Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

A science and management partnership to restore coregonine diversity to the Laurentian Great Lakes

May 31, 2023
Similar to many freshwater ecosystems, the Laurentian Great Lakes of North America have undergone numerous anthropogenic stressors resulting in considerable loss of biodiversity and habitat. Among Great Lakes fishes, the coregonine sub-family has endured the most extensive declines, including extinction of several species (Coregonus johannae, C. alpenae, and C. kiyi orientalis) and at least 10 instances of local extirpations of other species (C. nigripinnis, C. reighardi, C. zenithicus, C. hoyi, and C. artedi) across all 5 lakes, much of which occurred prior to the 1960s owing to overfishing, interactions with non-indigenous species, and habitat loss. Despite these declines, no federal-, provincial-, or state-mandated actions were ever implemented to conserve coregonine diversity, potentially because so much of the coregonine declines occurred prior to the enactment of federal conservation legislation. Possible explanations for inaction since enactment of that legislation include insufficient data on biological vulnerability or threats, unresolved taxonomy, and limited support from the fishery management agencies and their stakeholders prior to the 2000s. In recent decades, however, several fishery management agencies have undertaken efforts to re-introduce coregonine diversity. These efforts helped lead to development of a science-based framework to restore coregonines that was universally endorsed by fishery managers representing eight U.S. states, four U.S. tribal organizations, and the province of ON, Canada, in May 2018. The basin-wide framework is based on principles of conservation biology and adaptive management. We describe details of its key steps, including planning, restoring, and evaluating, while also describing recent implementation efforts to develop methods, improve available resources, and enhance coordination across the basin. Although our paper describes a regional effort to restore native coregonines, our adaptive-management approach could be used by other multi-agency stakeholders seeking to conserve or restore native fishes.
Publication Year 2023
Title A science and management partnership to restore coregonine diversity to the Laurentian Great Lakes
DOI 10.1139/er-2022-0109
Authors David Bunnell, Amanda Susanne Ackiss, Karen M Alofs, Cory Brant, Charles R. Bronte, Randall M. Claramunt, John M. Dettmers, Andrew Edgar Honsey, Nicholas E. Mandrak, Andrew M. Muir, Victor Santucci, David R. Smith, Russell M. Strach, John A. Sweka, Brian C. Weidel, William Mattes, Kurt R. Newman
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Environmental Reviews
Index ID 70244135
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Great Lakes Science Center; Leetown Science Center