Species At Risk

Channel Darter

(Percina copelandi)

Threatened

Channel Darter
Channel Darter occurrences map

Description

The Channel Darter is a small member of the perch family. This tiny fish grows to between three and seven centimetres in length. It has a light sand or olive-coloured body with brown speckles on the back, dark cross-shaped markings or oblong blotches on its sides, and a whitish belly. The fins may be lightly speckled but are usually clear. Although the Channel Darter looks similar to other darter species, particularly the more common Johnny Darter, experts can tell these two fish species apart by looking at the small spines on the anal fin near the tail.

Range

In Canada, the Channel Darter only lives in Ontario and Quebec. In Ontario, it is found in several locations from the St. Clair and Detroit rivers to Lake Erie, and in tributaries of eastern Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence and Ottawa rivers.

Habitat

In Ontario, the Channel Darter lives in clean streams and lakes with sandy or gravel bottoms. During the breeding season in late spring, it prefers riffle areas with fairly fast moving water but spends the winter in deeper, calmer water. It eats mostly aquatic insect larvae from the bottom of the stream.

Threats

In Ontario, the main threat to the Channel Darter is poor habitat quality. This species likes clean, clear water and does not do well in rivers that are muddy or polluted. In many streams where this fish lives, the water is becoming muddy due to soil washing into the river from nearby urban and agricultural areas. Invasive fish species that compete with the Channel Darter for food are also a threat.

Protection

The Channel Darter is protected under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act and the federal Species at Risk Act.

What You Can Do to Help the Channel Darter

  • The Ministry of Natural Resources tracks species at risk such as the Channel Darter. You can use a handy online form to report your sightings to the Natural Heritage Information Centre. Photographs with specific locations or mapping coordinates are always helpful. nhic.mnr.gov.on.ca
  • Report any illegal activity related to plants and wildlife to 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667).
  • Invasive species seriously threaten many of Ontario’s species at risk. To learn what you can do to help reduce the threat of invasive species, visit: ontario.ca/invasivespecies ; www.invadingspecies.com ; www.ontarioinvasiveplants.ca ; and, www.invasivespecies.gc.ca .
  • Volunteer with your local nature club or provincial park to participate in surveys or stewardship work focused on species at risk.
  • Private land owners have a very important role to play in species at risk recovery.If you find Channel Darter in a watercourse on or adjacent to your property,you may be eligible for stewardship programs that support the protection and recovery of species at risk and their habitats.
  • Farmers and land owners can help improve fish habitat and keep Ontario’s water safe and clean by maintaining natural vegetation next to creeks and rivers, and keeping pollution and soil from washing into Ontario’s rivers. You can find more information about programs and funding assistance for eligible farmers from the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association website at www.ontariosoilcrop.org/en/programs/species_at_risk.htm.

Did you know?

The sandy colour of the Channel Darter provides perfect camouflage with the sandy river and lake bottoms where it lives.

Did you know?

When breeding, the male’s body and fins may turn dark and his head may become almost black. Breeding males also set up and vigorously defend a small territory that is usually centred around one special rock.


The Endangered Species Act


Contact your local ministry office


Often the best source of local information on species at risk is your nearest ministry office. Call with your questions or concerns.


The Endangered Species Act


Contact your local ministry office


Often the best source of local information on species at risk is your nearest ministry office. Call with your questions or concerns.