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Kiyi (Upper Great Lakes Population)

Kiyi (Upper Great Lakes Population)
   Photo: University of Michigan Museum of Zoology

Features: The Kiyi (Coregonus kiyi kiyi) is one of the smaller deepwater ciscoes (total length 25 cm) from the Great Lakes basin. They share very similar physical characteristics with other cisco species, such as silvery sides with pink or purple iridescence, dark backs and white undersides. However, they are differentiated from other cisco species based on a unique combination of large eyes and long paired fins. They dwell in the deep waters of the Great Lakes at depths of 35-200m, but are usually found at depths of more than 100m.

Based on morphological differences and distinct, separate populations, the Kiyi was divided into two subspecies by COSEWIC in 2005. The Upper Great Lakes Kiyi (Coregonus kiyi kiyi) is distinguished from the Lake Ontario subspecies of Kiyi (Coregonus kiyi orientalis) by fewer gill-rakers, longer paired fins, and a longer head (Koelz, 1929). It was found in lakes Superior, Huron and Michigan, but was declared extirpated from Lake Huron in 1973 and Lake Michigan in 1974. The remaining population in Lake Superior appears to be stable, and supports a small, regulated fishery.

Status: Special Concern Provincially and Nationally

Range: The Kiyi was endemic to all of the Laurentian Great Lakes of North America except Lake Erie. In Ontario, Coregonus kiyi kiyi is now found only in Lake Superior.

Threats: The Upper Great Lakes Kiyi population likely declined due to intense commercial fishing. Other factors that may have contributed to this decline include competition from Rainbow Smelt, Osmerus mordax and Alewife, Alosa pseudoharengus, and from eutrophication of their habitat, which can result in shortage of oxygen in deep water.

Protection: The Kiyi and its habitat are protected under the federal Fisheries Act.

Text Sources: COSEWIC 2005; Todd 1997; Parker 1989; Scott and Crossman 1973

Last Modified Date: March 2008

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