Species Profile

Coastrange Sculpin Cultus Lake population

Scientific Name: Cottus aleuticus
Other/Previous Names: Cultus Pygmy Sculpin ,Coastrange Sculpin ,Coastrange Sculpin (Cultus population)
Taxonomy Group: Fishes
COSEWIC Range: British Columbia
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: November 2019
COSEWIC Status: Endangered
COSEWIC Status Criteria: B1ab(iii)+2ab(iii)
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: This small-bodied freshwater fish is found in a single lake that drains into the lower Fraser River, in southwestern British Columbia. This area is undergoing increasing urbanization and recreational use. Every night, this unique population migrates from the lake bottom toward the lake surface to feed. A recent introduction of an exotic predator, Smallmouth Bass, is a serious concern to the long term persistence of the sculpin. The species is also threatened by the cumulative impacts of aquatic invasive species, water pollution (eutrophication) and climate change. These threats reduce sculpin habitat by reducing oxygen in deep waters, and reducing surface water habitat due to increased predation from Smallmouth Bass.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Special Concern in April 1997. Status re-examined and designated Threatened in November 2000 and in April 2010. Status re-examined and designated Endangered in November 2019.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Threatened
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 Initiatives | Recovery Team | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Coastrange Sculpin

Coastrange Sculpin Photo 1

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Description

The Coastrange Sculpin (Cultus Population) is also known as the Cultus Pygmy Sculpin. This species is most likely a postglacially derived form of the Coastrange Sculpin. Cultus Lake was only accessible to fish colonization eight to ten thousand years ago. Thus, the Cultus Pygmy Sculpin represents an example of rapid and possibly ongoing evolution. The species is particularly interesting because similar forms have also evolved in two Washington State lakes. The Cultus Pygmy Sculpin is a small fish that reaches a maximum length of 50 millimetres. The top of its body is brown to grey with dark blotches, while the bottom is nearly white. Spawning males are darker with an orange band on the first dorsal fin. Two to four dark saddle-like blotches are found under its second dorsal fin. Adult fins have pigments, usually shaped like bars. The species is morphologically and ecologically different from other Coastrange Sculpin. Specifically, the fish are smaller, retain larval behaviours, and live in open water habitat. (Updated 2017/07/19)

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Distribution and Population

This small fish is found only in Cultus Lake, British Columbia, Canada. Cultus Lake is a low-elevation montane lake that drains into the Vedder River, a tributary of the Lower Fraser River. The lake is 41.8 metres deep and has a surface area of 6.3 square kilometres. The Cultus Pygmy Sculpin appears to be common; however, the population size is unknown. (Updated 2017/07/19)

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Habitat

The Cultus Pygmy Sculpin is restricted to the offshore habitat of Cultus Lake. Direct spawning of the species has not been observed. It is believed to take place in deeper waters of the lake or on shoals near inlet creeks. As adults, Cultus Pygmy Sculpin continue their larval behaviour of migrating into surface waters at night. (Updated 2017/07/19)

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Biology

Female Cultus Pygmy Sculpin probably mature at age three. Males mature one year earlier than females. Spawning is believed to occur from late May until September. Little is known about the species’ reproductive cycle. Its lifespan is thought to be four years. Based on behavior of similar species, it is assumed that Cultus Pygmy Sculpin lay egg masses under cobbles or small stones at the bottom of the lake. They are then guarded by males of the species. The events following the emergence of newly hatched fry are not known. Cultus Pygmy Sculpin feed on plankton. They are preyed upon by salmonids in Cultus Lake. (Updated 2017/07/19)

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Threats

The species’ limited range makes it very vulnerable to threats. Any change to the Cultus Lake ecosystem could threaten the species. Local threats to the Cultus Pygmy Sculpin include invasive species, changing trends in predator and competitor populations, water quality, water use, water-oriented recreation, and land use. Invasive species could threaten the Cultus Pygmy Sculpin through competition for food, direct predation, or habitat modification. The species is currently preyed on by several fish species in the lake. There is a concern that predation rates could be altered through stocking or enhancement. Stocking could potentially result in greater predation or competition pressure, depending on the species. Pollution from recreation and land use is also a concern for the species. These activities can cause decreases in water quality and degradation of aquatic habitat. Climate change and its effects on precipitation, water flow, and temperature may threaten the Cultus Pygmy Sculpin. (Updated 2017/07/19)

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Protection

Federal Protection

The Coastrange Sculpin, Cultus Lake population, 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 Initiatives

Status of Recovery Planning

Recovery Strategies :

Name Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy for Cultus Pygmy Sculpin (Cottus sp.) in Canada
Status Final posting on SAR registry

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Recovery Team

Pacific Region Species at Risk Program - Coastrange Sculpin (Cultus Population)

  • DFO Pacific Region - MPO région du Pacifique - Chair/Contact - Fisheries and Oceans Canada
     Send Email

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Recovery Progress and Activities

The Cultus Pygmy Sculpin was assessed as Threatened by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada in 2000 and listed under the Species at Risk Act in 2003. The species’ status was reassessed and confirmed in 2010. A Recovery Strategy and an Action Plan have been developed for the species. The documents outline ways to support the Cultus Pygmy Sculpin population in the wild. Studies have been conducted to learn more about the species’ habitat use, life stages, and abundance. The species has also probably benefited from several educational activities to increase public environmental awareness of Cultus Lake. (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.

20 record(s) found.

Reports on the Progress of Recovery Document Implementation

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Coastrange Sculpin (Cottus aleuticus) Cultus Lake population in Canada (2020-10-21)

    This small-bodied freshwater fish is found in a single lake that drains into the lower Fraser River, in southwestern British Columbia. This area is undergoing increasing urbanization and recreational use. Every night, this unique population migrates from the lake bottom toward the lake surface to feed. A recent introduction of an exotic predator, Smallmouth Bass, is a serious concern to the long-term persistence of the sculpin. The species is also threatened by the cumulative impacts of aquatic invasive species, water pollution (eutrophication) and climate change. These threats reduce sculpin habitat by reducing oxygen in deep waters, and reducing surface water habitat due to increased predation from Smallmouth Bass. Note: This COSEWIC assessment was received by the Minister on September 2, 2020.
  • COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Coastrange Sculpin Cottus aleuticus, Cultus Population in Canada (2010-09-03)

    The Coastrange Sculpin (Cultus Population) is a population of vertically migrating, pygmy Coastrange Sculpin that inhabits the offshore habitat of Cultus Lake, southwestern British Columbia. Their general appearance is typical of Coastrange Sculpin; the head is broad and flat and the body tapers gradually to a moderately deep, laterally compressed tail section. There are two dorsal fins and the pectoral fins are large and fan-like. The Coastrange Sculpin (Cultus Population) differ from typical Coastrange Sculpin in several traits including a smaller maximum size, the nighttime use of surface water habitat into adulthood, a longer spawning period, and several differences in morphology.
  • COSEWIC Status Report on the Cultus Pygmy Sculpin (Cottus sp.) in Canada (2000-11-30)

    The Cultus Pygmy Sculpin (Cottus sp.) is a limnetic population of minute cottids that has apparently evolved from Cottus aleuticus and appear to be endemic to the deep waters of Cultus Lake in the Fraser River watershed of southwestern British Columbia.

COSEWIC Assessments

  • COSEWIC Assessment Summary and Status Report: Coastrange Sculpin - Cultus Population, Cottus aleuticus (2010-09-03)

    Assessment Summary – April 2010 Common name Coastrange Sculpin - Cultus Population Scientific name Cottus aleuticus Status Threatened Reason for designation This species is a small Canadian endemic freshwater fish found in a single lake in the lower mainland region of southwestern British Columbia, an area undergoing sustained and rapid urbanization. The lake is heavily used by recreationists and drains into the lower Fraser River area where many invasive species are well-established. Trends in indices of abundance suggest a persistent decline and the single location makes the species particularly vulnerable should either habitat quality decline or vertebrate invasive species become established in the lake. Occurrence British Columbia Status history Designated Special Concern in April 1997. Status re-examined and designated Threatened in November 2000 and in April 2010. Please note that the related COSEWIC Status Report is available below in PDF format. You will be asked to provide your e-mail address then you will receive a link to download the publication. After processing, your email address is not retained in any way and is automatically discarded by our system.

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Coastrange Sculpin, Cultus Lake population (2020-12-02)

    This small-bodied freshwater fish is found in a single lake that drains into the lower Fraser River, in southwestern British Columbia. This area is undergoing increasing urbanization and recreational use. Every night, this unique population migrates from the lake bottom toward the lake surface to feed. A recent introduction of an exotic predator, Smallmouth Bass, is a serious concern to the long term persistence of the sculpin. The species is also threatened by the cumulative impacts of aquatic invasive species, water pollution (eutrophication) and climate change. These threats reduce sculpin habitat by reducing oxygen in deep waters, and reducing surface water habitat due to increased predation from Smallmouth Bass.
  • Response Statement - Coastrange Sculpin, Cultus population (2010-12-02)

    This species is a small Canadian endemic freshwater fish found in a single lake in the lower mainland region of southwestern British Columbia, an area undergoing sustained and rapid urbanization. The lake is heavily used by recreationists and drains into the lower Fraser River area where many invasive species are well-established. Trends in indices of abundance suggest a modest decline and the single location makes the species particularly vulnerable should either habitat quality decline or vertebrate invasive species become established in the lake.

Recovery Strategies

  • Recovery Strategy for Cultus Pygmy Sculpin (Cottus sp.) in Canada (2007-10-04)

    The Cultus pygmy sculpin was first identified in 1934 and most of what is known about it comes from a single paper, published by Ricker in 1960. It was described as a dwarf form of the coastrange sculpin, Cottus aleuticus. The Cultus pygmy sculpin shares many physical features of the coastrange sculpin and of sculpins in general, but there are also important differences in morphology and ecology, most importantly small body size, retention of larval features, and a limnetic existence. Observed diets of plankton corroborate the findings of limnetic life history, but other details of habitat use are not known.

Action Plans

  • Action Plan for the Cultus Pygmy Sculpin (Cottus aleuticus, Cultus Population) in Canada (2017-04-12)

    Cultus Pygmy Sculpin (Cottus aleuticus-Cultus Population) is a small Canadian endemic freshwater fish found only in Cultus Lake and is listed as Threatened on Schedule 1 of SARA.  Cultus Lake is located in the lower mainland region of southwestern British Columbia which is an area undergoing sustained and rapid urbanization.  The Cultus Pygmy Sculpin shares many physical features of the Coastrange Sculpin (Cottus aleuticus) and of sculpins in general, but there are also important differences in morphology and ecology, most importantly small body size, retention of larval features, and a limnetic existence.  Abundance of the Cultus Pygmy Sculpin is unknown with the 2007 Recovery Strategy for Cultus Pygmy Sculpin (Cottus sp.) in Canada noting there may be a slight downward trend in abundance based on limited incidental catch data from Sockeye Salmon trawls (National Recovery Team Cultus Pygmy Sculpin (NRTCPS) 2007).  Cultus Lake is heavily used by recreationists and drains into the lower Fraser River area where many invasive species are well established.  The species is vulnerable to habitat quality decline and invasive species establishing in the lake.

Orders

  • Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act (volume 146, number 14, 2012) (2012-07-04)

    The purpose of the Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act is to add 18 species to Schedule 1, the List of Wildlife Species at Risk (the List), and to reclassify 7 listed species, pursuant to subsection 27(1) of SARA. This amendment is made on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment based on scientific assessments by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and on consultations with governments, Aboriginal peoples, stakeholders and the Canadian public.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2010 (2010-09-03)

    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”. During the past year, COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings and reviewed the status of 79 wildlife species (species, subspecies, populations). During the meeting of November 2009, COSEWIC assessed or reviewed the classification of the status of 28 wildlife species. COSEWIC assessed or reviewed the classification of an additional 51 wildlife species (species, subspecies and populations) during their April 2010 meeting. For species already found on Schedule 1 of SARA, the classification of 32 species was reviewed by COSEWIC and the status of the wildlife species was confirmed to be in the same category (extirpated - no longer found in the wild in Canada but occurring elsewhere, endangered, threatened or of special concern). The wildlife species assessment results for the 2009-2010 reporting period include the following: Extirpated: 6 Endangered: 39 Threatened: 16 Special Concern: 17 Data Deficient: 1 This report transmits to the Minister the status of 46 species newly classified as extirpated, endangered, threatened or of special concern, fulfilling COSEWIC’s obligations under SARA Section 24 and 25. A full detailed summary of the assessment for each species and the reason for the designation can be found in Appendix I of the attached report. Since its inception, COSEWIC has assessed 602 wildlife species in various risk categories, including 262 Endangered, 151 Threatened, 166 Special Concern and 23 Extirpated. In addition, 13 wildlife species have been assessed as Extinct. Also, to date, 46 wildlife species have been identified by COSEWIC as Data Deficient and 166 wildlife species were assessed as Not at Risk. This year has been a particularly productive year for COSEWIC’s Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge (ATK) Subcommittee. In April 2010 COSEWIC approved the Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge Process and Protocol Guidelines, providing clear and agreed principles for the gathering of Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge to carry out COSEWIC functions as required under Section 15(2) of SARA (See Appendix III of the attached report). We are grateful for the rich and enthusiastic contribution made by community elders and experts in helping the ATK Subcommittee prepare the ATK protocols.
  • COSEWIC Annual Report 2019 to 2020 (2020-09-02)

    Over the past year COSEWIC assessed a total of 21 wildlife species, none of which were assigned a status of Not at Risk. Of these 21, COSEWIC re-examined the status of nine wildlife species; of these, 44% were reassessed at the same or lower level of risk. To date and with the submission of this report, COSEWIC’s assessments now include 810 wildlife species in various risk categories including 363 Endangered, 190 Threatened, 235 Special Concern, and 22 Extirpated (i.e. no longer found in the wild in Canada). In addition, 19 wildlife species have been assessed as Extinct, 59 wildlife species have been designated as Data Deficient, and 198 have been assessed as Not at Risk.

Permits and Related Agreements

  • Explanation for issuing permit(#21-PPAC-00004 ), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2021-03-15)

    The activities authorized by this permit consist of: 1. Monthly capture of Coastrange Sculpin (Cultus population) using minnow traps set on vertically suspended lines. 2. For captured Coastrange Sculpin (Cultus population), measurement of length, weight, and body condition. 3. For up to 30 Coastrange Sculpin (Cultus population) captured during spring sampling, retention and transfer to the Fisheries and Oceans Canada Cultus Lake Lab for three consecutive in lab non-lethal hypoxia behaviour experiments, followed by euthanasia. 4. Recovery from handling of Coastrange Sculpin (Cultus population) followed by release at point of capture for all individuals not retained for lab experiments. 5. Monthly sampling of 5-10 cm of sediment in Coastrange Sculpin (Cultus population) habitat using ponar grabs. Activities are valid in the following locations: 1. Cultus Lake, City of Chilliwack 2. DFO Cultus Lake Lab, Municipality of Cultus Lake
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#DFO-16-PPAC-00017), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2016-09-01)

    Activities consist of the following: a) minnow trap surveys in fall 2016 and spring 2017 at depths of 5-40 metres to inform distribution and habitat use of Cultus Pygmy Sculpin, b) midwater trawl surveys in fall 2016 and spring 2017 at depths of 20-30 metres to supply Cultus Pygmy Sculpin for gastric lavage, c) measurements of Cultus Pygmy Sculpin captured from activity (a) using a fish board, followed by full recovery and release, and d) anaesthesia of Cultus Pygmy Sculpin captured from activity (b) using MS-222 (tricaine methanesulfonate) followed by non-lethal gastric lavage of up to 10 individuals each in fall 2016 and spring 2017, followed by full recovery and release.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#DFO-PAF SARA 234), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2012-01-01)

    Authorized representatives of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans will carry out a mid-water trawl, minnow-trapping events and conduct a lethal collection of 10 Cultus Pygmy Sculpin in order to develop a index of abundance, describe a diel distribution in the water column, assess the target strength, document the over-winter distribution of CPS and analyze the over-winter diet and conduct a detailed morphological analysis of Cultus Pygmy Sculpin. The ultimate goal of the activities is to assist in the recovery of this species by improving the information level on Cultus Pygmy Sculpin and contribute to the overall species recovery goal. This is consistent with addressing the knowledge gap mentioned in the Recovery Strategy document (2007). As well, it lays down the groundwork for the development and implementation of long term monitoring program, as proposed in the draft Action Plan document. Activities will have minimal effects on this species at risk as per the pre-conditions outlined below.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#DFO-PAF SARA 338), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2014-09-10)

    Authorized representatives of Fisheries and Oceans will capture Cultus Pygmy Sculpin and run various experiments in order to collect data on the species. The ultimate goal of the activities is to assist in the recovery of this species by collecting data on spatial distribution, diet, and habitat preference.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#DFO-PAF SARA 373), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2015-06-09)

    Authorized representatives of Fisheries and Oceans Canada will carry out presence absence surveys of Cultus Lake pygmy sculpin in order to collect seasonal spatial distribution and diet data. The ultimate goal of the activities is to assist in the recovery of this species by understanding the relationship between the species and habitat.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#SECT 08 SCI 073), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2008-10-15)

    The objective of this study is to compare the behaviour and physiology of Cottus aleuticus collected from Frosst Creek with Cottus sp. collected from Cultus Lake. Minnow traps will be set along the bottom of Cultus Lake (between 30-40m depth). Live fish will be transported to the University of British Columbia, where they will be placed in tanks and maintained at a controlled temperature.

Critical Habitat Orders

  • Critical Habitat of the Coastrange Sculpin (Cottus aleuticus) Cultus Population Order (2019-01-09)

    The Coastrange Sculpin (Cottus aleuticus) Cultus population, hereafter referred to as the Cultus Pygmy Sculpin, is a small freshwater fish found only in Cultus Lake, a small lake located in the lower mainland region of southwestern British Columbia (BC). Available information on the abundance of Cultus Pygmy Sculpin is limited, but incidental catch data suggests a possible slight downward trend. In November 2000, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) assessed the status of the Cultus Pygmy Sculpin and classified the species as a threatened species. In June 2003, the Cultus Pygmy Sculpin was listed as threatened in Part 3 of Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act (SARA). In April 2010, COSEWIC re-examined and confirmed this assessment.

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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