Species Profile

Warmouth

Scientific Name: Lepomis gulosus
Taxonomy Group: Fishes
COSEWIC Range: Ontario
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: May 2015
COSEWIC Status: Endangered
COSEWIC Status Criteria: B1ab(iii)+2ab(iii)
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: This species of sunfish has a very small distribution in Canada, occurring only within the Lake Erie drainage. It exists at few locations and is subjected to continuing decline in habitat quality due to a complexity of ecosystem modifications to its preferred vegetated habitat, primarily from the establishment of dense beds of non-native aquatic plants and eutrophication resulting from agricultural runoff.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Special Concern in April 1994. Status re-examined and confirmed in November 2001 and in May 2005. Status re-examined and designated Endangered in May 2015.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Special Concern
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2003-06-05

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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Quick Links: | Photo | Description | Distribution and Population | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | Recovery Team | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Warmouth

Warmouth Photo 1

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Description

This small sunfish rarely exceeds 310 mm in length and reaches only 234 g in weight. It resembles Rock Bass and Green Sunfish. It possesses fewer anal spines (three versus six) than Rock Bass. It is distinguished from the Green Sunfish by the many teeth on its tongue and the dark lines radiating across its cheeks from snout and eye. The body is egg-shaped and compressed, and is broader than the bodies of most other sunfish. The mouth is large with a projecting lower jaw. Its back is olive-yellow to brassy or muddy brown. The colour changes to yellow or white below. Darker markings on its sides resemble vertical bands. Young Warmouth have heavy stippling on the head and six or seven dark vertical bands extending from mid-back to abdomen.

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Distribution and Population

The Warmouth is a common and widespread fish in the eastern United States. It is an introduced species in Canada, discovered in southwestern Ontario in 1966. In Canada it is only known from two locations on the north shore of Lake Erie.Eight specimens were taken from Rondeau Bay between 1966 and 1968. Fifty-three specimens were collected at Point Pelee between 1983 and 1989. All but nine specimens were released alive. Recent sampling has confirmed that the species is extant at both locations: in 1997 13 specimens were captured at Point Pelee, and in 1999 two individuals were captured from Rondeau Bay. Ontario populations are considered pioneering colonies resulting from natural dispersion, probably from Michigan. Their range may still be expanding. The species likely occurs at other sites in lakes Erie and St. Clair, but the fish has not been spotted by fisheries agencies.

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Habitat

The Warmouth prefers conditions similar to those preferred by other sunfish species. It typically occurs in deeper, open water of swamps. It occupies lakes lined with mud, silt or decayed organic matter, and sluggish streams and ponds. It has been captured at depths of 20 to 95 cm. Ontario specimens have been found with other warm-water species including Yellow Perch, Bowfin and Brown Bullhead.

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Biology

The Warmouth may spawn at one or two years of age. Spawning occurs in spring and early summer in the United States. Females lay between 800 to 34,000 eggs. Larger females produce more eggs. Eggs are laid over loose vegetation, rubble or debris. Maturity seems to be related more to size than to age. Adult size varies with latitude and food availability. Sizes range from 51 mm in Illinois to 102 mm in Georgia. Ontario Warmouth are mature when they reach about 50 mm. The adult diet includes small fish, crayfish and aquatic insects. Smaller individuals eat zooplankton, midges and caddisfly larvae. The species is solitary when not spawning, and does not form schools. It hybridizes successfully with many other sunfish species, including Rock Bass. The life expectancy is eight to nine years.

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Threats

The fact that this is a warm-water species may limit its distribution. Even so, southern Ontario provides abundant suitable habitat. Siltation, marsh and lake drainage have led to the species' decline in Illinois; so have other disruptions that destroy aquatic vegetation. Predators, including Largemouth Bass, and insufficient food sources, may act to limit population sizes.

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Protection

Federal Protection

The Warmouth 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.

The federal Fisheries Act prohibits destruction of fish habitat.

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

Essex-Erie Recovery Team

  • Shawn Staton - Chair/Contact - Fisheries and Oceans Canada
    Phone: 905-336-4864  Fax: 905-336-6437  Send Email

Ontario Freshwater Fish Recovery Team

  • Amy Boyko - Chair/Contact - Fisheries and Oceans Canada
    Phone: 905-336-6236  Fax: 905-336-6437  Send Email
  • Shawn Staton - Chair/Contact - Fisheries and Oceans Canada
    Phone: 905-336-4864  Fax: 905-336-6437  Send Email

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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.

21 record(s) found.

Reports on the Progress of Recovery Document Implementation

COSEWIC Status Reports

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Warmouth (2015-12-23)

    This species of sunfish has a very small distribution in Canada, occurring only within the Lake Erie drainage. It exists at few locations and is subjected to continuing decline in habitat quality due to a complexity of ecosystem modifications to its preferred vegetated habitat, primarily from the establishment of dense beds of non-native aquatic plants and eutrophication resulting from agricultural runoff.
  • Response Statements - Warmouth (2005-11-15)

    This species has a very restricted Canadian distribution, existing only at 4 locations along the Lake Erie shore between Point Pelee and Long Point. It is sensitive to habitat change which results in loss of aquatic vegetation.

Action Plans

  • Multi-species Action Plan for Point Pelee National Park of Canada and Niagara National Historic Sites of Canada (2016-07-05)

    The Multi-species Action Plan for Point Pelee National Park of Canada and the Niagara National Historic Sites of Canada applies to lands and waters occurring within the boundaries of the two sites: Point Pelee National Park of Canada (PPNP) and the Niagara National Historic Sites of Canada (NNHS). The NNHS is being used as a term to collectively refer to two locations in the Niagara region that consist of three National Historic Sites: Fort George National Historic Site, Battlefield of Fort George National Historic Site, and Butler’s Barracks National Historic Sites of Canada. The plan meets the requirements for action plans set out in the Species At Risk Act (SARA s.47) for species requiring an action plan and that regularly occur in these sites. Measures described in this plan will also provide benefits for other species of conservation concern that regularly occur at PPNP and at NNHS.

Management Plans

  • Management Plan for the Blackstripe Topminnow, Pugnose Minnow, Spotted Sucker and Warmouth in Canada (2009-10-19)

    In Canada, the Blackstripe Topminnow (Fundulus notatus), Pugnose Minnow (Opsopoeodus emiliae), Spotted Sucker (Minytrema melanops) and Warmouth (Lepomis gulosus) all occur in southwestern Ontario.  The Blackstripe Topminnow is found only in the Sydenham River and Lake St. Clair drainages and the Warmouth is found only in four areas of Lake Erie (Long Point Bay, Big Creek National Wildlife Area [Long Point region], Rondeau Bay and Point Pelee National Park). The Pugnose Minnow and Spotted Sucker are found in Lake St. Clair and its smaller tributaries, Lake Erie, the Detroit River, the Sydenham River and the Thames River. In addition, the Spotted Sucker is also found in the St. Clair River. All four species are listed as Special Concern and are on Schedule 1 of the federal Species at Risk Act.  As such, the Act requires that management plans be developed that identify management approaches for each species. Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Parks Canada Agency, in cooperation with the government of Ontario, have developed a single management plan to aid in the conservation and management of these four species.  In recognition of the degree of overlap between these species in their distribution, as well as the commonality of threats, a multi-species approach was adopted for the management of these species.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2005 (2005-08-12)

    2005 Annual Report to the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.
  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2014-2015 (2015-11-20)

    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, 2014 to September, 2015) from November 23 to November 28, 2014 and from April 27 to May 1, 2015. During the current reporting period, COSEWIC assessed the status or reviewed the classification of 56 wildlife species. The wildlife species assessment results for the 2014-2015 reporting period include the following: Extinct: 0 Extirpated: 1 Endangered: 21 Threatened: 11 Special Concern: 21 Data Deficient: 1 Not at Risk: 1 Total: 56 Of the 56 wildlife species examined, COSEWIC reviewed the classification of 40 that had been previously assessed. The review of classification for 24 of those wildlife species resulted in a confirmation of the same risk status as the previous assessment.

Permits and Related Agreements

  • Explanation for issuing permit(#DFO-CA SECT 73 SARA C&A 09-006), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2009-05-01)

    The purpose of the project is to conduct ecological surveys at 2 sites where proposed works involve the construction of municipal storm sewer outlets. Both project sites have been identified as potentially having fish and mussel SAR present. The Essex Region Conservation Authority (acting on behalf of DFO) and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment require a three season ecological survey all aquatic species (fish and invertebrate community survey) to determine if SAR are present in the proposed project area and assess potential ecological impacts from the proposed project.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#DFO-CA SECT 73 SARA C&A 09-007), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2009-04-29)

    The purpose of the project is to conduct comprehensive fish surveys to assess the current geographic distribution and habitat associations of fish SAR throughout southern Ontario. These surveys are designed to meet specific research requirements of various agencies and will yield significant information to contribute to species at risk recovery programs in Ontario.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#DFO-CA SECT 73 SARA C&A 12-016), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2012-05-29)

    The purpose of the permit is to conduct comprehensive fish surveys throughout the province of Ontario. These surveys are designed to meet specific research requirements of various agencies. They will yield significant information to contribute to species at risk recovery. This research will include assessing current geographic distribution and habitat associations of fish species at risk in Ontario.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#DFO-CA SECT 73 SARA C&A 09-014), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2009-06-01)

    Surveys for fish assessment are part of OMNR-LEMU core assessment programs that have been conducted annually in the Long Point Bay area of Lake Erie to monitor the status and characteristics of juvenile and adult fish species / communities since 1980. These fish assessment data series are among the longest, most continuous on Lake Erie, and provide valuable information for the management of Lake Erie fish stocks and fisheries.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#DFO-CA SECT 73 SARA C&A 10-015), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2010-05-13)

    The purpose of the project is to conduct comprehensive fish surveys to assess the current geographic distribution and habitat associations of fish SAR throughout southern Ontario.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#DFO-CA SECT 73 SARA C&A 10-019), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2010-07-20)

    The purposes of this project are 1) Monitoring the presence/absence of various species at risk in newly created open water habitat to determine the effectiveness of past habitat creation/restoration projects; and, 2) the creation of additional, quality habitat for both aquatic and terrestrial species at risk
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#SECT 04 SCI 007), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2004-08-20)

    Comprehensive fish community surveys will be carried out throughout the province of Ontario. These surveys will yield significant information to contribute to species at risk recovery in Ontario. This research will include assessing current geographic distribution and habitat associations of fish SAR in Ontario. Field sampling techniques include a combination of passive and active fish sampling gears. The proposed gear types are all non-lethal sampling methods developed to aid in the release of all captured fishes. Passive Sampling Gears include: Trap Nets, Hoopnets, Minnow Traps and Windermere Traps. Active Sampling Gears include: Boat Electrofishing, Boat Seining, Manual Bag Seine, Manual Straight Seine and Backpack Electrofishing.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#SECT 04 SCI 010), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2004-08-20)

    Study to assess methods used in the Agricultural Drains classification criteria. The work will consist of single pass electrofishing with one backpack electrofisher, followed by a single pass seining, where required. The upper end of the reach will be blocked by a net to prevent fish movement upstream during the survey to increase capture efficiency. Habitat assessment will be conducted from river banks. The likelihood of harm to species at risk (SAR) and impact to habitat is low. Capture of SAR is unlikely and if captured, the individuals will be photographed and returned to the area in which they were encountered. Any captured SAR will help to identify new habitat being used by species which may lead to further habitat protection.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#SECT 05 SCI 013), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2005-06-01)

    The objective of the research is to conduct a comprehensive survey of fish and mussel communities in Ontario in order to determine where different species are found and what types of habitat they require. The research includes individual studies concerning populations of specific protected species: Eastern Sand Darters, Pugnose Shiners, and Lake Chubsuckers.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#SECT 06 SCI 011), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2006-06-01)

    This research is a comprehensive survey of Ontario fish communities that will aid in the recovery of species at risk by assessing their current geographic distribution and habitat associations. This permit includes all the aquatic fish and mussel species listed for protection on Schedule 1 that are found in Ontario.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#SECT 08 SCI 021), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2008-05-01)

    The primary work is surveys for fish assessment to monitor the status and characteristics of juvenile and adult fish species and communities. The work will cover both the summer index gillnet survey in nearshore waters and the fall index trawl surveys in nearshore and offshore waters.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#SECT 08 SCI 029), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2008-05-16)

    The objective of the research is to conduct comprehensive fish surveys throughout the province of Ontario. This research will include assessing current geographic distribution and habitat associations of fish SAR in Ontario. Also included will be a radio-telemetry study of spotted gar to examine critical habitat and interactions with longnose gar.

Consultation Documents

  • Warmouth: Consultations on listing under SARA (2020-03-23)

    COVID-19 and the consultations on the listing of species at risk In light of the current Covid-19 pandemic, the 60-day public comment period on the Warmouth has been extended to 90 days to provide sufficient time for feedback. Information summary and survey for the consultations on potentially up-listing Warmouth on the List of Wildlife Species at Risk from Special Concern to Endangered.
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