Coregonus clupeaformis - (Mitchill, 1818)
Lake Whitefish
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Coregonus clupeaformis (Mitchill, 1818) (TSN 161941)
French Common Names: grand corégone
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.105498
Element Code: AFCHA01040
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Fishes - Bony Fishes - Salmon and Trouts
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Actinopterygii Salmoniformes Salmonidae Coregonus
Genus Size: D - Medium to large genus (21+ 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: Coregonus clupeaformis
Taxonomic Comments: "Squanga whitefish" (restricted to 4 Yukon lakes) was regarded as distinct from C. clupeaformis by Bodaly et al. (1988).

In eastern Canada and northern Maine, dwarf and normal phenotypes exist in sympatry and allopatry; mtDNA restriction analysis revealed two monophyletic assemblages, one with a western distribution (normal phenotype) and one with an eastern distribution (normal phenotype in allopatric populations, dwarf phenotype where sympatric with western form in Allegash basin); weak mtDNA differences occur between sympatric pairs; apparently these two groups evolved in separate glacial refugia and have speciated with only minor alterations of the ancestral gene pool (Bernatchez and Dodson 1990). A range-wide analysis of mtDNA indicated the existence of four distinct phylogeographic assemblages: a Berigean assemblage, confined to Yukon and Alaska; an Acadian assemblage, confined to se. North America; an Atlantic assemblage, confined to southern Quebec and the northeastern U.S., and also observed in anadromous populations of northern Hudson Bay; and a Mississippian assemblage, occupying most of the species' range, from the Mackenzie delta to Labrador (Bernatchez and Dodson 1991).

Pigeon et al. (1997) examined mtDNA variation among seven sympatric pairs of dwarf and normal morphotypes from northern Quebec and the St. John River drainage; the hypothesis of genetic differentiation was supported for all sympatic pairs from the St. John River drainage, but lack of mtDNA diversity precluded any test of reproductive isolation for northern Quebec populations; the data for the St. John River drainage indicated a complex picture of evolution that implied sympatric divergence and multiple allopatric divergence/secondary contact events on a small geographic scale; trophic niche availability may promote population divergence in whitefish.

Page and Burr (1991) and Mecklenburg et al. (2002) recognized C. nelsonii (Alaska whitefish) as a distinct species but Nelson et al. (2004) did not. Nelson et al. (2004) stated that several nominal species probably are conspecific with C. clupeaformis but could prove to be valid (e.g., C. nelsonii).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 17Aug2015
Global Status Last Changed: 09Sep1996
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 (28Dec2017)

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), Illinois (S1S2), Indiana (S4), Maine (S4), Michigan (S4), Minnesota (SNR), Montana (SU), Nevada (SNA), New Hampshire (S3), New York (S4), North Dakota (SNR), Ohio (S3), Pennsylvania (S1), South Dakota (SNA), Vermont (S4?), Washington (SNA), Wisconsin (S5)
Canada Alberta (S5), British Columbia (S5), Labrador (S5), Manitoba (S5), New Brunswick (S4), Newfoundland Island (SNA), Northwest Territories (S4S5), Nova Scotia (SNA), Nunavut (S5B,SNRN,SNRM), Ontario (S5), Quebec (S5), Saskatchewan (S5), Yukon Territory (S5)

Other Statuses

Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC): Candidate (Low) (10Jul2017)

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: >2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Range includes Atlantic, Arctic, and Pacific basins in most of Canada and Alaska, south to northern New England, Great Lakes region, and central Minnesota; this species has been introduced as a forage and food fish in Montana, Idaho, and Washington (Page and Burr 2011).

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

Population Size: >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but quite large. This species is locally common (Page and Burr 2011).

Overall Threat Impact Comments: This species declined in Lake Michigan due to overfishing, pollution, and effects of sea lamprey and alewife; lamprey control and more stringent fishing regulations have resulted in recent population increases (Herkert 1992).

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: Trend over the past 10 years or three generations is uncertain but likely relatively stable.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) Range includes Atlantic, Arctic, and Pacific basins in most of Canada and Alaska, south to northern New England, Great Lakes region, and central Minnesota; this species has been introduced as a forage and food fish in Montana, Idaho, and Washington (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, IDexotic, IL, IN, ME, MI, MN, MTnative and exotic, ND, NH, NVexotic, NY, OH, PA, SDexotic, VT, WAexotic, WI
Canada AB, BC, LB, MB, NB, NFexotic, NSexotic, NT, NU, ON, QC, SK, YT

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
NH Belknap (33001), Carroll (33003), Coos (33007)*, Grafton (33009), Rockingham (33015)*
OH Erie (39043)*, Lucas (39095)*, Ottawa (39123)*
PA Erie (42049)
* 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), West Branch Penobscot (01020001), East Branch Penobscot (01020002), Lower Penobscot (01020005), Upper Kennebec (01030001), Upper Androscoggin (01040001)+, St. Croix (01050001), Maine Coastal (01050002), Saco (01060002)+, Pemigewasset (01070001)+, Merrimack (01070002)+, Contoocook (01070003), Merrimack (01070006)+*, Upper Connecticut (01080101), Middle Connecticut (01080201)
02 Lake George (02010001)*, Otter (02010002), Winooski (02010003), Ausable (02010004), Lamoille (02010005), Great Chazy-Saranac (02010006), Missisquoi (02010007), Upper Hudson (02020001), Sacandaga (02020002), Hudson-Hoosic (02020003), Mohawk (02020004), Middle Hudson (02020006), Lower Hudson (02030101)
04 Baptism-Brule (04010101), Bad-Montreal (04010302), Black-Presque Isle (04020101), Ontonagon (04020102), Keweenaw Peninsula (04020103), Dead-Kelsey (04020105), Betsy-Chocolay (04020201), Waiska (04020203), Lake Superior (04020300), Manitowoc-Sheboygan (04030101), Brule (04030106), Menominee (04030108), Cedar-Ford (04030109), Wolf (04030202)*, Little Calumet-Galien (04040001), Pike-Root (04040002)*, Betsie-Platte (04060104), Boardman-Charlevoix (04060105), Lake Michigan (04060200), Lone Lake-Ocqueoc (04070003), Au Gres-Rifle (04080101), Kawkawlin-Pine (04080102), Pigeon-Wiscoggin (04080103), Lake Huron (04080300), Cedar-Portage (04100010), Sandusky (04100011)*, Huron-Vermilion (04100012)*, Chautauqua-Conneaut (04120101), Lake Erie (04120200)+, Lower Genesee (04130003), Salmon-Sandy (04140102), Seneca (04140201), Black (04150101), Chaumont-Perch (04150102)*, Lake Ontario (04150200)*, Indian (04150303)*, Raquette (04150305), St. Regis (04150306)*
07 Mississippi Headwaters (07010101), Leech Lake (07010102), Elk-Nokasippi (07010104), Pine (07010105), Upper Chippewa (07050001), Flambeau (07050002)*, Red Cedar (07050007)
09 Red Lakes (09020302), Rainy Headwaters (09030001), Rainy Lake (09030003), Upper Rainy (09030004), Rapid (09030007), Lower Rainy (09030008)
+ 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. Eggs hatch in early spring. Sexually mature in 5-7 years in some areas, in 2-4 years in other areas. In e. Canada and northern Maine, dwarf form individuals mature by the age of 1 or 2 years and seldom live beyond their 4th year; individuals of the normal morphotype do not mature until their 4th year and may reach 12 years of age; a difference in spawning time of 3-4 weeks provides a partial barrier to gene flow in sympatric populations (Bernatchez and Dodson 1990).
Habitat Type: Freshwater
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Estuarine Habitat(s): River mouth/tidal river
Riverine Habitat(s): BIG RIVER, MEDIUM RIVER
Lacustrine Habitat(s): Deep water, Shallow water
Habitat Comments: Habitat includes lakes and large rivers; this is a cool water species that may enter brackish water in some areas (Lee et al. 1980, Page and Burr 2011). Spawning occurs usually in shallow water over a hard or stony bottom, but sometimes over sand and sometimes in deeper water (Scott and Crossman 1973).
Adult Food Habits: Invertivore, Piscivore
Immature Food Habits: Invertivore, Piscivore
Food Comments: Adults usually eat bottom-dwelling invertebrates and small fishes; in some regions they eat plankton or terrestrial insects at surface, also fishes and their eggs and fry. Young eat mainly planktonic crustaceans.
Length: 80 centimeters
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Nonanadromous Salmonids

Use Class: Not applicable
Subtype(s): Spawning 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.
Mapping Guidance: Conceptually, the occurrence includes the entire area used by the population, including spawning, rearing, migration, and wintering areas. Occupied locations that are separated by a gap of 10 km or more of any aquatic habitat that is not known to be occupied represent different occurrences. However, it is important to evaluate migrations and seasonal changes in habitat (see separation justification) to ensure that spawning areas and nonspawning areas for a single population are not artificially segregated as different occurrences simply because there have been no collections/observations in an intervening area that may exceed the separation distance.
Separation Barriers: Dam lacking a suitable fishway; high waterfall; upland habitat.
Alternate Separation Procedure: 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 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: Separation distance is arbitrary; little is known about juvenile dispersal (e.g., how far fishes may move between between their embryonic developmental habitat and eventual spawning site). "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).

Migrations can be extensive. For example, in the Kennebecasis River, New Brunswick, brook trout moved upstream 65-100 km in spring after ice loss; summer movements were minimal; movements to spawning areas in fall were less than 10 km, then the fish moved back downstream to wintering areas in the lower to middle reaches of the river (Curry et al. 2002).

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: 11Mar2003
Author: Hammerson, G.
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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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 04Nov2011
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 04Nov2011
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.

  • Atton, F.M. and J.J. Merkowsky. 1983. Atlas of Saskatchewan Fish. Saskatchewan Department of Parks and Renewable Resources, Fisheries Branch Technical Report 83-2. 281pp.

  • Becker, G. C. 1983. Fishes of Wisconsin. Univ. Wisconsin Press, Madison. 1052 pp.

  • Bernatchez, L., and J. J. Dodson. 1990. Allopatric origin of sympatric populations of lake whitefish (COREGONUS CLUPEAFORMIS) as revealed by mitochondrial-DNA restriction analysis. Evolution 44:1263-1271.

  • Bernatchez, L., and J. J. Dodson. 1991. Phylogeographic structure in mitochondrial DNA of the lake whitefish (COREGONUS CLUPEAFORMIS) and its relation to Pleistocene glaciations. Evolution 45:1016-1035.

  • Bodaly, R. A., J. W. Clayton, and C. C. Lindsey. 1988. Status of the Squanga whitefish, COREGONUS sp., in the Yukon Territory, Canada. Canadian Field-Nat. 102:114-125.

  • Fisheries Branch. 1991. Fish Species Distributions in Saskatchewan. Report 91-7. Saskatchewan Parks and Renewable Resources, Fisheries Branch. Regina. 102pp.

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

  • George, C.J. 1980. The fishes of the Adirondack Park. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Albany, NY 94 pp.

  • Hart, J. L. 1930. The spawning and early life history of the whitefish, Coregonus clupeaformis (Mitchill) in the Bay of Quinte, Ontario. Contributions to Canadian Biology and Fisheries 6(7):165-214.

  • Herkert, J. R., editor. 1992. Endangered and threatened species of Illinois: status and distribution. Vol. 2: Animals. Illinois Endangered Species Protection Board. iv + 142 pp.

  • Koelz, W. 1931. The coregonid fishes of northeastern America. Papers of the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts and Letters 13:303-342.

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

  • Lindsey, C. C., and C. S. Woods, eds. 1970. Biology of coregonid fishes. University of Manitoba Press, Winnepeg.

  • Mecklenburg, C. W., T. A. Mecklenburg, and L. K. Thorsteinson. 2002. Fishes of Alaska. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, Maryland. xxxvii + 1,037 pp.

  • Natural Resources Commission. 2014. Roster of Indiana Animals, Insects, and Plants That Are Extirpated, Endangered, Threatened or Rare. Information Bulletin #2 (Sixth Amendment. 20pp.

  • 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.J. 1976. The relationship of age, growth, and food habits to the relative success of the whitefish, Coregonus clupeaformis, and the cisco, C. artedii, in Otsego Lake, New York. Occas. Pap. Biol. Field Sta. (Cooperstown, N.Y.) 2, vii + 68 pp

  • Nielsen, J. L., editor. 1995. Evolution and the aquatic ecosystem: defining unique units in population conservation. American Fisheries Society Symposium 17, Bethesda, Maryland. xii + 435 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.

  • Pigeon, D., A. Chouinard, and L. Bernatchez. 1997. Multiple modes of speciation involved in the parallel evolution of sympatric morphotypes of lake whitefish (COREGONUS CLUPEAFORMIS, Salmonidae). Evolution 51:196-205.

  • 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.

  • Scott, W.B. and E.J. Crossman. 1979. Freshwater Fishes of Canada. Fisheries Research Board of Canada. Bull. 84. 966pp.

  • 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.

  • Van Oosten, J.J. and H.J. Deason. 1939. The age, growth, and feeding habits of the whitefish, Coregonus clupeaformis (Mitchill) of Lake Champlain. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 68(1938):152-162.

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

References for Watershed Distribution Map
  • Becker, G. C. 1983. Fishes of Wisconsin. University of Wisconsin Press, Madison. 1,052 pp.

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

  • Fago, D. 2000. Relative abundance and distribution of fishes in Wisconsin. Fish Distribution Database to year 2000. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

  • 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.

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

  • Smith, P. W. 1979. The fishes of Illinois. University of Illinois Press, Urbana. 314 pp.

  • Trautman, M. B. 1981. The fishes of Ohio. Second edition. Ohio State University Press, Columbus, Ohio. 782 pp.

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