Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Natural Resources

First Advisor

Jason Stockwell


Coregonines, including cisco (Coregonus artedi), kiyi (Coregonus kiyi), and bloater (Coregonus hoyi), are a focus for prey fish conservation and restoration efforts throughout the Laurentian Great Lakes. However, fundamental questions about coregonine ecology and genetics remain. For example, we know little about how the early life stages of coregonines respond to environmental change at either the genotypic or phenotypic level. We also have limited knowledge about how to identify different species at the larval stage and the genetic relationships among species, which makes the different species difficult to study at the larval stage. To increase the probability for success in restoration efforts, current and future research need to integrate traditional and novel approaches to better understand what leads to current and future coregonine successes. We used DNA and RNA omics tools, genomics and transcriptomics to boost our comprehension of current coregonine populations and to help understand how C. artedi may respond to environmental change. During the winter of 2017, we conducted a pilot experiment to evaluate how C. artedi eggs may respond to increased light exposure resulting from current and expected reductions in annual ice and snow cover due to global warming. We used transcriptomics to assess differences in gene expression between a continuous light and continuous dark treatment. Our results indicate that light is an environmental factor that could lead to earlier hatch dates, smaller yolk sacs, changes in mortality and differential gene expression in metabolic related and other functionally important genes. In 2018, we sampled larval coregonines in the Apostle Islands of Lake Superior each week from hatch in May until late July. We used genomic sequencing to genetically identify 197 larvae to species: C. artedi, C. hoyi, and C. kiyi. The larval demographic characteristics of each species was assessed and revealed that length ranges, growth rates, yolk sac condition, and effective population size varied among species. Larvae of all three species were found throughout the entirety of the Apostle Islands and the genetic diversity within each species appears high. The results from our pilot experiment and field observations help advance our understanding of the important early life stages of coregonines and how changes in light exposure or growth rates could affect their success or failure in a changing climate.



Number of Pages

99 p.