year. Original publication of the Recovery Document Posting Plan: 2016-05-02
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