Species Profile

Northern Riffleshell

Scientific Name: Epioblasma rangiana
Other/Previous Names: Epioblasma torulosa ,Epioblasma torulosa rangiana
Taxonomy Group: Molluscs
COSEWIC Range: Ontario
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: April 2010
COSEWIC Status: Endangered
COSEWIC Status Criteria: B1ab(iii)+2ab(iii)
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: This small freshwater mussel is restricted to two rivers in southern Ontario. Since the original COSEWIC assessment (2000), a small, possibly reproducing population was discovered in the Ausable River although only 16 live individuals, including one juvenile, have been found over the last 10 years. Recruitment is occurring at several sites along the Sydenham River and the population appears to be stable, but the perceived recovery could be due to increased sampling effort over the past 12 years. The main limiting factor is the availability of shallow, silt-free riffle habitat. Both riverine populations are in areas of intense agriculture and urban and industrial development, subject to siltation and pollution. Only four populations in the world, including the two in Canada, show signs of recruitment.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Endangered in April 1999. Status re-examined and confirmed in May 2000 and April 2010.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Endangered
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 Northern Riffleshell

Northern Riffleshell Photo 1

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Description

The Northern Riffleshell (Epioblasma torulosa rangiana) is one of Canada’s 54 freshwater mussel species. It is a rare, colourful, small-to-medium sized mussel with the following features: outside of shell is brownish-yellow to yellowish-green with diffuse, fine green rays; inside of shell (nacre) is white; shell is noticeably thicker in the front end, thinner in the back end; males are square-shaped, females are more oval; bottom edge of the shell (ventral margin) is indented in males and broadly rounded in females; raised part at the top of the shell (beak) is finely double-looped, raised above the hinge line and somewhat hollow; triangular teeth are small, elongated teeth are fairly short and thick; and adults vary in length from 4.5 to 7.5 centimeters.

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Distribution and Population

Historically, the mussel was found throughout the Ohio River system and in portions of the Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair drainages. It no longer occurs in Illinois or Indiana, and its range has been drastically reduced in all other areas. The current North American distribution represents a range reduction of more than 95%. In Canada, there are 20 known records for this rare subspecies, whose range once included western Lake Erie, Lake St. Clair and the Detroit and Sydenham rivers in Ontario. Now it is restricted to a 40 km reach of the Sydenham River, where it occurs in low densities. Although 20 years ago the Sydenham was described as having the healthiest extant population in North America, the mussel's abundance in the river may have declined by as much as 90% over the past 30 years.

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Habitat

The Northern Riffleshell is one of the last remaining members of the near-extinct genus Epioblasma; its range has been reduced in North America by 95 per cent over the last century. In Canada, it was once found in western Lake Erie, Lake St. Clair and the Detroit, Thames, Ausable, and Sydenham rivers, but is now restricted to a 91 kilometre reach of the East Sydenham River and a 44 kilometre reach of the Ausable River. However, the East Sydenham River population is one of only three known reproducing populations in the world and is considered the healthiest population of the Northern Riffleshell in Canada. The Northern Riffleshell lives in highly oxygenated riffle areas of rivers and streams on rocky and sandy bottoms (substrates) or firmly packed sand and fine-to-coarse gravel. It is a moderately long-lived, sexually dimorphic species (males and females look different from each other) with a lifespan of 15 years or more. Spawning likely occurs in late summer and the glochidia (larvae) are released the following spring. Like most other freshwater mussels, the glochidia are parasitic on fishes. In this case, the female Northern Riffleshell lures and grabs a host fish with her shell, releasing glochidia into the fish’s mouth. The glochidia then attach to the host fish as they flow through its gills. Here they will remain until they reach their juvenile, free-living stage and drop off onto the substrate below. Adults are essentially sessile and may move only a few metres along the substrate. The known host fishes for this mussel in Canada are the Blackside Darter, Logperch, Iowa Darter, Johnny Darter, Rainbow Darter, Brook Stickleback and Mottled Sculpin. Like all species of freshwater mussels, the Northern Riffleshell filters its food from the water. Bacteria and algae are its primary food sources.

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Biology

The life span of these mussels may exceed 15 years. Spawning occurs in late summer, but the glochidia (larvae) are not released until the following spring. When the glochidia are ready to be released, the female displays a spongy, pure white mantle lining that can be seen from several metres away and may function to attract potential fish hosts. Once expelled into the water by the female, the glochidia must attach to an appropriate fish host in order to complete their metamorphosis. The fish hosts for this subspecies are not known in Canada, but in the U.S., various species of darters and sculpins have been identified as hosts. Food preferences of the adult mussels are probably similar to those of other freshwater mussels, i.e., suspended organic particles such as detritus, bacteria and algae.

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Threats

Remaining Northern Riffleshell live in areas of intense municipal, industrial and agricultural development, making runoff pollution and siltation its major threats. Siltation, which can bury, smother and starve filter-feeding mussels, along with habitat disturbance and impoundment of dammed rivers, have likely already destroyed much of the habitat over the last century. More recently, the introduction and spread of the Zebra Mussel and Round Goby have devastated or eliminated Northern Riffleshell populations in the Great Lakes, though remaining East Sydenham and Ausable river populations are not yet threatened by this invasive species. Access to suitable host species may also threaten this species.

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Protection

Federal Protection

The Northern Riffleshell 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.

This mussel is also protected under the federal Fisheries Act, which 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 Initiatives

Status of Recovery Planning

Recovery Strategies :

Name Recovery Strategy for Northern Riffleshell (Epioblasma torulosa rangiana), Snuffbox (Epioblasma triquetra), Round Pigtoe (Pleurobema sintoxia), Mudpuppy Mussel (Simpsonaias ambigua) and Rayed Bean (Villosa fabalis) in Canada.
Status Final posting on SAR registry

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Recovery Team

Ontario Freshwater Mussel Recovery Team

  • Todd Morris - Chair/Contact - Fisheries and Oceans Canada
    Phone: 905-336-4734  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.

96 record(s) found.

Reports on the Progress of Recovery Document Implementation

  • Report on the Progress of Recovery Strategy Implementation for the Wavyrayed Lampmussel, Northern Riffleshell, Snuffbox, Round Pigtoe, Mudpuppy Mussel and Rayed Bean in Canada for the Period 2006–2011 (2013-06-11)

    As a result of the overlap in the historical and current ranges of the Wavyrayed Lampmussel, Northern Riffleshell, Snuffbox, Round Pigtoe, Salamander Mussel (formerly known as the Mudpuppy Mussel) and Rayed Bean, there is substantial commonality in threats to their continued survival. A key component in progress toward fulfilling recovery objectives has been the systematic collaboration with existing ecosystem recovery teams. This collaboration has taken the form of multiple research projects and stewardship teams that actively coordinate and monitor habitat improvement projects on the Ausable, Sydenham, Grand and Thames river systems, as well as Walpole Island. These collaborative efforts resulted in concrete progress in the form of habitat improvement and protection, and important biological insights of these species.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Northern Riffleshell Epioblasma torulosa rangiana in Canada (2010-09-03)

    The Northern Riffleshell is unmistakable among Canadian freshwater mussels because of its small to medium size (45 to 76 mm long) and extreme and unique sexual dimorphism. The brown-yellow to yellow-green shell has diffuse, fine green rays and is irregularly egg-shaped. The posterior end is broader in males. In females, the anterior end is broader and the shell is greatly expanded post-ventrally and swollen. In both sexes, the inner shell surface is pearly white or rarely pink.

COSEWIC Assessments

  • COSEWIC Assessment Summary and Status Report: Northern Riffleshell Epioblasma torulosa rangiana (2010-09-03)

    Assessment Summary – April 2010 Common name Northern Riffleshell Scientific name Epioblasma torulosa rangiana Status Endangered Reason for designation This small freshwater mussel is restricted to two rivers in southern Ontario. Since the original COSEWIC assessment (2000), a small, possibly reproducing population was discovered in the Ausable River although only 16 live individuals, including one juvenile, have been found over the last 10 years. Recruitment is occurring at several sites along the Sydenham River and the population appears to be stable, but the perceived recovery could be due to increased sampling effort over the past 12 years. The main limiting factor is the availability of shallow, silt-free riffle habitat. Both riverine populations are in areas of intense agriculture and urban and industrial development, subject to siltation and pollution. Only four populations in the world, including the two in Canada, show signs of recruitment. Occurrence Ontario Status history Designated Endangered in April 1999. Status re-examined and confirmed in May 2000 and 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 - Northern Riffleshell (2010-12-02)

    This small freshwater mussel is restricted to two rivers in southern Ontario. Since the original COSEWIC assessment (2000), a small, possibly reproducing population was discovered in the Ausable River although only 16 live individuals, including one juvenile, have been found over the last 10 years. Recruitment is occurring at several sites along the Sydenham River and the population appears to be stable, but the perceived recovery could be due to increased sampling effort over the past 12 years. The main limiting factor is the availability of shallow, silt-free riffle habitat. Both riverine populations are in areas of intense agriculture and urban and industrial development, subject to siltation and pollution. Only four populations in the world, including the two in Canada, show signs of recruitment.

Recovery Strategies

  • Recovery Strategy for Northern Riffleshell (Epioblasma rangiana), Snuffbox (Epioblasma triquetra), Round Pigtoe (Pleurobema sintoxia), Salamander Mussel (Simpsonaias ambigua) and Rayed Bean (Villosa fabalis) in Canada (2019-07-30)

    Freshwater mussels are among the world’s most imperiled taxa with declines reported on a global scale (Bogan 1993; Lydeard et al. 2004). The rich unionid fauna of North America has been hit particularly hard with over 70% of the approximately 300 species showing evidence of declines with many now considered rare, endangered, threatened or imperiled (Allan and Flecker 1993; Williams et al. 1993). Canada is home to 55 unionid species, 41 of which can be found in the province of Ontario with 18 species having Canadian distributions restricted to this province. The rivers of southwestern Ontario, primarily those draining into Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie, are home to the richest unionid assemblages in Canada. The Sydenham River has historically been considered to be the richest unionid river in all of Canada (Clarke 1992) with a total species count of 34 (Metcalfe-Smith et al. 2003), however, recent evidence suggests that the Grand (Metcalfe-Smith et al. 2000) and Thames rivers, also with historic species counts of 34, were equally diverse.

Action Plans

  • Action plan for the Ausable River in Canada: an ecosystem approach (2020-03-02)

    The Ausable River, located on the northern edge of the Carolinian Zone in southwestern Ontario, supports one of the most diverse and unique assemblages of aquatic fauna for a watershed of its size in Canada. At least 26 species of freshwater mussels and 85 species of fish have been found here. Many of these species are rare and 12 species, including six mussels and six fishes, have been assessed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada as Endangered, Threatened or Special Concern. The majority of these species are protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) and/or the Ontario Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA). Five freshwater mussels (Kidneyshell, Northern Riffleshell, Snuffbox, Mapleleaf and Rainbow) and three fishes (Eastern Sand Darter, Lake Chubsucker and Pugnose Shiner) are the focus of this Action Plan. The needs of these at risk fishes and mussels within the Ausable River watershed will be addressed using a multi-species, ecosystem-based approach. The present plan is guided by seven SARA recovery strategies for these eight species and builds on the draft ecosystem-based Ausable River Recovery Strategy that was developed (Shawn Staton, ARRT, unpublished, 2005).
  • Action Plan for the Sydenham River in Canada: An Ecosystem Approach (2018-05-24)

    The Sydenham River in southwestern Ontario supports an amazing diversity of aquatic life. Located in the lower Great Lakes basin, the river contains the greatest diversity of freshwater mussel species of any watershed in Canada. At least 34 species of mussels and 80 species of fishes have been found here. Many of these species are rare and seventeen species, including eleven mussels and six fishes, have been assessed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) as Endangered, Threatened or Special Concern. The majority of these species are protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) and seven freshwater mussels (Round Hickorynut, Kidneyshell, Northern Riffleshell, Snuffbox, Round Pigtoe, Rayed Bean and Salamander Mussel) and two fishes (Eastern Sand Darter – Ontario population and Northern Madtom) are the focus of this action plan. The needs of these at risk fishes and mussels within the Sydenham River watershed will be addressed using a multi-species, ecosystem-based approach. The present plan is guided by four SARA recovery strategies for these nine species and builds on the ecosystem-based Sydenham River Recovery Strategy completed in 2003.

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.

Permits and Related Agreements

  • Explanation for issuing permit(#-CA SECT 73 SARA C&A 09-012), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2009-05-29)

    The purpose of the project is to determine the sensitivity of the early life stages (glochidia) of endangered species of freshwater mussels to salt (NaCl and road salt).
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#17-PCAA-00001), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2017-03-10)

    The St. Clair Region Conservation Authority (SCRCA) is sampling fish and mussels in several locations for presence/absence data. Currently, fish and mussel data is lacking in these areas. Baseline data will be collected to assist in future project proposals and inquiries. Benthic sampling will be undertaken for watershed characterization to allow the SCRCA to assess water quality throughout the watershed. Data obtained will assist the SCRCA in the identification of potential rehabilitation sites and impact monitoring.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#17-PCAA-00009), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2017-04-10)

    The objective of the project is to conduct freshwater mussel surveys and monitoring in Central and Arctic Region. 1) Quantitative sampling - historical monitoring stations on the Thames and Maitland rivers will be revisited and sampling completed during the initial round of monitoring (2005) will be repeated; 2) Semi-quantitative sampling - sampling at Little Bear Creek and Walpole Island will be undertaken using habitat appropriate methods (wading, visual/tactile, searches, calm rakes, etc.); 3) Identification workshop - the workshop will take place in late June over a two-day period. The first day is a laboratory component working with preserved specimens. The second day is spent on-site at a location in the Sydenham River where attendees will develop and practise field identification skills under the guidance of experienced malacologists; 4) Genetic sampling - depending on which species are detected during sampling, it may be necessary to collect genetic samples for further analyses; 5) Depending on which species are found during sampling, it may be necessary to subsample to evaluate the reproductive state of individuals; and, 6) Tagging - when necessary some individuals may be tagged for future identification, using non-invasive tagging techniques.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#19-PCAA-00008), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2019-04-29)

    The objectives of the activities covered by this permit are: 1) To conduct quantitative and semi-quantitative surveys for species at risk mussels at sites at locations across southern Ontario to track changes in species and habitat over time, and evaluate recovery efforts; 2) To hold a mussel identification workshop in late June over a two-day period. The second day will be spent at a site on the Sydenham River where attendees will practice field identification skills under guidance of experienced malacologists; 3) Depending on species detected during qualitative and semi-quantitative sampling, to obtain genetic samples for further analyses, and to evaluate reproductive condition of animals found; 4) To conduct a morphometric analyses on animals collected during quantitative and/or semi-quantitative sampling; and, 5) To tag some individuals when necessary for future identification. These activities will involve the capture of all mussel species listed on the permit, via quadrat sampling or timed searches, from sites listed on the permit. For quantitative sampling, substrates in 1 m x 1 m quadrats will be excavated by hand. For all sampling, any mussels found will be identified and processed (count, measure, morphometric analyses, tagging, obtaining genetic samples, etc.). All mussels will be returned alive to the locations they were found after processing.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#19-PCAA-00011), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2019-04-29)

    The objectives of the activities covered by this permit are to conduct fish and mussel surveys in the St. Clair River watershed and the Lake St. Clair watershed. Collected baseline data will be used to assist in future project proposals and inquiries. The activities authorized by this permit consist of the capture of any of the species listed on this permit from the St. Clair River watershed and the Lake St. Clair watershed, which will require the handling of any of the species listed on this permit for the purposes of identification and processing (count, photograph, etc.). Fishes will be released alive with the exception of some smaller fishes that may be retained to confirm identification. All mussels will be returned alive to the locations they were found. Sampling will be completed through the use of a backpack electrofishing unit, seine net, or minnow traps where necessary, using the Ontario Stream Assessment Protocol (OSAP). Mussel surveys will adhere to Mackie et al. (2008).
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#19-PCAA-00016), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2019-05-13)

    The objectives of the activities covered by the permit are to conduct a survey (seining and trawling) of the East Sydenham River to determine if Northern Madtom (Noturus stigmosus) still exists in this watershed. Previous recent surveys have been unsuccessful in detecting this species. The last known record of Northern Madtom in the East Sydenham River was from 1929 near Alvinston, Ontario, and from 1975 near Florence, Ontario. The other species listed on the permit may be captured incidentally during the surveys. The activities authorized by the permit consist of the capture of Northern Madtom from the East Sydenham River using a small mesh trawl and/or a small mesh seine net. The gear type used will depend on habitat conditions and water levels at each site. Identification and processing will involve the handling of Northern Madtom (count, measure, photograph etc.). After fishes are processed (identified, measured) they will be released back to the river, alive. Vouchers will be collected using digital cameras, but some vouchers of smaller fishes may be retained in 10% formalin to confirm identification, if digital vouchers cannot be collected. These survey activities may result in the incidental capture and handling of Eastern Sand Darter (Ammocrypta pellucida) and the species at risk mussels listed on the permit, for the purposes of identification and processing (count, measure, photograph etc.). Any species at risk incidentally captured will be returned alive to the location of capture.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#19-PCAA-00020), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2019-05-13)

    The objectives of the activities covered by the permit are: 1) to study post-excystment juvenile unionid mussel dispersion; 2) to study the effects of multiple stressors on unionid mussel suspension feeding; 3) to study the effect of shear stress on juvenile unionid settlement; 4) to study the association between flow velocity and shell orientations and morphometrics; and, 5) to study the physical conditions present in mussel beds. The species listed on the permit may be captured incidentally during this work. The activities authorized by the permit consist of the incidental capture of species listed on the permit from the Ausable, Grand, Sydenham, and Thames rivers. For the juvenile studies, excavations along a transect across the river will be undertaken using an airlift system that will vacuum up the fine sediments and any juvenile mussels in a 12 x 12 cm quadrat. The excavated material will be carefully processed through a series of sieves to define size classes of sediment. For feeding studies, species will be collected via three possible methods: "raccooning" and excavation; manual sieving through the sediment; and, visual searching (depending on water clarity). These activities will involve the handling of the species listed on the permit for the purposes of identification and processing (count, measure, marking, photograph etc.). Any juveniles found will be measured, photographed, and, along with the sediment, returned to their original place along the transect. All mussel species at risk, once identified, will be measured, marked and returned to the spot where they were collected. The marking is completed with a metal probe that is used to etch the periostracum of the shell (with a unique number), which does not harm the mussel.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#19-PCAA-00038 ), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2019-05-30)

    The objective of the activities covered by the permit is to sample municipal drains for the purpose of classifying unrated drains following the Classifying Ontario Municipal Drains Protocol (Fisheries and Oceans Canada). As fisheries assessments have not been previously conducted on many unrated municipal drains, the species listed on the permit may inhabit these drains and may be captured incidentally during the course of the work. The activities authorized by the permit include: 1. The incidental capture of species at risk (SAR) from the locations listed on the permit using seine nets and/or backpack electrofishing units. Within each sample site, approximately 40 m or 10x the wetted width of the watercourse will be sampled for fishes using either a backpack electrofisher, or a seine net depending on habitat suitability. Within the sample site, block nets will be set up and a minimum of three passes will be completed; 2. The handling of the listed SAR for the purposes of identification (count, measure, photograph, etc.). With the exception of vouchers that may be retained to confirm identification, all fishes will be released alive after processing. Vouchers will be collected using digital cameras for larger fishes and all mussels; however, some vouchers of smaller fishes may be retained in 10% formalin or 95% ethanol to confirm identification (if digital vouchers cannot be collected); and, 3. The possession and transport of any of the listed species that are killed incidentally or for vouchering purposes, preserved in 10% formalin or 95% ethanol.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#19-PCAA-00041 ), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2019-06-17)

    The objective of the activities covered by the permit are to conduct habitat assessments and survey for species at risk mussels in areas where in-water works are proposed at various locations across Ontario. The species listed on the permit may be captured incidentally during the course of this work. The activities authorized by the permit include: 1. The capture of the species listed on the permit via visual search using viewing boxes and raccooning, from various waterbodies throughout Ontario; 2. The handling of the species listed on the permit for the purposes of identification and photographing; and, 3. The possession and transport of dead specimens/shells/valves of any of the species listed on the permit found during the course of the sampling.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#19-PCAA-00051 ), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2019-07-30)

    The objective of the activities covered by the permit are to conduct species at risk mussel surveys and habitat assessments at established long-term index stations in the Ausable River watershed to track changes in species and habitat over time, and evaluate recovery efforts. The species listed on the permit may be captured during the course of the work. The activities authorized by the permit consist of: 1. The capture of all mussel species listed on the permit, via quadrat sampling, from index stations on the Ausable River. Substrates in 1 m x 1 m quadrats will be excavated by hand; 2. The handling of the species listed on this permit for the purposes of identification (count, measure, photograph, etc.). All mussels will be released alive after processing to the locations they were found; and, 3. The possession and transport of dead specimens/shells/valves of any of the species listed on this permit killed incidentally or found during the course of the sampling.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#20-PCAA-00007 ), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2020-03-16)

    Under the guidance of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), the activity involves: 1) establishing a network of permanent monitoring stations throughout historical and present ranges of the Sydenham River, to permit tracking of fish populations, analysis of trends and patterns, and permit the evaluation of recovery actions; 2) establishing and implementing a habitat monitoring program that includes water quality and substrate components. The monitoring program will provide insight into the significance of threat factors. Targeted species at risk fish sampling will be conducted in historically occupied habitat (river reaches in the vicinity of Florence and Alvinston), as well as other potentially suitable habitats, using sampling techniques proven to detect species at risk fishes; and, 3) starting in 2020 and following the guidance of DFO, conduct a spatial pattern study of mussel distribution by completing a systematic survey in a specific reach (or reaches) in order to better understand population abundance/density and species-to-habitat relationships in the Sydenham The St. Clair Region Conservation Authority (SCRCA) will collect fishes using a backpack electrofishing unit, seine net, or minnow traps where necessary, using the Ontario Stream Assessment Protocol. Mussel surveys will adhere to protocol found in Mackie et al. (2008). Fifteen sites will be monitored according to the Ontario Benthos Biomonitoring Network Protocol. At each site, this protocol involves using the travelling kick and sweep method for three minutes, covering an area of about 10 m2 at three transects (optimally riffle-pool-riffle) within a stream meander wavelength. The sites are selected to represent the main watercourse. Each of the small watercourses has at least one sampling site.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#20-PCAA-00009 ), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2020-04-03)

    The objectives of the activities covered by the permit are: 1. To conduct quantitative and semi-quantitative surveys for species at risk mussels to track changes in species and habitat over time, and evaluate recovery efforts. Surveys will be conducted in the St. Clair River and tributaries, the Sydenham, Thames, Grand, and Ottawa rivers, with other locations in lakes Huron, Erie, and Ontario, which may be sampled in the event the need arises. Drift samples may be taken at a subset of sites to evaluate timing of glochidial release. Species listed on the permit may be captured during this work; 2. To hold a mussel identification workshop in late June over a two-day period. The second day will spent at a site on the Sydenham River where attendees will practice field identification skills under guidance of experienced malacologists; 3. Depending on the species detected during qualitative and semi-quantitative sampling, to obtain genetic samples for further analyses; 4. To conduct a morphometric analyses on animals collected during quantitative and/or semi-quantitative sampling; 5. Depending on the species detected during qualitative and semi-quantitative sampling, to evaluate reproductive condition of animals found; and, 6. To tag some individuals when necessary for future identification. The activities authorized by the permit consist of: 1. The capture of all mussel species listed on the permit, via quadrat sampling or timed searches, from the locations listed above. For quantitative sampling, substrates in 1 x 1 m quadrats will be excavated by hand. For all sampling, any mussels found will be identified to species and measured; 2. The handling of the species listed on the permit for the purposes of identification and processing (count, measure, morphometric analyses, tagging, and obtaining genetic samples); and, 3. The possession and transport of any of the species listed on the permit killed incidentally or for vouchering purposes.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#20-PCAA-00012 ), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2020-04-03)

    The objectives of the activities covered by the permit are to test and apply the gear (i.e., mussel brail) required to delineate areas of protected habitat for species at risk mussels in non-wadeable habitats in the Sydenham, Thames, and Grand rivers. The species listed on the permit may be captured in the course of the work. The activities authorized by the permit consist of: 1. The capture of the mussels listed on the permit using a mussel brail within the Sydenham, Thames, and Grand rivers. Surveys at randomly distributed sampling sites (25 sites in each river) will be done by towing a brail along three transects. Individual brail tows, each representing a different length (50, 75, or 100 m) will be done at each site; 2. The handling of the species listed on this permit for the purposes of identification and processing (count, measure, and photograph). Digital vouchers will be taken of any mussels captured; all mussels will be returned alive to the location of capture; and, 3. The possession and transport of any of the species listed on this permit killed incidentally.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#20-PCAA-00024 ), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2020-06-18)

    The objectives of the activity covered by the permit are to survey mussels, as part of a Master's project, to better understand mussel interactions with other aquatic species. The species listed on the permit may be captured during this work. The activities authorized by the permit consist of: 1. The capture of the species listed on the permit via timed search or quadrat surveys from the Sydenham River watershed and Lake St. Clair delta; 2. The handling of the species listed on the permit for the purposes of identification (count, measure, and photograph). All mussels will be returned alive to the location of capture following processing; and, 3. The possession and transport of any of the species listed on the permit killed incidentally.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#20-PCAA-00025 ), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2020-06-18)

    The objectives of the activity covered by the permit are to study shell morphology of freshwater mussels from various southern Ontario waterbodies, and to sample the water column in the Sydenham River to determine patterns in glochidia position in the water column. The species listed on the permit may be captured during this work. The activities authorized by the permit consist of: 1. The capture of species listed on the permit via visual search and larval nets from the Nottawasaga River, Bayfield River, Maitland River, Ausable River, Sydenham River, Thames River, and Grand River; 2. The handling of the species listed on the permit for the purposes of identification and processing (count, measure, and photograph). All mussels will be returned alive to the location of capture after processing, with the exception of a small number of glochidia that will retained for identification; and, 3. The possession and transport of dead specimens of any of the species listed on the permit killed incidentally or for identification purposes (glochidia).
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#21-PCAA-00009 ), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2021-03-10)

    The objectives of the activities covered by this permit include: 1. Establishing a network of permanent monitoring stations throughout the Sydenham River, in Ontario, to permit tracking of fish populations, analysis of trends and patterns, and permit the evaluation of recovery actions; 2. To conduct a spatial pattern study of mussel distribution by completing a systematic survey in a specific reach (or reaches) in order to better understand population abundance and density, and species to habitat relationships in the Sydenham River; and, 3. To conduct benthic sampling at fifteen sites according to the Ontario Benthos Biomonitoring Network Protocol. The mussels and fishes listed on the permit may be encountered incidentally during the work. The activities authorized by this permit consist of: 1. The capture of any of the species listed on the permit from the St. Clair River watershed and/or the Lake St. Clair watershed. Sampling will be completed through the use of a backpack electrofishing unit, seine net, or minnow traps where necessary, using the Ontario Stream Assessment Protocol. Mussel surveys will adhere to Mackie et al. (2008). Benthic surveys will employ the travelling kick-and-sweep method for three minutes, covering an area of about 10 m at three transects (optimally riffle-pool-riffle) within a stream meander wavelength; 2. The handling of any of the species listed on this permit for the purposes of identification and processing (count, measure, and photograph). Fishes will be identified, counted, and released alive, with the exception of some smaller fishes that may be retained to confirm identification. All mussels will be returned alive to the locations they were found; and, 3. The possession and transport of any species listed on this permit killed incidentally or for vouchering purposes.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#21-PCAA-00023 ), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2021-05-05)

    The objectives of the activities covered by the permit are: 1. To conduct quantitative and semi-quantitative surveys in the St. Clair River and tributaries, the Sydenham, Thames, and Grand rivers, and lakes Huron, Erie, and Ontario, for species at risk (SAR) mussels (Fawnsfoot [Truncilla donaciformis], Hickorynut [Obovaria olivaria], Kidneyshell [Ptychobranchus fasciolaris], Lilliput [Toxolasma parvum], Northern Riffleshell [Epioblasma rangiana], Rayed Bean [Villosa fabalis], Round Pigtoe [Pleurobema sintoxia], Round Hickorynut [Obovaria subrotunda], Salamander Mussel [Simpsonaias ambigua], Snuffbox [Epioblasma triquetra], and Threehorn Wartyback [Obliquaria reflexa]), to track changes in species and habitat over time, and evaluate recovery efforts. Drift samples may be taken at a subset of sites to evaluate the timing of glochidial release; 2. To hold a mussel identification workshop in late June over a two-day period. The second day of will be spent at a site on the Sydenham River where attendees will practice field identification skills under the guidance of experienced malacologists; 3. Depending on the species detected during qualitative and semi-quantitative sampling, to obtain genetic samples for further analyses; 4.To conduct a morphometric analyses on animals collected during quantitative and/or semi-quantitative sampling; and, 5. To tag some individuals when necessary for future identification. The aforementioned species may be captured during this work. The activities authorized by the permit consist of: 1. The capture of all mussel species listed previously, via quadrat sampling or timed searches, from the locations listed previously. For quantitative sampling, substrates in 1 m x 1 m quadrats will be excavated by hand. For all sampling, any mussels found will be identified to species and measured; 2. The handling of SAR for the purposes of identification and processing (count, measure, morphometric analyses, tagging, and obtaining genetic samples); and, 3. The possession and transport of any of the species listed previously killed incidentally or for vouchering purposes.
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Critical Habitat Orders

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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