Eastern Sand Darter (Quebec populations)

Ammocrypta pellucida

SARA Status
No Status
NS
Special Concern
SC
Threatened
TH
Endangered
EN
Extirpated
EX

SARA Status

  • No Status NS
  • Special Concern SC
  • Threatened TH
  • Endangered EN
  • Extirpated EX
COSEWIC Status
Not at Risk
NR
Special Concern
SC
Threatened
TH
Endangered
EN
Extirpated
EX

COSEWIC Status

  • Not at Risk NR
  • Special Concern SC
  • Threatened TH
  • Endangered EN
  • Extirpated EX

Description

The eastern sand darter is a translucent fish of a yellowish or silvery shade with a series of 10-14 dark lateral spots. It is partially covered with scales. Adults range in length from 45 to 70 mm.

In Quebec, the number of areas where eastern sand darters are found, as well as the range, extent and quality of their habitats are declining. The species still occurs in about ten sites.

Habitat

The global range of eastern sand darters is limited to North America. Their main range is located in eastern central United States to the southernmost part of Ontario, while a smaller area is mainly located in Quebec and includes a few tributaries in eastern Ontario and in Vermont and New York.

In Quebec, eastern sand darter populations occur in the St. Lawrence River and its tributaries, from Lac des Deux Montagnes to the west to Leclerville, downstream from Lac Saint-Pierre, to the east.

Eastern sand darters are insectivorous with a well developed burrowing behaviour, and feed mainly on midge and black fly larvae. They are usually found in sandy areas downstream from meanders in rivers and streams and on the sandy shoals of lakes.

Threats

The eastern sand darter cannot tolerate pollution and has very specific requirements in terms of habitat. Thus, it is very vulnerable to any activity that could alter its habitat. These characteristics make the species a very good indicator of the quality of watercourses it inhabits.

In Quebec, the survival and recovery of the eastern sand darter are primarily threatened by the disruption and deterioration of aquatic habitats caused by intensive agricultural activities. Other human activities such as commercial or recreational navigation, dam management, biting fly control, forestry activities, vacationing, stream channelization, fishing and industrial activities can negatively impact eastern sand darters or their habitat.

Further Information

Since June 2003, the eastern sand darter is protected under the Species at Risk Act, which prohibits harming, killing or capturing individuals.

A recovery strategy has been developed in collaboration with the recovery team (Équipe de rétablissement des cyprinidés et petits percidés), which includes representatives from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune du Québec, watershed organizations and Hydro-Québec.

Several recovery measures have already been implemented. For example, ichthyologic surveys have confirmed the use of some sites by the eastern sand darter, have helped discover new watercourses where they occur, and have improved the knowledge about habitat characteristics.

Various stewardship projects have also been implemented, notably to restore and protect certain habitats used by the species and to raise public awareness for people who use these areas. To inform fishermen and shoreline residents of the importance of protecting the eastern sand darter and its habitat, an awareness-raising information sheet was developed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Species at Risk Public Registry Profile

Eastern Sand Darter (Quebec populations)

Eastern sand darter (Quebec populations)

Eastern Sand Darter in its habitat
Al Dextrase (Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry)

Scientific Name: Ammocrypta pellucida
SARA Status: Threatened
COSEWIC Status: Threatened
Region: Quebec

Documented observations of eastern sand darters in Quebec

Documented observations of eastern sand darters in Quebec
Gilles Fortin, DFO

Did You Know?

Since the publication of the recovery strategy in 2014, sand darters were captured in new rivers in Quebec : Champlain River, Nicolet River, Nicolet Sud-Ouest River, Rivière du Loup, and Noire River, a tributary of the Yamaska River.

Related information