Species Profile

Dakota Skipper

Scientific Name: Hesperia dacotae
Taxonomy Group: Arthropods
COSEWIC Range: Saskatchewan, Manitoba
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: May 2014
COSEWIC Status: Endangered
COSEWIC Status Criteria: B2ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v)
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: This butterfly is dependent on tall-grass and mixed-grass prairie habitats, which have suffered > 99% historical losses since the 1850s. The species occurs within fragmented patches of habitat in three population centres in Canada. It has a small home range and is associated with specific prairie plants, making it sensitive to conversion of prairie remnants to cropland, spring and summer haying, overgrazing, controlled burns, drainage of natural sites, and natural disturbances such as floods. The long-term persistence of this butterfly is dependent on appropriate management of its habitat, most of which consists of small fragments.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Threatened in November 2003. Status re-examined and designated Endangered in May 2014.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Endangered
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2005-07-14

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 | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Dakota Skipper

Dakota Skipper Photo 1

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Description

Dakota Skipper (Hesperia dacotae) is a small (21-33 mm) butterfly. The dorsal wing surfaces of females vary in colour from grayish-beige to brown, suffused with differing amounts of orange and paler translucent spots on the forewing. Wing undersides are greyish-brown with obscure pale spots on the hindwing, and are considered diagnostic for the species. Male dorsal wing surfaces are tawny orange with narrow, diffuse brownish borders and a distinct dark marking on the forewing. The underside of males is often a dull yellowish-orange with poorly developed pale spots. Dakota Skipper is one of a small group of habitat specialist butterflies that ranges in native tall-grass and mixed-grass prairie habitats that remain in small isolated pockets in Canada. The loss of this skipper from Canada would represent the loss of a significant species of this endangered prairie ecosystem. (Updated 2017/07/21)

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Distribution and Population

Dakota Skipper is closely associated with native tall-grass and upland dry mixed-prairie ecosystems, and historically ranged throughout central North America from southern Illinois, Iowa, North and South Dakotas and western Minnesota into southern Canada within Manitoba and extreme Saskatchewan. As of 2012, there are three extant and five extirpated population centres in Canada. The three extant population centres are: 1) Interlake Region surrounding Lundar, Manitoba; 2) Oak Lake Region near Griswold, southwestern Manitoba; and 3) Souris River Region, from Bienfait to Glen Ewen in southeastern Saskatchewan. (Updated 2017/07/21)

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Habitat

Dakota Skipper is an obligate native tall-grass and upland dry mixed-prairie specialist. This species' habitat is categorized into one of two habitat types. In Manitoba the species inhabits wet-mesic tall grass prairie distinguished by topographically low relief (>1), more sandy gravel-free soils, and high water tables prone to intermittent flooding. This habitat type is associated with bluestem grasses and four predominant flowers, almost always present and in bloom during Dakota Skipper flight season: Black-eyed Susan, Common Harebell, Mountain Death Camas, and Wood Lily.) In Saskatchewan Dakota Skipper inhabits upland dry mixed prairie habitat associated with glacial landscapes characterized by rolling terrain with relatively higher relief. Within this habitat, Bluestem and Needle Grasses are dominant. Wood Lily and Common Harebell are present; however, Common Gaillardia and especially Narrow-leaved Prairie Coneflower are important nectar sources. (Updated 2017/07/21)

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Biology

Dakota Skipper has one generation per year. Individual adults live up to three weeks, but populations are active for a three- to five-week period during late June to mid-July. Adult females mate within one or two days following emergence and immediately begin laying eggs. Eggs are typically laid individually on the undersides of leaves of the larval host plants. (Updated 2017/07/21)

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Threats

The predominant threat to Dakota Skipper is increased frequency and severity of flooding that partially affects parts of this low-relief habitat at all three population centres. Historically, prairie ecosystems experienced periodic natural flooding; however, the present-day remaining habitat patches are no longer interconnected, preventing recolonization between these periodically flooded sites. This factor, combined with the cumulative threats that include conversion of habitat to non-grassland farming (e.g., agricultural intensification), overgrazing, haying, mining operations, native and non-native vegetative succession, wildfires and fire suppression and pest control, is causing further declines. (Updated 2017/07/21)

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Protection

Federal Protection

The Dakota Skipper 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 Recovery Strategy for the Dakota Skipper (Hesperia dacotae) in Canada
Status Final posting on SAR registry

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Recovery Progress and Activities

Summary of Progress to Date There has been no known change in the Dakota Skipper population. Summary of Research/Monitoring Activities The monitoring and surveying of species at risk habitat, including that of the Dakota Skipper, is ongoing in Manitoba. Summary of Recovery Activities Conservation agreements with landowners are being established to secure native habitat of species at risk within the prairie grasslands of Manitoba. Saskatchewan continues to encourage and support habitat stewardship initiatives that contribute to the recovery of the species. The collection of baseline information helps to design protocols for identifying and protecting the critical habitat. Issues of overgrazing and burning are addressed in a manner that would best protect the Dakota Skipper. Rotational grazing creates areas of mixed vegetation structure preferred by this species and early spring burning would benefit the Dakota Skipper by increasing nectar plant density and reducing higher levels of litter. URLs Government of Canada: Dakota Skipper:http://www.cbif.gc.ca/spp_pages/butterflies/species/DakotaSkipper_e.php

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.

14 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Dakota skipper Hesperia dacotae in Canada (2015-01-06)

    The Dakota Skipper, Hesperia dacotae, is a member of the family Hesperidae (Skippers), subfamily Hesperiinae (Branded Skippers), and the Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths). No subspecies are recognized. The adult Dakota Skipper has a 21 to 29 mm wingspan. Males and females differ in coloration. Males are tawny orange with a diffuse brownish border on the upper side of the wings and an elongated dark mark (called the brand) on the front wing. The underside is yellowish orange with a poorly developed band of paler spots arranged in a semicircle. Females, which lack the brand, range from buff to brown with varying degrees of orange over-scaling on the upper side. There are usually several small, translucent, whitish spots on the upper side of the front wing. The under side of the wings is yellowish brown with a semicircle of ill-defined whitish spots on the hind wing. The eggs are hemispherical in shape and only about 1.2 mm in diameter. The full-grown caterpillars are about 20 mm in length. They are light brown to flesh colored with no distinctive color patterns.

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Dakota Skipper (2004-10-22)

    This butterfly is dependent on native tall-grass and mixed-grass prairie, a habitat that has suffered enormous historic losses, and the butterfly's populations have likely undergone similar declines. Current remnants of native prairie are generally not highly threatened as they are mostly unsuitable for agriculture but some habitat loss and fragmentation continue. The butterfly is very sensitive to conversion of prairie remnants to cropland, spring and summer haying, heavy grazing, controlled burns and increased pressures to drain natural sites. Although the current population of this butterfly numbers 28,500 - 40,500 individuals, these occur in only three or four disjunct populations. The long-term persistence of the butterfly is dependent on appropriate management of its habitat, most of which is privately owned.
  • Response Statement - Dakota Skipper (2015-01-13)

    This butterfly is dependent on tall-grass and mixed-grass prairie habitats, which have suffered > 99% historical losses since the 1850s. The species occurs within fragmented patches of habitat in three population centres in Canada. It has a small home range and is associated with specific prairie plants, making it sensitive to conversion of prairie remnants to cropland, spring and summer haying, overgrazing, controlled burns, drainage of natural sites, and natural disturbances such as floods. The long-term persistence of this butterfly is dependent on appropriate management of its habitat, most of which consists of small fragments.

Recovery Strategies

  • Recovery Strategy for the Dakota Skipper (Hesperia dacotae) in Canada (2007-11-20)

    The Dakota skipper (Hesperia dacotae) was designated Threatened by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) in 2003 (COSEWIC 2003) and was officially listed under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) in July 2005. SARA (Section 37) requires the competent Minister to prepare a recovery strategy for all listed extirpated, endangered or threatened species. The Canadian Wildlife Service – Prairie and Northern Region, Environment Canada, led the development of this recovery strategy. It was developed in cooperation or consultation with the Governments of Manitoba and Saskatchewan. All responsible jurisdictions reviewed and approved the strategy. The strategy meets SARA requirements in terms of content and process (Sections 39–41).

Orders

  • Order Acknowledging Receipt of the Assessments Done Pursuant to Subsection 23(1) of the Act (2004-10-19)

    The Order acknowledges receipt by the Governor in Council of the assessments of the status of wildlife species done pursuant to subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The purpose of SARA is to prevent wildlife species from being extirpated or becoming extinct, to provide for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated, endangered or threatened as a result of human activity and to manage species of special concern to prevent them from becoming endangered or threatened.
  • Order Acknowledging Receipt of the Assessments Done Pursuant to Subsection 23(1) of the Act (volume 151, number 12, 2017) (2017-06-14)

    His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, acknowledges receipt, on the making of this Order, of the assessments done pursuant to subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) with respect to the species set out in the annexed schedule.
  • Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act (volume 152, number 4, 2018) (2018-02-21)

    Biodiversity is rapidly declining worldwide as species become extinct. Today’s extinction rate is estimated to be between 1 000 and 10 000 times higher than the natural rate. Biodiversity is positively related to ecosystem productivity, health and resiliency (i.e. the ability of an ecosystem to respond to changes or disturbances). Given the interdependency of species, a loss of biodiversity can lead to decreases in ecosystem function and services (e.g. natural processes such as pest control, pollination, coastal wave attenuation, temperature regulation and carbon fixing). These services are important to the health of Canadians, and also have important ties to Canada’s economy. Small changes within an ecosystem resulting in the loss of individuals and species can therefore result in adverse, irreversible and broad-ranging effects.
  • Order Amending Schedules 1 to 3 to the Species at Risk Act (volume 139, number 15, 2005) (2005-07-27)

    The Minister of the Environment is recommending, pursuant to section 27 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA), that 43 species be added to Schedule 1, the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. This recommendation is based on scientific assessments by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and on consultations with governments, Aboriginal peoples, wildlife management boards, stakeholders and the Canadian public.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2004 (2004-09-16)

    2004 Annual Report to the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.
  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2013-2014 (2014-10-15)

    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, 2013 to September, 2014) from November 24 to November 29, 2013 and from April 27 to May 2, 2014. During the current reporting period, COSEWIC assessed the status or reviewed the classification of 56 wildlife species. The wildlife species assessment results for the 2012-2013 reporting period include the following: Extinct: 0 Extirpated: 0 Endangered: 23 Threatened: 12 Special Concern: 20 Data Deficient: 0 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 25 of those wildlife species resulted in a confirmation of the same status as the previous assessment.

Permits and Related Agreements

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act : Terrestrial Species - January 2015 (2015-01-13)

    The Government of Canada is committed to preventing the disappearance of wildlife species at risk from our lands. As part of its strategy for realizing that commitment, on June 5, 2003, the Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species provided for under SARA, also called the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Extirpated, Endangered and Threatened species on Schedule 1 benefit from the protection of prohibitions and recovery planning requirements under SARA. Special Concern species benefit from its management planning requirements. Schedule 1 has grown from the original 233 to 521 wildlife species at risk. Please submit your comments byApril 15, 2015, for terrestrial species undergoing normal consultationsand byOctober 15, 2015, for terrestrial species undergoing extended consultations.For a description of the consultation paths these species will undergo, please see:Species at Risk Public Registry website
  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act: November 2004 (2004-11-23)

    The Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA) on June 5, 2003 as part of its strategy for the protection of wildlife species at risk. Attached to the act is Schedule 1, the list of the species that receive protection under SARA, hereinafter referred to as the 'SARA list'. Canadians are invited to comment on whether all or some of the species included in this document should be added to the SARA list.

Related Information

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA) Listing Plan 2016 to 2018 (2017-09-29)

    The status of wildlife species is assessed by an independent panel of expert Canadian scientists, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). 149 terrestrial species were assessed as at-risk by COSEWIC between 2009 and 2016 and are eligible for listing under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) to be considered by the Governor-in-Council (GIC) on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment: 86 species would be new additions, 54 currently listed species would be reclassified and 9 species would be updated to reflect changes in their recognized designatable units. A three-year listing plan has been developed to address all 149 terrestrial species and listing decisions for most species are anticipated by the end of 2018. Making amendments to Schedule 1 of SARA is a two-step process. The first step is for the GIC to propose an amendment through an order in council published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, for a 30-day public comment period. The second step is for the GIC to make a final decision on whether or not to make amendments to Schedule 1 of SARA, taking into consideration comments received during the 30-day public comment period. The amendments are made through an order in council published in the Canada Gazette, Part II. Both orders are accompanied by a Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement (RIAS) which presents the implications of listing the species or changing their status. Publishing this plan on the Species at Risk Public Registry is intended to provide transparency about the Government of Canada’s plan to make listing decisions under the Species at Risk Act. NOTE: The information presented below is intended to provide openness and transparency with respect to when terrestrial species might be considered for listing under Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act. It is intended to assist anyone who may wish to provide comments on such listing considerations. Given any number of factors can affect the timing of a listing decision; the Plan is subject to change. Accordingly, the Plan will be periodically updated.
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