Gibson's Big Sand Tiger Beetle
Scientific Name: Cicindela formosa gibsoni
Taxonomy Group: Arthropods
COSEWIC Range: Alberta, Saskatchewan
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: November 2012
COSEWIC Status: Threatened
COSEWIC Status Criteria: E
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: This very restricted subspecies, with most of its populations in Canada, requires open sand dune areas. This habitat is declining throughout the Prairies as a result of a dune stabilization trend. Loss of historical ecological processes such as bison-induced erosion, fire, and activities of native people, as well as possible accelerators such as increase in atmospheric CO2, nitrogen deposition, and invasive alien plant species, may also be important factors in open sand reduction. There are believed to be fewer than 73 sites and a 10% possibility of extinction within 100 years based on rates of decline of open sand dunes.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Threatened in November 2012.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Threatened
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2018-02-02
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.
Gibson's Big Sand Tiger Beetle, Cicindela formosa gibsoni, is one of five subspecies of Cicindela formosa. It has long, narrow legs and antennae, large mandibles, and is one of the largest tiger beetles in North America. Adult Gibson's Big Sand Tiger Beetles can be distinguished from other subspecies of C. formosa by the expanded pale maculations covering over 60% of the elytra (hardened front wings) and bluish-green colour underneath. Like other species of Cicindela, the larvae are grub-like with an armoured head capsule and large mandibles. Nearly all of the Gibson's Big Sand Tiger Beetle’s range is found in Canada and they are emblematic of imperilled sand dune flora and fauna. Cicindela formosa and its subspecies are significant models for ecological and evolutionary studies. [Updated by COSEWIC - Nov. 2012]
Distribution and Population
The global distribution of the Gibson's Big Sand Tiger Beetle is centred on southwestern Saskatchewan with two small disjunct populations in Colorado and Montana. Its Canadian distribution is associated with large dune complexes particularly the Great Sand Hills, Pike Lake and Dundurn sand hills near Saskatoon, and the Elbow Sand Hills near Douglas Provincial Park. The western edge of its range is in the Empress Sand Hills along the Alberta/Saskatchewan border. Population size is unknown but may be declining due to declining habitat. Gibson's Big Sand Tiger Beetle has been recorded from 20-25 sites in Saskatchewan and adjacent Alberta, but population estimates are not available for most sites. [Updated by COSEWIC - Nov. 2012]
Preferred adult and larval habitat is sparsely vegetated, dry, sandy areas of blowouts, sand hills, and the margins of larger sand dunes. This open sandy habitat has declined due to dune stabilization over the past several decades and further declines are projected. [Updated by COSEWIC - Nov. 2012]
Like other tiger beetles, the Gibson's Big Sand Tiger Beetle undergoes complete metamorphosis with an egg, larval, pupal, and adult stage. In Canada, their life span is three years, with two years spent in the larval stage. Gibson's Big Sand Tiger Beetles are predators in both the adult and larval stages. Adults are active during the day hunting small arthropods. Larvae reside in a vertical tunnel with a small pit-like opening at its mouth. They are active during the day and night and ambush ants and other small arthropods that fall into their tunnel. [Updated by COSEWIC - Nov. 2012]
The main threat to Gibson's Big Sand Tiger Beetle in Canada is the loss of suitable habitat due to continued stabilization of dunes by vegetation. The sand dunes with which it is associated in Canada are derived from glacial deposits, which have been stabilizing with vegetation during the last 200 years or so. Less than 1% of the dunes within the Canadian range of Gibson's Big Sand Tiger Beetle are currently bare sand. [Updated by COSEWIC - Nov. 2012]
The Gibson's Big Sand Tiger Beetle 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
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.
7 record(s) found.
- COSEWIC Status Reports (1 record(s) found.)
- Response Statements (1 record(s) found.)
- Orders (2 record(s) found.)
- COSEWIC Annual Reports (1 record(s) found.)
- Consultation Documents (1 record(s) found.)
- Related Information (1 record(s) found.)
COSEWIC Status Reports
Response Statement - Gibson's Big Sand Tiger Beetle (2013-12-18)This very restricted subspecies, with most of its populations in Canada, requires open sand dune areas. This habitat is declining throughout the Prairies as a result of a dune stabilization trend. Loss of historical ecological processes such as bison-induced erosion, fire, and activities of native people, as well as possible accelerators such as increase in atmospheric CO2, nitrogen deposition, and invasive alien plant species, may also be important factors in open sand reduction. There are believed to be fewer than 73 sites and a 10% possibility of extinction within 100 years based on rates of decline of open sand dunes.
COSEWIC Annual Reports
COSEWIC Annual Report – 2012-2013 (2013-09-24)Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to “assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species”. COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings in this reporting year (October, 2012 to September 2013) from November 25 to November 30, 2012 and from April 28 to May 3, 2013. During the current reporting period, COSEWIC assessed the status or reviewed the classification of 73 wildlife species. The wildlife species assessment results for the 2012-2013 reporting period include the following: Extinct: 0 Extirpated: 2 Endangered: 28 Threatened: 19 Special Concern: 19 Data Deficient: 4 Not at Risk: 1 Total: 73 Of the 73 wildlife species examined, COSEWIC reviewed the classification of 50 species that had been previously assessed. The review of classification for 26 of those species resulted in a confirmation of the same status as the previous assessment.