Science Advisory Report 2012/071
Recovery Potential Assessment for Umatilla Dace (Rhinichthys Umatilla) in British Columbia
- Umatilla dace was designated Special Concern by COSEWIC in 1988, and was included on Schedule 3 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) in 2004. In April 2010, the species was assessed as Threatened by COSEWIC based on the limited area of occupancy, <10 locations, and the expected future loss of habitat or deterioration of habitat quality due to potential threats.
- Major gaps in our knowledge are evident. There are considerable difficulties in species identification; sampling methods for specific life stages over a range of habitats are suspect and inconsistent over time. Current distribution is uncertain as there have been no surveys for Umatilla dace within most of their historic range within the past 20 years. Few estimates of abundance exist and these are confined to a few locations in one watershed. Thus distribution targets are impossible to estimate.
- Although recruitment is known to have occurred in the Columbia and Similkameen Rivers, there is great uncertainty around the persistence of the species in some watersheds and population projections or targets are impossible to estimate.
- Potential critical habitats could be described as riverine, higher velocity, silt free water, with coarse gravel-cobble-boulder substrates bordering confirmed Umatilla dace sites.
- Allowable harm to Umatilla dace in all systems should include scientific sampling for the purpose of further understanding abundance and habitat use of the species, but total harm should not increase beyond current levels.
- Umatilla dace spawning has never been observed in the wild, but if nest site preparation by males does occur, it implies a residence requirement for spawning.
- A recovery goal could be considered as maintaining current abundance, distribution, and number of existing locations. A more aggressive goal would require addressing uncertainties as to the number of locations, projected rate of habitat loss and habitat quality, and quantification of threats.
- Umatilla dace was assessed as threatened based on the potential of future threats to reduce quality and quantity of habitat, thus it is likely that current quantity and quality of habitat is sufficient to recover the species if those threats do not occur.
- Threats to dace include; hydroelectric operations and dam development, alien invasive species, low seasonal water levels associated with water withdrawals and climatic changes, resource extraction, logging and mountain pine beetle deforestation, and removal of dace for scientific research purposes.
- Extensive surveys are recommended to confirm the distribution (including number of locations), abundance, and habitat types utilized by Umatilla dace. Studies on the impacts of rapid flow changes should continue. The utility of targeted angling on invasive species could be examined.
This Science Advisory Report is from the March 14, 2011 meeting on the Recovery Potential Assessment – Umatilla Dace (Rhinichthys umatilla) in British Columbia. Additional publications from this process will be posted as they become available on the Fisheries and Oceans Canada Science Advisory Schedule.
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