A general habitat description is a technical document that provides greater clarity on the area of habitat protected for a species based on the general habitat definition found in the Endangered Species Act, 2007. General habitat protection does not include an area where the species formerly occurred or has the potential to be reintroduced unless existing members of the species depend on that area to carry out their life processes. A general habitat description also indicates how the species' habitat has been categorized, as per the policy "Categorizing and Protecting Habitat Under the Endangered Species Act", and is based on the best scientific information available.

Habitat categorization for the Silver Shiner (Notropis photogenis)

Category 1: Flowing pools, runs and riffles in occupied reaches

Category 2: Shallow, nearshore habitats, and areas with aquatic vegetation in occupied reaches

Category 3: Floodplains and riparian edges adjacent to occupied reaches

Category 1

Swift flowing pools, runs and riffles in occupied reaches are considered Category 1 habitat, and will be considered to have the lowest level of tolerance to alteration. Silver Shiner depend on these areas for sensitive life processes including feeding and spawning. These areas are habitually used and support concentrations of individuals.

Little is known about the breeding biology of the Silver Shiner, however spawning is thought to take place in the spring in deep riffles, runs and flowing pools of streams or rivers (Trautman 1981, DFO 2012) and occasionally over the nests and spawning sites of other minnow species (e.g., Nocomis spp., Luxilus spp.; Stauffer et al. 1979). Spawning in Ontario is thought to occur from late May to mid-June over an approximately two-week period when water temperatures are between 18.1 and 23.5°C (Baldwin 1988).

Although it remains uncertain if, and how far, Silver Shiner migrate to spawning and over-wintering sites, riverine fishes often move throughout a reach, sometimes considerable distances, to access different habitat components over its lifetime. For the purpose of general habitat protection, an occupied reach is defined as a segment classified under the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources' (OMNR) Aquatic Landscape Inventory System (ALIS; Stanfield and Kuyvenhoven 2005). ALIS uses landscape features such as hydrography, surficial geology, slope, stream position and barriers to classify a length of stream into relatively homogeneous and spatially contiguous sections. Given that these landscape features dictate the habitat conditions at a site-level, a segment should contain similar habitat conditions throughout its entirety.

Typical suitable habitat for Silver Shiner is primarily medium to large streams or rivers (4th order and higher), usually with widths greater than 20 m, and having alternating riffle-pool sequences (Gruchy et al. 1973, Trautman 1981, McKee and Parker 1982, Baldwin 1988, Holm and Boehm 1998). This schooling species occurs primarily in reaches in rivers or streams with deep, swift- flowing riffle, run and pool habitats (Gruchy et al. 1973, Trautman 1981, Baldwin 1988). Baldwin (1983) found the most important environmental factor influencing the presence of both adults and juveniles in all seasons was water depth, as Silver Shiner were almost always associated with deeper water. Much of the scientific literature indicates Silver Shiner are frequently captured at depths of 20-100 cm (Gruchy et al. 1973, McKee and Parker 1982, Lavett-Smith 1985, Baldwin 1988, DFO 2012, Dextrase unpublished data). Recent sampling efforts in all four watercourses where the species is found in Ontario revealed that the occurrence of Silver Shiner was positively correlated with depth (DFO 2012) and were captured in deep pools, occasionally up to depths of 200 cm (Barnucz pers. comm. 2012).

Category 2

Shallow, nearshore habitats and areas with aquatic vegetation in occupied reaches will be considered Category 2 habitat and will be considered to have a moderate level of tolerance to alteration before their function is compromised. Juveniles and adults depend on these slower-flowing, nearshore areas and stream margins at night or in the spring as refuge during high-flow events (Baldwin 1988).

To a lesser degree, Silver Shiner may inhabit shallower, slow-moving habitats (Gruchy et al. 1973, Trautman 1981, Baldwin 1988) and seem to avoid areas containing aquatic vegetation. Silver Shiner has been found in Ontario in areas with and without aquatic vegetation (Gruchy et al. 1973, Baldwin 1988, Holm and Boehm 1998), although recent sampling has revealed that 99% of the sites where Silver Shiner occurred were classified as 'open water dominated' (DFO 2012). Other recent work (Dextrase unpublished data) for Silver Shiner, demonstrated a significant negative relationship between macrophyte coverage and site occupancy.

Category 3

Floodplains and riparian edges adjacent to occupied reaches are Category 3 habitat and will be considered to have the highest tolerance to alteration. Floodplains and riparian edges adjacent to occupied reaches are important for maintaining the quality and function of Category 1 and 2 aquatic habitat occupied by Silver Shiner.

Silver Shiner have been collected in the margins of floodplain habitats in the spring (Baldwin 1988) and may occupy these habitats when water levels are high, and spill on to the floodplain.

Depending on the size of the watercourse, riparian vegetation can assist in maintaining the water quality of the river by: attenuating overland run-off carrying sediment and pollutants, contributing woody material to help shape channel diversity, provide cover, assist with maintaining thermal regimes and contributing terrestrial-based prey items. The species feeds opportunistically on insects and crustaceans in the water column and at the water’s surface. Occasionally Silver Shiner will leap out of the water to catch aerial insects (Trautman 1981).

Activities in Silver Shiner habitat

Activities in general habitat can continue as long as the function of these areas for the species is maintained and individuals of the species are not killed, harmed, or harassed.

Generally compatible:

  • Recreational use of the water such as swimming, boating, and recreational fishing.
  • Continuation of agricultural practices such as hayfield creation and maintenance, and annual harvest.
  • Appropriate scientific monitoring.

Generally not compatible footnote 1 :

  • Significant alteration of aquatic habitat (e.g. vegetation, streambed), water temperature, and water chemistry.
  • Rapid or permanent alteration of water quantity.
  • Significant alteration of riparian and floodplain conditions.

Sample application of the general habitat protection for Silver Shiner

Diagram illustrating a sample application of the general habitat protection for Silver Shiner, depicting the habitat categorization described in this document.

Enlarge Sample application of the general habitat protection for Silver Shiner PDF


Baldwin, M.E. 1983. Habitat use, distribution, life history, and interspecific associations of Notropis photogenis (Silver Shiner: Osteichthyes: Cyprinidae) in Canada, with comparisons with Notropis rubellus (Rosyface Shiner). M.Sc. thesis, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario.

Baldwin, M.E. 1988. Updated status of the Silver Shiner, Notropis photogenis in Canada. Canadian Field-Naturalist 102(1): 147-157.

Dextrase, A. 2013.Unpublished data. Biodiversity Conservation Policy Advisor, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). 2012. Recovery Potential Assessment of Silver Shiner (Notropis photogenis) in Canada. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Advis. Rep. 2012/068.

Gruchy, C.G., R.H. Bowen and I.M. Gruchy. 1973. First record of the Silver Shiner, Notropis photogenis , from Canada. Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada. 30(9):1379-1382.

Holm, E., and D. Boehm. 1998. Fish sampling in the Grand River. A report prepared by the Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Biology, Royal Ontario Museum, for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Cambridge District. 24 pp.

Barnucz, J., pers. comm. 2012. Fisheries Biologist, Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Government of Canada, Burlington, Ontario.

Lavett-Smith, C. 1985.The Inland Fishes of New York State. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Albany New York. 522 p.

McKee, P.M., and B. J. Parker. 1982. The distribution, biology, and status of the fishes Campostoma anomalum, Clinostomus elongatus, Notropis photogenis (Cyprinidae), and Fundulus notatus (Cyprinodontidae) in Canada. Can. J. Zool. 60:1347-1358.

Stanfield, L., and R. Kuyvenhoven. 2005. Protocol for applications used in the Aquatic Landscape Inventory Software application for delineating, characterizing and classifying valley segments within the Great Lakes basin. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Report, July 27, 2005.

Stauffer, J R, Jr., R.F. Denoncourt, C.H. Hocutt, and R.E. Jenkins. 1979. A description of the cyprinid fish hybrid, Notropis chrysocephalus Notropis photogenis , from the Greenbrier River, West Virginia. Natural History Miscellanea (Chicago) No. 204: 1-6

Trautman, M.B. 1981. The Fishes of Ohio. Second Edition. Ohio State University Press, Columbus. 782 pp.

This general habitat description is available in PDF format upon request. Please email PDF requests to recovery.planning@ontario.ca.