Gasterosteus aculeatus - (Linnaeus, 1758)
Threespine Stickleback
Other English Common Names: threespine stickleback
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Gasterosteus aculeatus Linnaeus, 1758 (TSN 166365)
French Common Names: épinoche à trois épines
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.104745
Element Code: AFCPA03010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Fishes - Bony Fishes - Other Bony Fishes
Image 48

© Noel Burkhead & Virginia Dept of Game and Inland Fisheries (Fishes of Virginia)

 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Actinopterygii Gasterosteiformes Gasterosteidae Gasterosteus
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
Check this box to expand all report sections:
Concept Reference
Help
Concept Reference: Robins, C.R., R.M. Bailey, C.E. Bond, J.R. Brooker, E.A. Lachner, R.N. Lea, and W.B. Scott. 1991. Common and scientific names of fishes from the United States and Canada. American Fisheries Society, Special Publication 20. 183 pp.
Concept Reference Code: B91ROB01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Gasterosteus aculeatus
Taxonomic Comments: Complex patterns of variation make taxonomic treatment difficult. This stickleback may be considered a species complex with many unique and reproductively isolated populations, subspecies or species.

Populations exist that are strictly marine, anadromous, and freshwater resident. The marine and anadromous forms have given rise to diverse resident phenotypes. Subspecies have been recognized in the past, but current scientific discussion of this species complex recognizes multiple distinct species within evolutionary radiations; current genetic research is underway to determine relationships between evolutionary groups and species before names can be assigned (Hatfield 2001a, 2001b). Lateral plate morphs of resident freshwater forms are recognized as lows (i.e., lateral plates on anterior parts of the fish only), partials (i.e., lateral plates on anterior and posterior ends of the fish with a gap between), and completes (i.e., lateral plates in a continuous row anterior to posterior). In a rare form, plates are entirely absent; G. a. williamsoni is an endangered plateless form exhibiting reduction in pelvic structure, and only occurs in drainages in southern California. Lows from the Pacific coast of North America have been called G. a. microcephalus, Pacific coast completes are G. a. aculeatus, and Penczak (1964, in Wootton 1976) designated lows from Iceland as G. a. islandicus. A plateless form occurring in Shay Creek, San Bernardino County, California, has been identified as G. a. santaeannae (or santa-annae) but is currently recognized as synonymous with G. a. williamsoni (Ross 1973, Moyle et al. 1989).

Studies of allozyme variation (Haglund et al. 1992) and mitochondrial DNA sequences (Orti et al. 1994) in Asian, North American, and European populations recognized two primary clades: (1) European, North American, and some Japanese samples, which could be divided into an (1a) Atlantic basin clade comprising the eastern North American and European populations, and a (1b) basal Pacific basin assemblage comprising western North American and some Japanese populations; and (2) a divergent group of Japanese populations. The divergent Japanese clade deserves further study and possible taxonomic recognition.

Sympatric species pairs bearing "limnetic" and "benthic" life histories and distinct morphologies have evolved in several British Columbian lake systems (Thompson et al 1997, Hatfield 2001, Hatfield and Ptolemy 2001). Some populations of these are endangered or already extinct (Wood 2003).

Several low-lying lakes and streams in the Cook Inlet area contain rare and evolutionarily divergent populations of G. aculeatus including three populations polymorphic for lateral plate morphs, several populations polymorphic for pelvic armor morphs, one lake containing 2 freshwater morphs of the species (a benthic and a limnetic feeder), and one lake containing both anadromous and resident freshwater forms of the species (von Hippel, pers. comm.). Bell and Orti (1994) viewed divergent populations in freshwater habitats around Cook Inlet as parts of an endemic radiation warranting special consideration for conservation as a unit.
Conservation Status
Help

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 27Dec2017
Global Status Last Changed: 20Sep1996
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Widespread, abundant, secure.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5 (05Dec1996)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N5B,N5N,N5M (27Dec2017)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alaska (S5), California (SNR), Connecticut (SNR), Delaware (S4), Indiana (SNA), Maine (S5), Maryland (SNR), Massachusetts (S4), Michigan (SNA), New Hampshire (S5), New Jersey (S4), New York (S4), Oregon (S4), Pennsylvania (S1), Rhode Island (S4), Virginia (S4), Washington (S5), Wisconsin (SNA)
Canada Alberta (SNA), British Columbia (S5), Labrador (S5), Manitoba (S2), New Brunswick (S5), Newfoundland Island (S5), Northwest Territories (S4S5), Nova Scotia (S5), Nunavut (SU), Ontario (S4), Prince Edward Island (S5), Quebec (S5), Yukon Territory (SNA)

Other Statuses

Implied Status under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): PS
Comments on USESA: Subspecies williamsoni of California is listed by USFWS as Endangered.
Implied Status under the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC):PS:T,SC
IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: >2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Range encompasses coastal waters of Eurasia, Iceland, Greenland, eastern Asia, and North America. In North America, this fish ranges from Alaska to Baja California on the west coast, from Baffin Island and the west side of Hudson Bay to Chesapeake Bay, Virginia, along east coast, and it occurs also in inland areas (including Lake Ontario) along both coasts. Sometimes it occurs in the open ocean. The species has been introduced and is established in certain areas of California, Massachusetts, and the Great Lakes (lakes Huron, Michigan, Erie, and Superior) (Fuller et al. 1999, Stephenson and Momot 2000). It also has been introduced in Europe, Iceland, Greenland, and the Pacific coast of Asia (Page and Burr 2011).

Area of Occupancy: >12,500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments:  

Number of Occurrences: > 300
Number of Occurrences Comments: This species is represented by a very large number of occurrences (subpopulations).

Population Size: >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but presumably exceeds 1,000,000. This fish is common and locally abundant in many areas. However, several unique populations have declined to very low levels of abundance including G. a. williamsoni (unarmored form from southern California) and 4 species pairs in British Columbia, one of which is now extinct (Hadley Lake, Lasqueti Island, B.C.; Hatfield 2001a, Wood 2003).

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Very many (>125)

Overall Threat Impact: Low
Overall Threat Impact Comments: On a range-wide scale, no major threats are known.

Locally, threats include human impacts on spawning habitat and water quality, stocking or other introduction of non-native, predatory fishes, including introductions of certain forms of G. aculeatus itself.

Craig (1984) noted that large-scale industrial and petroleum extraction development in the Beaufort Sea could cause direct mortality as a result of intake of juvenile fishes with seawater and indirectly harm populations by altering coastal habitat, including water circulation patterns.

The California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) recognized that increasing development along and recreational uses of the Santa Clara River were threats to the existence of the endangered G. a. williamsoni population (CDFG 1974).

In British Columbia, beaver activity has resulted in fluctuating water levels that have reduced access to some spawning sites used by the giant stickleback (currently recognized as G. aculeatus, but considered by some scientists to be a separate species, this fish is black in color and more than twice as long as threespine stickleback; occurs only in Mayer Lake, Queen Charlotte Islands; see sources in Rubidge 2000, Species at Risk Canada 2004). Increasing human recreational use of lake habitat also threatens this population (Species at Risk Canada 2004).

In Alaska and elsewhere, non-native species such as the northern pike (Esox lucius) and stocked salmonids may threaten sticklebacks through predation and competition for juvenile food resources (Hatfield 2001a, Hatfield and Ptolemy 2001, Foster et al. 2003, Wood 2003).

Hybridization between different forms of G. aculeatus threatens the unique genetic characteristics of specific populations recognized as rare or divergent; extensive hybridization between the native G. a. williamsoni (unarmored) and introduced G. a. microcephalus (armored) forms in California contributed to declines in the now endangered G. a. williamsoni (CDFG 1974, Moyle 1976b, Fuller 2005).

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: Overall, extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, number of subpopulations, and population size probably are relatively stable or declining at a rate of less than 10% over 10 years or three generations.

Long-term Trend:  
Long-term Trend Comments: This species is apparently still abundant throughout range, but some unique, isolated populations have declined to very low levels requiring protection (e.g., G. a. williamsoni and species pairs in B.C.). Other populations have increased or were created as the result of accidental or purposeful introductions to habitats where this species was not native; increasing population size and distribution in the upper Great Lakes area is an example of growing non-indigenous populations in the U.S. (Moyle 1976b, Fuller 2005).

Several studies report evidence of considerable fluctuation in population size from year to year (Greenbank and Nelson 1959, Wootton and Smith 2000). A 26-year study (1972-1998) of a Wales population showed cyclic changes in abundance with a period of about 6 years, around a generally declining trend (Wootton and Smith 2000).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Divergent populations throughout the range should be identified and mapped.

Distribution
Help
Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) Range encompasses coastal waters of Eurasia, Iceland, Greenland, eastern Asia, and North America. In North America, this fish ranges from Alaska to Baja California on the west coast, from Baffin Island and the west side of Hudson Bay to Chesapeake Bay, Virginia, along east coast, and it occurs also in inland areas (including Lake Ontario) along both coasts. Sometimes it occurs in the open ocean. The species has been introduced and is established in certain areas of California, Massachusetts, and the Great Lakes (lakes Huron, Michigan, Erie, and Superior) (Fuller et al. 1999, Stephenson and Momot 2000). It also has been introduced in Europe, Iceland, Greenland, and the Pacific coast of Asia (Page and Burr 2011).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AK, CA, CT, DE, INexotic, MA, MD, ME, MIexotic, NH, NJ, NY, OR, PA, RI, VA, WA, WIexotic
Canada ABexotic, BC, LB, MB, NB, NF, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, YTexotic

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
CA Los Angeles (06037), San Bernardino (06071), San Diego (06073), Santa Barbara (06083), Ventura (06111)
MA Suffolk (25025)
PA Philadelphia (42101)*
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
01 Upper St. John (01010001), Allagash (01010002), Fish (01010003), Aroostook (01010004), Meduxnekeag (01010005), West Branch Penobscot (01020001), East Branch Penobscot (01020002), Lower Penobscot (01020005), Upper Kennebec (01030001), Lower Kennebec (01030003), Lower Androscoggin (01040002), St. Croix (01050001), Maine Coastal (01050002), St. George-Sheepscot (01050003), Saco (01060002), Piscataqua-Salmon Falls (01060003), Charles (01090001)+, Cape Cod (01090002), Narragansett (01090004), Pawcatuck-Wood (01090005)
02 Hudson-Wappinger (02020008), Lower Hudson (02030101), Sandy Hook-Staten Island (02030104), Northern Long Island (02030201), Southern Long Island (02030202), Crosswicks-Neshaminy (02040201), Lower Delaware (02040202)+, Brandywine-Christina (02040205), Cohansey-Maurice (02040206), Broadkill-Smyrna (02040207), Mullica-Toms (02040301), Great Egg Harbor (02040302), Chincoteague (02060010), York (02080107), Eastern Lower Delmarva (02080110), Lower James (02080206)
04 Oak Orchard-Twelvemile (04130001)*, Irondequoit-Ninemile (04140101)*, Salmon-Sandy (04140102)*, Chaumont-Perch (04150102)*, Upper St. Lawrence (04150301)*, Grass (04150304)*
17 Pend Oreille (17010216), Upper Spokane (17010305), Lower Spokane (17010307), Little Spokane (17010308), Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake (17020001), Kettle (17020002), Colville (17020003), Sanpoil (17020004), Chief Joseph (17020005), Okanogan (17020006), Similkameen (17020007), Methow (17020008), Lake Chelan (17020009), Upper Columbia-Entiat (17020010), Wenatchee (17020011), Moses Coulee (17020012), Banks Lake (17020014), Lower Crab (17020015), Upper Columbia-Priest Rapids (17020016), Upper Yakima (17030001), Naches (17030002), Lower Yakima, Washington (17030003), Lower Snake-Tucannon (17060107), Lower Snake (17060110), Middle Columbia-Lake Wallula (17070101), Walla Walla (17070102), Umatilla (17070103), Middle Columbia-Hood (17070105), Lower Columbia-Sandy (17080001), Lewis (17080002), Lower Columbia-Clatskanie (17080003), Lower Columbia (17080006), Middle Fork Willamette (17090001), Coast Fork Willamette (17090002), Upper Willamette (17090003), North Santiam (17090005), South Santiam (17090006), Middle Willamette (17090007), Yamhill (17090008), Molalla-Pudding (17090009), Tualatin (17090010), Clackamas (17090011), Lower Willamette (17090012), Hoh-Quillayute (17100101), Queets-Quinault (17100102), Upper Chehalis (17100103), Lower Chehalis (17100104), Grays Harbor (17100105), Willapa Bay (17100106), Necanicum (17100201), Nehalem (17100202), Wilson-Trusk-Nestuccu (17100203), Siletz-Yaquina (17100204), Alsea (17100205), Siuslaw (17100206), Siltcoos (17100207), North Umpqua (17100301), South Umpqua (17100302), Umpqua (17100303), Coos (17100304), Coquille (17100305), Sixes (17100306), Upper Rogue (17100307), Middle Rogue (17100308), Applegate (17100309), Lower Rogue (17100310), Illinois (17100311), Fraser (17110001), Strait of Georgia (17110002), Nooksack (17110004), Lower Skagit (17110007), Stillaguamish (17110008), Skykomish (17110009), Snoqualmie (17110010), Snohomish (17110011), Lake Washington (17110012), Duwamish (17110013), Puyallup (17110014), Nisqually (17110015), Deschutes (17110016), Dungeness-Elwha (17110020), Crescent-Hoko (17110021)
18 Smith (18010101), Mad-Redwood (18010102), Upper Eel (18010103), Middle Fork Eel (18010104), Lower Eel (18010105), South Fork Eel (18010106), Mattole (18010107), Big-Navarro-Garcia (18010108), Gualala-Salmon (18010109), Russian (18010110), Bodega Bay (18010111), Lower Klamath (18010209), Trinity (18010211), South Fork Trinity (18010212), Sacramento-Lower Thomes (18020103), Sacramento-Stone Corral (18020104), Lower Butte (18020105), Lower Feather (18020106), Lower Yuba (18020107), Lower Bear (18020108), Lower Sacramento (18020109), Lower Cache (18020110), Lower American (18020111), Upper Cache (18020116), Tulare-Buena Vista Lakes (18030012)*, Middle San Joaquin-Lower (18040001)*, Middle San Joaquin-Lower (18040002), San Joaquin Delta (18040003), Lower Calaveras-Mormon Slough (18040004), Lower Cosumnes-Lower Mokelumne (18040005), Upper San Joaquin (18040006), Upper Chowchilla-Upper Fresno (18040007)*, Suisun Bay (18050001), San Pablo Bay (18050002), Coyote (18050003), San Francisco Bay (18050004), Tomales-Drake Bays (18050005), San Francisco Coastal South (18050006), San Lorenzo-Soquel (18060001), Pajaro (18060002), Salinas (18060005), Central Coastal (18060006), Santa Maria (18060008), San Antonio (18060009)+, Santa Ynez (18060010), Alisal-Elkhorn Sloughs (18060011), Carmel (18060012), Santa Barbara Coastal (18060013)+, Ventura (18070101), Santa Clara (18070102)+, Calleguas (18070103), Santa Monica Bay (18070104), Los Angeles (18070105), San Gabriel (18070106), Seal Beach (18070201), San Jacinto (18070202), Santa Ana (18070203)+, Newport Bay (18070204), Aliso-San Onofre (18070301), Santa Margarita (18070302), San Luis Rey-Escondido (18070303), San Diego (18070304), Cottonwood-Tijuana (18070305), San Felipe Creek (18100203)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed (based on multiple information sources) Help
Ecology & Life History
Help
Basic Description: A small compressed fish with dorsal and pelvic spines.
General Description: A small (to 10 cm), laterally compressed, scaleless fish with a very narrow caudal peduncle, 3 (rarely 2 or 4) dorsal spines (the last very short) followed by a soft dorsal fin with 14-16 rays, and large eyes; pelvic fin small, with 1 spine (1 cusp at base) and 1 ray; bony keel along each side of caudal peduncle; 0-30 bony plates on each side (freshwater populations have fewer plates than do marine populations); silver-green to brown above, sides silver, often with dark mottling; large males are black and often have red on fins; breeding males have blue sides, bright red belly and lower sides, and bright blue or green eyes; large females have a pink throat and belly; colors often are subdued in inland populations (Page and Burr 1991, Moyle 1976).

Bourgeois et al. (1994) found that skeletal reduction in Alaska was related to ion composition of lake water, presence of other fishes, and local gene flow.

Diagnostic Characteristics: Differs from other sticklebacks in having fewer dorsal spines (usually 3 vs. 4 or more).
Reproduction Comments: Spawns in spring and summer. In most populations, most adults are 1-2 years old, do not live beyond 4 years, and presumably die at the end of their first breeding season. Reimchen (1992) described a population in Drizzle Lake, Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia, in which individuals lived up to 8 years. Male guards eggs and fry. Eggs hatch in about a week. Nest may contain eggs of several females.
Ecology Comments: Forms loose schools except when spawning (Moyle 1976).

Available density estimates include 7-28 fish/m² in suitable habitat in Wales, 24-63 fish/m² in northwestern England, 2 fish/m² in Kamchatka, Russia, and 4-21 fish/m² in British Columbia (see sources in Wootton and Smith 2000).

Habitat Type: Freshwater
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: Y
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: Salt water populations migrate into freshwater for spawning (Moyle 1976).
Marine Habitat(s): Near shore
Estuarine Habitat(s): Bay/sound, Lagoon, River mouth/tidal river
Riverine Habitat(s): BIG RIVER, CREEK, Low gradient, MEDIUM RIVER
Lacustrine Habitat(s): Shallow water
Special Habitat Factors: Benthic
Habitat Comments: In freshwater areas, this fish typically inhabits quiet weedy pools and backwaters, or occurs among emergent plants at stream edges, over bottoms of sand and mud (Lee et al. 1980, Page and Burr 2011). Marine populations apparently are pelagic, usually staying close to shore. In some lakes, two morphologically and ecologically distinct forms may occur, differing in habitat (one littoral, the other mainly limnetic). Eggs are deposited in freshwater in a nest of plant material made by the male on the bottom in shallow water.
Adult Food Habits: Invertivore, Piscivore
Immature Food Habits: Invertivore, Piscivore
Food Comments: Eats various invertebrates and fish eggs and fry. Freshwater populations feed primarily on bottom organisms or organisms living on aquatic plants (limnetic form in some lakes feeds mainly on plankton). Anadromous populations feed more on free-swimming crustaceans, also bottom organisms.
Length: 10 centimeters
Economic Attributes
Help
Economic Comments: Has been used in carcinogenesis testing (Metcalfe 1989).
Management Summary
Help
Biological Research Needs: Studies of systematics and clarification of taxonomyshould be continued; identification of distribution and characteristics of rare/unique populations will contribute to this work. Threats posed by habitat degradation and introduction of non-native species, especially to unique populations, should be investigated.
Population/Occurrence Delineation
Help
Group Name: Sticklebacks

Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Occurrences are based on evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a given location. Such evidence minimally includes collection or reliable observation and documentation of one or more individuals (including eggs and larvae) in appropriate habitat.
Separation Barriers: Dam lacking a suitable fishway; high waterfall; upland habitat.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Justification: Data on dispersal and other movements generally are not available.

Separation distance (in aquatic kilometers) is arbitrary but reflects the likely low probability that two occupied locations separated by less than several kilometers of aquatic habitat would represent truly independent populations over the long term.

Because of the difficulty in defining suitable versus unsuitable habitat, especially with respect to dispersal, and to simplify the delineation of occurrences, a single separation distance is used regardless of habitat quality.

Date: 21Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G.
Population/Occurrence Viability
Help
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
Help
Authors/Contributors
Help
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 04Jan2008
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 07Feb2012
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
Help
  • Aquin, P. 1999. Évaluation de la situation des groupes taxonomiques des poissons du Québec. Ministère de l'Environnement et de la Faune. 9 pages.

  • Bakker, T. C. M., and P. Sevenster. 1988. Plate morphs of Gasterosteus aculeatus Linnaeus (Pisces: Gasterosteidae): comments on terminology. Copeia 1988:659-663.

  • Bell, M. A., and G. Orti. 1994. Pelvic reduction in threespine stickleback from Cook Inlet Lakes: geographical distribution and intrapopulation variation. Copeia 1994:314-325.

  • Bell, M. A., and S. A. Foster. 1994. The evolutionary biology of the threespine stickleback. Oxford Univ. Press, New York. xii + 571 pp.

  • Bell, M.A., G. Orti, J.A. Walker and J.P. Koenings. 1993. Evolution of pelvic reduction in threespine stickleback fish: a test of competing hypotheses. Evolution 47:906-914.

  • Bourgeois, J.F., D.M. Blouw, J.P. Koenings and M.A. Bell. 1994. Multivariate analysis of geographic covariance between phenotypes and environments in the threespine stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus, from the Cook Inlet area, Alaska. Canadian Journal of Zoology 72:1497-1509.

  • California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG). 1974. At the crossroads 1974: a report on California's endangered and rare fish and wildlife. Department of Fish and Game, Sacramento, CA.

  • Coad, B. W. 1981. A bibliography of the sticklebacks. Syllogeus 35:1-142.

  • Cooper, E.L. 1983. Fishes of Pennsylvania. Penn State Univ. Press, University Park, PA.

  • Craig, P.C. 1984. Fish use of coastal waters of the Alaskan Beaufort Sea: a review. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 113:265-282.

  • Deagle, B. E., T. E. Reimchen, and D. B. Levin. 1996. Origins of endemic stickleback from the Queen Charlotte Islands: mitochondrial and morphological evidence. Canadian Journal of Zoology 74:1045-1056.

  • Duncan, J.R. 1997. Conservation Status Ranks of the Fishes of Manitoba. Manitoba Conservation Data Centre MS Report 97-02. Winnipeg, MB. 10 pp.

  • Foster, S.A., J.A. Baker and M.A. Bell. 2003. The case for conserving threespine stickleback populations: protecting an adaptive radiation. Fisheries 28:10-18.

  • Fuller, P. 2005. Gasterosteus aculeatus. USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL. Available online at: http://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.asp?SpeciesID=702. Accessed 6/9/05.

  • Fuller, P. L., L. G. Nico, and J. D. Williams. 1999. Nonindigenous fishes introduced into inland waters of the United States. American Fisheries Society, Special Publication 27. x + 613 pp.

  • General Status 2015, Environment Canada. 2015. Manitoba fish species and subnational ranks proposed by DFO.

  • Greenbank, J., and P.R. Nelson. 1959. Life history of the threespine stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus Linnaeus in Karluk Lake and Bare Lake, Kodiak Island, Alaska. Fishery Bulletin 153, Fishery Bulletin of the Fish and Wildlife Service 59:537-559.

  • Haglund, T. R., D. G. Buth, and R. Lawson. 1992. Allozyme variation and phylogenetic relationships of Asian, North American, and European populations of the ninespine stickleback, Pungitius pungitius. Pages 438-452 in R.L. Mayden, editor. Systematics, historical ecology, and North American freshwater fishes. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California. xxvi + 969 pp.

  • Hatfield, T. 2001a. Status of the stickleback species pair, Gasterosteus spp., in Hadley Lake, Lasqueti Island, British Columbia. Canadian Field-Naturalist 115(4):579-583.

  • Hatfield, T. 2001b. Status of the stickleback species pair, Gasterosteus spp., in the Vananda Creek watershed of Texada Island, British Columbia. Canadian Field-Naturalist 115(4):584-590.

  • Hatfield, T., and J. Ptolemy. 2001b. Status of the stickleback species pair, Gasterosteus spp. in Paxton Lake, Texada Island, British Columbia. Can. Field-Nat. 115(4):591-596.

  • Hoover, E.E. (ED.) 1938. Biological Survey of the Merrimack Watershed. Survey Report No.3. New Hampshire Fish and Game Department., Concord. 238 pp.

  • Hynes, H. B. N. 1950. The food of the fresh-water sticklebacks, Gasterosteus aculeatus and Pygosteus pungitius, with a review of methods used in studies of the food of fishes. Journal of Animal Ecology 19(1):182-193.

  • Legendre, V. et J.F. Bergeron. 1977. Liste des poissons d' eau douce du Québec. MLCP, Service Aménage. Expl. Faune. Rap. dact. 6

  • McLennan, D. A. 1993. Phylogenetic relationships in the Gasterostidae: an updated tree based on behavioral characters with a discussion of homoplasy. Copeia 1993:318-326.

  • McPhail, J. D. 1984. Ecology and evolution of sympatric sticklebacks (Gasterosteus): morphological and genetic evidence for a species pair in Enos Lake, British Columbia. Canadian Journal of Zoology 62:1402-1408.

  • McPhail, J. D. 1984. Ecology and evolution of sympatric sticklebacks (GASTEROSTEUS): morphological and genetic evidence for a species pair in Enos Lake, British Columbia. Can. J. Zool. 62:1402-1408.

  • McPhail, J. D. 1989. Status of the Enos Lake stickleback species pair, Gasterosteus spp. Canadian Field-Naturalist 103:216-219.

  • McPhail, J. D. 1992. Ecology and evolution of sympatric sticklebacks (Gasterosteus): evidence for a species-pair in Paxton Lake, Texada, Island, British Columbia. Canadian Journal of Zoology 70:361-369.

  • Metcalfe, C. D. 1989. Tests for predicting carcinogenicity in fish. Reviews in Aquatic Sciences 1(1):111-129.

  • Moyle, P. B. 1976a. Inland fishes of California. University of California Press, Berkeley, California. 405 pp.

  • Moyle, P. B. 1976b. Fish introductions in California: history and impact on native fishes. Biological Conservation 9:101-118.

  • Moyle, P. B. 2002. Inland fishes of California. Revised and expanded. University of California Press, Berkeley. xv + 502 pp.

  • Moyle, P. B., J. E. Williams, and E. D. Wikramanayake. 1989. Fish species of special concern of California. Final report submitted to California Dept. of Fish and Game, Inland Fisheries Division, Rancho Cordova. 222 pp.

  • Nelson, J. S., E. J. Crossman, H. Espinosa-Perez, L. T. Findley, C. R. Gilbert, R. N. Lea, and J. D. Williams. 2004. Common and scientific names of fishes from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. American Fisheries Society, Special Publication 29, Bethesda, Maryland. 386 pp.

  • O'Reilly, P., T.E. Reimchen, R. Beech and C. Strobeck. 1993. Mitochondrial DNA in Gasterosteus and Pleistocene glacial refugium on the Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia. Evolution 47(2):678-684.

  • Orti, G., M.A. Bell, T.E. Reimchen, and A. Meyer. 1994. Global survey of mitochondrial DNA sequences in the threespine stickleback: evidence for recent migrations. Evolution 48:608-622.

  • Page, L. M., H. Espinosa-Pérez, L. T. Findley, C. R. Gilbert, R. N. Lea, N. E. Mandrak, R. L. Mayden, and J. S. Nelson. 2013. Common and scientific names of fishes from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Seventh edition. American Fisheries Society, Special Publication 34, Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Page, L. M., and B. M. Burr. 1991. A field guide to freshwater fishes: North America north of Mexico. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. 432 pp.

  • Page, L. M., and B. M. Burr. 2011. Peterson field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. Second edition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston. xix + 663 pp.

  • Reimchen, T. E. 1992. Extended longevity in a large-bodied stickleback, Gasterosteus, population. Canadian Field-Naturalist 106(1):122-125.

  • Reimchen, T.E. 1984. Status of unarmoured and spine-deficient populations (Charlotte unarmoured stickleback) of threespine stickleback, GASTEROSTEUS sp., on the Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia. Canad. Field-Naturalist 98(1):120-126.

  • Robins, C.R., R.M. Bailey, C.E. Bond, J.R. Brooker, E.A. Lachner, R.N. Lea, and W.B. Scott. 1991. Common and scientific names of fishes from the United States and Canada. American Fisheries Society, Special Publication 20. 183 pp.

  • Ross, S.T. 1973. The systematics of Gasterosteus aculeatus (Pisces: Gasterosteidae) in central and southern California. Contributions in Science 243. Los Angeles Natural History Museum, Los Angeles, CA.

  • Rubidge, E. 2000. Variability within the Gasterosteus species complex in coastal British Columbia. Royal British Columbia Museum, Victoria, B.C.

  • Scarola, J.F. 1973. Freshwater Fishes of New Hampshire. New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. 131 pp.

  • Scott, W. B., and E. J. Crossman. 1973. Freshwater fishes of Canada. Fisheries Research Board of Canada, Bulletin 184. 966 pp.

  • Scott, W.B. and E.J. Crossman. 1979. Freshwater Fishes of Canada. Fisheries Research Board of Canada, Ottawa. 966 pp.

  • Simon, Thomas P. 2011. Fishes of Indiana. Indiana University Press. Bloomington, 345 pp.

  • Smith, C.L. 1985. The Inland Fishes of New York State. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Albany, NY. 522pp.

  • Species at Risk Canada. 2004. Species at risk - Giant Stickleback. Available online at: http://www.speciesatrisk.gc.ca/search/speciesDetails_e.cfm?SpeciesID=97. Accessed 6/13/05.

  • Stephenson, S. A. and W. T. Momot. 2000. Threespine, Gasterosteus aculeatus, and fourspine, Apeltes quadracus, sticklebacks in the Lake Superior basin. Canadian Field-Naturalist 114(2):211-216.

  • Stewart, K.W., McCulloch, B. Hanke, G. and J.R. Duncan. 1995. Preliminary ranking of Manitoba fish. Unpublished notes from an informal ranking workshop held at the University of Manitoba Fish Laboratory. 7 February 1995.

  • Stewart, K.W., and D. A. Watkinson. 2004. The freshwater fishes of Manitoba. University of Manitoba Press. Winnipeg. 276 p.

  • Thompson, C. E., E. B. Taylor, and J. D. McPhail. 1997. Parallel evolution of lake-stream pairs of threespine stcklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus) inferred from mitochondrial DNA variation. Evolution 51:1955-1965.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2002. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; designation of critical habitat for the Unarmored Threespine Stickleback. Federal Register 67(180): 58580-58582 (17 September 2002).

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2005. Species profile for unarmored threespine stickleback. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Endangered Species. Available online at: http://ecos.fws.gov/species_profile/SpeciesProfile?spcode=E00X. Accessed 6/9/05.

  • Werner, R.G. 1980. Freshwater fishes of New York State. N.Y.: Syracuse University Press. 186 pp.

  • Wood, P. M. 2003. Will Canadian policies protect British Columbia's endangered pairs of sympatric sticklebacks? Fisheries 28(5):19-26.

  • Wootton, R. J. 1976. The biology of sticklebacks. Academic Press, London. 387 pp.

  • Wootton, R. J. 1984. A functional biology of sticklebacks. University of California Press, Berkeley, California. 265 pp.

  • Wootton, R.J., and C. Smith. 2000. A long-term study of a short-lived fish: the demography of Gasterosteus aculeatus. Behaviour 137:981-997.

  • von Hippel, F. 2005. Personal communication via email between Frank von Hippel, University of Alaska Anchorage, and Jodi McClory, Alaska Natural Heritage Program regarding divergent threespine stickleback populations occurring in the Cook Inlet area, AK. July 28, 2005.

References for Watershed Distribution Map
  • Cooper, E. L. 1983. Fishes of Pennsylvania and the northeastern United States. Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park. 243 pp.

  • Jenkins, R. E., and N. M. Burkhead. 1994. Freshwater fishes of Virginia. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, Maryland. xxiii + 1079 pp.

  • Lee, D. S., C. R. Gilbert, C. H. Hocutt, R. E. Jenkins, D. E. McAllister, and J. R. Stauffer, Jr. 1980. Atlas of North American freshwater fishes. North Carolina State Museum of Natural History, Raleigh, North Carolina. i-x + 854 pp.

  • Master, L. L. 1996. Synoptic national assessment of comparative risks to biological diversity and landscape types: species distributions. Summary Progress Report submitted to Environmental Protection Agency. The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, Virginia. 60 pp.

  • Master, L. L. and A. L. Stock. 1998. Synoptic national assessment of comparative risks to biological diversity and landscape types: species distributions. Summary Report submitted to Environmental Protection Agency. The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, VA. 36 pp.

  • Smith, C. L. 1985. The inland fishes of New York State. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Albany, New York, xi + 522 pp.

  • State Natural Heritage Data Centers. 1996a. Aggregated element occurrence data from all U.S. state natural heritage programs, including the Tennessee Valley Authority, Navajo Nation and the District of Columbia. Science Division, The Nature Conservancy.

Use Guidelines & Citation

Use Guidelines and Citation

The Small Print: Trademark, Copyright, Citation Guidelines, Restrictions on Use, and Information Disclaimer.

Note: All species and ecological community data presented in NatureServe Explorer at http://explorer.natureserve.org were updated to be current with NatureServe's central databases as of March 2019.
Note: This report was printed on

Trademark Notice: "NatureServe", NatureServe Explorer, The NatureServe logo, and all other names of NatureServe programs referenced herein are trademarks of NatureServe. Any other product or company names mentioned herein are the trademarks of their respective owners.

Copyright Notice: Copyright © 2019 NatureServe, 2511 Richmond (Jefferson Davis) Highway, Suite 930, Arlington, VA 22202, U.S.A. All Rights Reserved. Each document delivered from this server or web site may contain other proprietary notices and copyright information relating to that document. The following citation should be used in any published materials which reference the web site.

Citation for data on website including State Distribution, Watershed, and Reptile Range maps:
NatureServe. 2019. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available http://explorer.natureserve.org. (Accessed:

Citation for Bird Range Maps of North America:
Ridgely, R.S., T.F. Allnutt, T. Brooks, D.K. McNicol, D.W. Mehlman, B.E. Young, and J.R. Zook. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Birds of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Bird Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE."

Citation for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
Patterson, B.D., G. Ceballos, W. Sechrest, M.F. Tognelli, T. Brooks, L. Luna, P. Ortega, I. Salazar, and B.E. Young. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Mammals of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Bruce Patterson, Wes Sechrest, Marcelo Tognelli, Gerardo Ceballos, The Nature Conservancy-Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International-CABS, World Wildlife Fund-US, and Environment Canada-WILDSPACE."

Citation for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe. 2004. Global Amphibian Assessment. IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe, Washington, DC and Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
"Data developed as part of the Global Amphibian Assessment and provided by IUCN-World Conservation Union, Conservation International and NatureServe."

NOTE: Full metadata for the Bird Range Maps of North America is available at:
http://www.natureserve.org/library/birdDistributionmapsmetadatav1.pdf.

Full metadata for the Mammal Range Maps of North America is available at:
http://www.natureserve.org/library/mammalsDistributionmetadatav1.pdf.

Restrictions on Use: Permission to use, copy and distribute documents delivered from this server is hereby granted under the following conditions:
  1. The above copyright notice must appear in all copies;
  2. Any use of the documents available from this server must be for informational purposes only and in no instance for commercial purposes;
  3. Some data may be downloaded to files and altered in format for analytical purposes, however the data should still be referenced using the citation above;
  4. No graphics available from this server can be used, copied or distributed separate from the accompanying text. Any rights not expressly granted herein are reserved by NatureServe. Nothing contained herein shall be construed as conferring by implication, estoppel, or otherwise any license or right under any trademark of NatureServe. No trademark owned by NatureServe may be used in advertising or promotion pertaining to the distribution of documents delivered from this server without specific advance permission from NatureServe. Except as expressly provided above, nothing contained herein shall be construed as conferring any license or right under any NatureServe copyright.
Information Warranty Disclaimer: All documents and related graphics provided by this server and any other documents which are referenced by or linked to this server are provided "as is" without warranty as to the currentness, completeness, or accuracy of any specific data. NatureServe hereby disclaims all warranties and conditions with regard to any documents provided by this server or any other documents which are referenced by or linked to this server, including but not limited to all implied warranties and conditions of merchantibility, fitness for a particular purpose, and non-infringement. NatureServe makes no representations about the suitability of the information delivered from this server or any other documents that are referenced to or linked to this server. In no event shall NatureServe be liable for any special, indirect, incidental, consequential damages, or for damages of any kind arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information contained in any documents provided by this server or in any other documents which are referenced by or linked to this server, under any theory of liability used. NatureServe may update or make changes to the documents provided by this server at any time without notice; however, NatureServe makes no commitment to update the information contained herein. Since the data in the central databases are continually being updated, it is advisable to refresh data retrieved at least once a year after its receipt. The data provided is for planning, assessment, and informational purposes. Site specific projects or activities should be reviewed for potential environmental impacts with appropriate regulatory agencies. If ground-disturbing activities are proposed on a site, the appropriate state natural heritage program(s) or conservation data center can be contacted for a site-specific review of the project area (see Visit Local Programs).

Feedback Request: NatureServe encourages users to let us know of any errors or significant omissions that you find in the data through (see Contact Us). Your comments will be very valuable in improving the overall quality of our databases for the benefit of all users.