Salvelinus alpinus - (Linnaeus, 1758)
Arctic Char
Other English Common Names: Arctic Charr
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Salvelinus alpinus (Linnaeus, 1758) (TSN 162001)
French Common Names: omble chevalier
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.101565
Element Code: AFCHA05010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Fishes - Bony Fishes - Salmon and Trouts
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Actinopterygii Salmoniformes Salmonidae Salvelinus
Genus Size: C - Small genus (6-20 species)
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Concept Reference
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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: Salvelinus alpinus
Taxonomic Comments: The Arctic char has a holarctic distribution and exhibits a complex pattern of variability in morphology, coloration, ecology, and life history (Behnke 1972), molded by glacial events during the Pleistocene.

Brunner et al. (2001) examined phylogeography of the Salvelinus alpinus complex using mtDNA sequences. They assigned the 63 observed haplotypes to five geographic regions that may be associated with different glacial refugia. Patterns of genetic variation did not entirely reflect the magnitude of phenotypic and ecological polymorphism in the S. alpinus complex, and not all taxa suggested by current taxonomy could be confirmed. Major groups were observed, but additional distinct lineages were also identified. There was a clear distinction between Acadian (Maine, southern Quebec) and Arctic (arctic North America, Alaska, Kamchatka Peninsula) populations, supporting current taxonomy that recognizes them as different subspecies, S. a. oquassa and S. a. erythrinus. Subspecies oquassa comprises landlocked populations from southeastern Quebec, New Brunswick, and the northeastern United States. Salvelinus a. erythrinus comprises an arctic group and a newly identified Siberian group. Salvelinus a. taranetzi is included in the Arctic cluster, but it exhibits a distinct and unique haplotype, supporting Behnke's (1984) suggestion that it be recognized as a distinct taxon. The Beringean group, formed entirely by specimens assigned to S. malma (Dolly Varden), encompassed the area formerly assigned to Salvelinus a. taranetzi; the Beringean group could not be confirmed as the sister taxon to all other Salvelinus alpinus, and the species status of S. malma was regarded as questionable. Five nominal subspecies fell into the Siberian group and all were genetically undifferentiated.

Sunapee, blueback (or blue backed), and Quebec red trouts, here included in Salvelinus alpinus, have been regarded as distinct species by some authors. Subspecies AUREOLUS was synonymized with subspecies oquassa by Qadri (1974).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 10May2016
Global Status Last Changed: 12Sep1996
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - 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), Idaho (SNA), Maine (S2), New Hampshire (SX), Vermont (SX)
Canada Labrador (S5), Manitoba (S3), New Brunswick (S1), Newfoundland Island (S4), Northwest Territories (S4S5), Nunavut (S3B,SNRN,SNRM), Ontario (SU), Prince Edward Island (SNA), Quebec (S4), Saskatchewan (SNA), Yukon Territory (S1)

Other Statuses

Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC): Candidate (Low) (26Jan2015)
IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Circumpolar; in North America, Newfoundland to Alaska, south to southern Alaska and Maine/New Hampshire. Seldom more than 300 km from ocean. Has the most northern range of any North American freshwater fish (Page and Burr 1991). Locally abundant.

Number of Occurrences:  
Number of Occurrences Comments: This species is represented by a large number of subpopulations and locations.

Population Size Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but relatively large.

Overall Threat Impact Comments: Localized threats may exist, but on a range-wide scale no major threats are known.

Short-term Trend Comments: Trend over the past 10 years or three generations is uncertain but likely relatively stable or slowly declining.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: Circumpolar; in North America, Newfoundland to Alaska, south to southern Alaska and Maine/New Hampshire. Seldom more than 300 km from ocean. Has the most northern range of any North American freshwater fish (Page and Burr 1991). Locally abundant.

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, IDexotic, ME, NHextirpated, VTextirpated
Canada LB, MB, NB, NF, NT, NU, ON, PEexotic, QC, SKexotic, YTnative and exotic

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
VT Essex (50009)*
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
01 Fish (01010003), Aroostook (01010004), West Branch Penobscot (01020001), East Branch Penobscot (01020002), Piscataquis (01020004), Upper Androscoggin (01040001), Maine Coastal (01050002), St. Francois (01110000)*
04 St. Francois River (04150500)+*
+ 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
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Reproduction Comments: Spawns in fall (peaks last 2 weeks of October in Labrador). Eggs hatch in spring. In Labrador, most females are sexually mature by 8 years, a few at 3 years (spawning migrants are 3-18 years old) (Dempson and Green 1985). Individuals spawn at 2-3-year intervals in north, yearly in south.
Habitat Type: Freshwater
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: Y
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: Some populations are anadromous, and some of these are sympatric with resident freshwater populations. No evidence of extensive marine migrations in Fraser River, Labrador, population; upstream migration begins mid-July, extends to late September (Dempson and Green 1985).
Marine Habitat(s): Near shore
Estuarine Habitat(s): Bay/sound, River mouth/tidal river
Riverine Habitat(s): BIG RIVER, Low gradient, MEDIUM RIVER, Pool
Lacustrine Habitat(s): Deep water, Shallow water
Special Habitat Factors: Benthic
Habitat Comments: Coastal; usually not far inland except in large rivers (isolated in some lakes). Deep runs and pools of medium to large rivers and lakes. Some populations are anadromous; the young spend up to several years in the river, go to sea for summer, then return to the river each year for fall-spring. Spawning occurs in quiet pools in rivers or over gravel or rocky shoals in lakes. Eggs are buried in a nest on the bottom, from which the young emerge in summer a few months after hatching (Scott and Crossman 1973).
Adult Food Habits: Invertivore, Piscivore
Immature Food Habits: Invertivore, Piscivore
Food Comments: Varied diet of amphipods, mysids, fishes, and other small animals; opportunistic feeder (Scott and Crossman 1973).
Length: 96 centimeters
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Management Requirements: Based on studies of microsatellite loci, Bernatchez et al. (2002) recommended that each population in Maine be treated as a separate management unit in order to maximize the presevation of genetic variability within the Laurentian arctic char ESU.
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Fishes with Anadromous Populations

Use Class: Freshwater
Subtype(s): Rearing & Migration Area, Spawning & Rearing Area
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. For anadromous populations, occurrences are based on collection or reliable observation and documentation of one or more spawning adults, redds, other evidence of spawning, or larvae or juveniles in appropriate spawning/rearing habitat.
Mapping Guidance: Conceptually, the occurrence includes the entire freshwater area used by the population, including spawning, rearing, and migration areas. For anadromous populations, an occurrence should extend from the most upstream spawning areas downstream to the ocean. However, it is desirable (and practical) to subdivide this sometimes very large occurrence, sometimes overlapping with many other spaghetti-like occurrences extending down from the upstream spawning areas to the ocean, into separate source features or sub-occurrences, labeled with a feature label that reflects the life history stage in that area. Moreover, it may make practical sense to treat the areas downstream of spawning and/or rearing areas as a mixed element animal assemblage: Freshwater Salmon Migration Corridor. This negates the need to separately map each occurrence down to the ocean from its upstream spawning location. Information about areas with different life-history uses can be generated by using best professional judgment by district or regional fish biologists and may or may not incorporate specific locational information from spawning surveys or other surveys.
Separation Barriers: Dam lacking a suitable fishway; high waterfall; upland habitat that is very unlikely to be submerged even during periods of exceptionally high water (e.g., 100-year flood or 1% flood).
Alternate Separation Procedure: For anadromous populations and migratory populations that have distinct and separate spawning and nonspawning areas, the area used by each population whose spawning area is separated by a gap of at least 10 stream-km from other spawning areas within a stream system is potentially mappable as a distinct occurrence that extends down to the ocean (but see mapping guidance), regardless of whether the spawning areas are in the same or different tributaries.

For other (e.g., nonanadromous) populations in streams, separation distance is 10 stream-km for both suitable and unsuitable habitat. However, if it is known that the same population occupies sites separated by more than 10 km (e.g., this may be common for migratory, nonanadromous populations), those sites should be included within the same occurrence. In lakes, occurrences include all suitable habitat that is presumed to be occupied (based on expert judgment), even if documented collection/observation points are more than 10 km apart. Separate sub-occurrences or source features may usefully document locations of critical spawning areas within a lake.

Separation Justification: The separation distance is arbitrary but was selected to ensure that occurrences are of manageable size but not too small. 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.

"Restricted movement is the norm in populations of stream salmonids during nonmigratory periods," but there is considerable variation in movements within and among species (Rodriguez 2002). Redband trout in Montana had October-December home ranges of 5-377 m, consistent with small movements observed for radio-tagged brook trout and cutthroat trout during fall and winter (Muhlfeld et al. 2001). For nonanadromous populations, little is known about juvenile dispersal (e.g., how far fishes may move between between their embryonic developmental habitat and eventual spawning site).

In summer and fall, radio-tagged cutthroat trout in Strawberry Reservoir in Utah had single-month home ranges that were usually about 3-4 km in maximum length (Baldwin et al. 2002). In the Blackfoot River drainage, Montana, radio-tagged westslope cutthroat trout moved 3-72 km (mean 31 km) to access spawning tributaries (Schmetterling 2001). This indicates that migratory but nonanadromous populations may use extensive areas and that one should not invoke the 10-km separation distance without considering the full extent of the population.

Date: 25Nov2009
Author: Hammerson, G., and L. Master
Notes: This Specs Group comprises fish species that include anadromous populations (may also include nonanadromous populations), such as lampreys, sturgeons, herrings, shads, salmonids, and smelts.

Criteria for marine occurrences (Location Use Class: Marine) have not yet been established. These may not be needed for marine occurrences of species that likely will be dealt with as mixed element assemblages (e.g., Salmonid Marine Concentration Area).

Feature Descriptor Definitions:

Spawning Area: area used for spawning but not for rearing or migration.

Rearing Area: area used for larval/juvenile development but not for spawning or migration.

Migration Corridor: area used for migration but not for rearing or spawning.

Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 15May2001
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
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  • Aquin, P. 1999. Évaluation de la situation des groupes taxonomiques des poissons du Québec. Ministère de l'Environnement et de la Faune. 9 pages.

  • Behnke, R. J 1972. The systematics of salmonid fishes of recently glaciated lakes. Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada 29:639-671.

  • Bernatchez, L., J. G. Rhydderch, and F. W. Kircheis. 2002. Microsatellite gene diversity analysis in landlocked arctic char from Maine. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 131:1006-1118.

  • Brunner, P. C., M. R. Douglas, A. Osinov, C. C. Wilson, and L. Bernatchez. 2001. Holarctic phylogeography of Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus L.) inferred from mitochondrial DNA sequences. Evolution 55:573-586.

  • Dempson, J. B., and J. M. Green. 1985. Life history of anadromous arctic charr, Salvelinus alpinus, in the Fraser River, northern Labrador. Canadian Journal of Zoology 63(2):315-324.

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

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

  • Johnson, L., and B. Burns, eds. 1985. Biology of the Arctic charr: Proceedings of the International Symposium on Arctic charr. University of Manitoba Press, Winnipeg. 584 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.

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

  • Marshall, T.L. and R.P. Johnson. 1971. History and results of fish introductions in Saskatchewan: 1900 - 1969. Fisheries Report No 8. Fisheries and Wildlife Branch, Department of Natural Resources, Province of Saskatchewan.

  • Miller, R. R., J. D. Williams, and J. E. Williams. 1989. Extinctions of North American fishes during the past century. Fisheries 14(6):22-38.

  • 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.

  • Newell, A.E. 1958. The Life History and Ecology of the Sunapee Trout, SALVELINUS AUREOLUS (BEAN). NH Fish and Game Department. 15 pp.

  • 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.

  • Qadri, S. U. 1974. Taxonomic status of the Salvelinus alpinus complex. Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada 31(8):1355-1361.

  • Qadri, S.U. 1974. Taxonomic Status of the SALVALINUS ALPINUS Complex. J. Fish Res. Board Can., 31(8):1355-1361.

  • 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.

  • Rodriguez, M. A. 2002. Restricted movement in stream fish: the paradigm is complete, not lost. Ecology 83(1):1-13.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Wildlife Management Information System (WMIS). 2006+. Geo-referenced wildlife datasets (1900 to present) from all projects conducted by Environment and Natural Resources, Government of the Northwest Territories, Canada.  Available at http://www.enr.gov.nt.ca/programs/wildlife-research/wildlife-management-information-services

  • Williams, J.E, J.E. Johnson, D.A. Hendrickson, S. Contreras-Balderas, J.D. Williams, M. Navarro-Mendoza, D.E. McAllister, and J.E. Deacon. 1989b. Fishes of North America endangered, threatened or of special concern: 1989. Fisheries 14(6):2-20.

References for Watershed Distribution Map
  • NatureServe. No Date. Full species reconciliation of subspecies-by-watershed source data for freshwater fish, mussel and crayfish for use in the watershed distribution databases.

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