Kiyi are found only in the Great Lakes between the United States and Canada. They are commonly found in Lake Superior but are rare in Lake Huron and Lake Ontario and endangered in Lake Michigan. None are found in Lake Erie. COSEWIC considers this species to be extirpated in all Great Lakes except Lake Superior. ("Assessment and Update Status Report on the Lake Ontario Kiyi and Upper Great Lakes Kiyi", 2005; Eakins, 2011; Froese, et al., 2011)
Found only in the Laurentian Great Lakes of North America, kiyi require a freshwater climate and reside at depths of 35 to 200 m. Although they are occasionally found in shallower waters, kiyi prefer waters of at least 108 m in depth. They are found in water of temperatures ranging from 3.7 to 4.6˚C. Kiyi live in clear, dark water and have been collected over bottoms of clay and mud substrate. ("Assessment and Update Status Report on the Lake Ontario Kiyi and Upper Great Lakes Kiyi", 2005; Carlander, 1969; Eakins, 2011; Froese, et al., 2011)
- Habitat Regions
- Aquatic Biomes
- Range depth
- 200 to 35 m
- 656.17 to 114.83 ft
Kiyi are long, thin, elliptically shaped, and laterally compressed fish. They are covered in large silvery scales. Although coloration varies, they are generally dark on the top, silvery on the side, and white on the underside. Purple and pink iridescence is noticeable. Kiyi average 25 cm in length and can range from 12 to 35 cm in length. The head comprises roughly a quarter of the length. They have large eyes, and the lower jaw may protrude beyond the upper jaw or be terminal. Gill rakers are medium to long and number from 40 to 45. The spine is comprised of 55 to 58 vertebrae, and their lateral line has 71 to 91 scales. Kiyi have 9 to 11 dorsal soft rays, 9 to 16 anal soft rays, 15 to 18 pectoral soft rays, 11 to 12 pelvic soft rays, and a forked caudal fin. Kiyi weigh between 0.4 and 0.16 kg. Kiyi are similiar in appearance to other species of whitefish, but are easily distinguished by their large eyes and paired fins. (Froese, et al., 2011; Hubbs and Lagler, 2004; "Kiyi (Upper Great Lakes Population)", 2008; "Kiyi (Coregonus kiyi)", 2009a)
There are two subspecies of kiyi, upper Great Lakes kiyi (Coregonus kiyi kiyi), located in Lake Superior, and Lake Ontario kiyi ( ), once found in Lake Ontario. Upper Great Lakes kiyi have fewer gill rakers, a longer head, and longer paired fins. In May 2005, was declared extinct due to predation, competition, and over harvesting from commercial fishing. ("Kiyi (Upper Great Lakes Population)", 2008)
- Sexual Dimorphism
- sexes alike
- Range mass
- 0.04 to 0.16 kg
- 0.09 to 0.35 lb
- Range length
- 12 to 35 cm
- 4.72 to 13.78 in
- Average length
- 25 cm
- 9.84 in
Little information is available regarding the development of kiyi. However, development is likely similar to that of other members of the genus, such as lake whitefish. Female lake whitefish gain weight faster and are heavier than males, though they are generally the same length. Lake whitefish eggs incubate for 120 to 140 days and hatch in March or April. Hatchlings reach a length of 13 mm by 3 weeks of age. Mortality of lake whitefish fry is 87%. Growth is initially relatively slow and increases from June to the end of July. In laboratory tests, lake whitefish eggs did not survive at temperatures below 0˚C or above 12˚C. Egg mortality increased with increasing temperature. Incubation time decreased with increasing temperature. (Carlander, 1969)
Kiyi are lithopelagophils, meaning they spawn over open gravelly areas. They practice external fertilization, and eggs are scattered across the substrate. Little information is otherwise available regarding the mating systems of kiyi, however, they are likely similar to that of other members of the genus. Lake whitefish males have pronounced breeding tubercles, and they precede females to spawning areas. Spawning is promiscuous and most commonly occurs at night. Eggs and sperm are released near the surface of the water after a display of upward movement. Female lake whitefish release eggs in small batches over a period of ten days. Eggs are described as semi buoyant, non-adhesive, 2 to 3 mm in diameter, and number 53,000 per fluid quart. Natural fertilization is about 80%. (Carlander, 1969; Eakins, 2011)
Kiyi generally spawn in the fall. In Lake Superior, spawning occurs from November to December at depths around 128 m. When kiyi populated other lakes, spawning was known to occur from September to January at depths of 106 to 165 m depending on the lake. They practice external fertilization, scattering their eggs across a gravelly substrate. At the time of spawning females are generally heavier than males of the same length. Females lse about 6.2 to 14.4 % (mean 11.8%) of their weight while males lose 0 to 7.4 % (mean 1.6%). Eggs hatch in 120 to 140 days. Kiyi reach maturity at an age of 2 to 3 years, generally at a length of at least 132 mm. ("Assessment and Update Status Report on the Lake Ontario Kiyi and Upper Great Lakes Kiyi", 2005; Carlander, 1969)
- Breeding interval
- Kiyi breed once a year.
- Breeding season
- Spawning occurs from November to December in Lake Superior.
- Range time to hatching
- 120 to 140 days
- Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
- 2 to 3 years
- Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
- 2 to 3 years
- Parental Investment
The lifespan of kiyi is 7 to 8 years for males and 9 to 10 years for females. Females have been known to live more than 10 years. ("Assessment and Update Status Report on the Lake Ontario Kiyi and Upper Great Lakes Kiyi", 2005; Eakins, 2011)
- Typical lifespan
- male 7; female 9 to male 8; female 10 years
- Typical lifespan
Little information is available regarding behavior of kiyi. Lake whitefish, also deep cold water fish in the genus, are typically sedentary and spend most of their time in loosely aggregated schools. (Dewey, 2008; Tomelleri and Eberle, 1990)
The movement and home range of kiyi have not been well studied. Lake whitefish, however, have been tagged and their movements monitored. In Lake Erie, individual lake whitefish migrate between deep water and spawning grounds at a distance of 280 km. In Lake Michigan, some individuals traveled farther than 40 km with a maximum distance of 115 km in a year. (Carlander, 1969)
Communication and Perception
Kiyi have large eyes that are uniquely adapted for their deepwater habitat. Because of their lateral line, they can also sense movement in the surrounding water. Communication among near relatives lake whitefish is tactile. ("Assessment and Update Status Report on the Lake Ontario Kiyi and Upper Great Lakes Kiyi", 2005; Dewey, 2008)
- Communication Channels
Kiyi predominantly prey on small freshwater shrimps and may also prey on opossum shrimp, amphipods, mayfly nymphs, mollusks, zooplankton, benthos, and chironomids. More specifically, prey include Pontoporeia, Mysis including Mysis relicta, and Diporeia hoyi. ("Assessment and Update Status Report on the Lake Ontario Kiyi and Upper Great Lakes Kiyi", 2005; "Lake Superior Food Web", 2009; Carlander, 1969; Hubbs and Lagler, 2004)
- Animal Foods
- aquatic crustaceans
- Foraging Behavior
Kiyi are preyed upon by burbots and lake trout, as well as humans. Other potential predators include sea lamprey, rainbow smelt, and alewife. ("Assessment and Update Status Report on the Lake Ontario Kiyi and Upper Great Lakes Kiyi", 2005)
Kiyi prey upon a variety of zooplankton and macroinvertebrates and also serve as prey for piscivores. ("Lake Superior Food Web", 2009)
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
Kiyi were once very important commercial fish in the Great Lakes and were heavily fished. Deep-water cisco fishing, commonly referred to as chub fishing, is no longer practiced in the American portion of Lake Superior but still occurs in Canadian waters. Quotas remain well below the mean exploitable biomass and are only roughly one-tenth the estimated present population size. Whitefishes in general make up the largest commercial fishery in the Great Lakes. However, kiyi have low marketability and the demand is generally low. ("Assessment and Update Status Report on the Lake Ontario Kiyi and Upper Great Lakes Kiyi", 2005; "Coregonus kiyi — kiyi", 2000)
- Positive Impacts
Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
There are no known adverse effects of kiyi on humans. (Froese, et al., 2011)
Kiyi are listed as vulnerable by the IUCN and are considered of special concern by the US Fish and Wildlife service, the states of Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, New York, and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. ("Assessment and Update Status Report on the Lake Ontario Kiyi and Upper Great Lakes Kiyi", 2005; "Coregonus kiyi — kiyi", 2000; "Kiyi (Coregonus kiyi)", 2009a; "Kiyi (Coregonus kiyi)", 2009b)
Overfishing contributed greatly to the extirpation of kiyi in lakes Huron, Michigan and Ontario. Although they are not currently a targeted species, kiyi are occasionally taken as by-catch for other commercial fisheries. Other threats to this species include loss of cold deep-water habitat as well as habitat degradation due to contaminants and sedimentation. This species is particularly vulnerable to these processes as they are endemic to a single lake. Competition with and predation by exotic species such as alewife, smelt, pacific salmon, and sea lamprey are the greatest threat to existing populations of kiyi. ("Assessment and Update Status Report on the Lake Ontario Kiyi and Upper Great Lakes Kiyi", 2005; "Coregonus kiyi — kiyi", 2000; "Kiyi (Coregonus kiyi)", 2009a; "Kiyi (Coregonus kiyi)", 2009b)
Conservation efforts should focus on the control of exotic species in Lake Superior, and regulation of commercial fisheries that negatively affect kiyi. Additionally, more information is required regarding the abundance of this species. Reestablishment in Lake Huron and Lake Michigan may be possible using populations from Lake Superior, although this has not yet occurred. ("Assessment and Update Status Report on the Lake Ontario Kiyi and Upper Great Lakes Kiyi", 2005; "Coregonus kiyi — kiyi", 2000; "Kiyi (Coregonus kiyi)", 2009a; "Kiyi (Coregonus kiyi)", 2009b)
In 1927, kiyi made up roughly 52.8% of all ciscoes caught in experimental gill nets in Lake Ontario. By 1942 they comprised only 0.01%, and only 1 individual was caught in 1964. This was the last recorded presence of kiyi in Lake Ontario. ("Assessment and Update Status Report on the Lake Ontario Kiyi and Upper Great Lakes Kiyi", 2005)
Brian Beall (author), Minnesota State University, Mankato, Robert Sorensen (editor), Minnesota State University, Mankato, Gail McCormick (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff, Catherine Kent (editor), Special Projects.
living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.
- bilateral symmetry
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
an animal that mainly eats meat
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
- external fertilization
fertilization takes place outside the female's body
union of egg and spermatozoan
a method of feeding where small food particles are filtered from the surrounding water by various mechanisms. Used mainly by aquatic invertebrates, especially plankton, but also by baleen whales.
A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.
mainly lives in water that is not salty.
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
specialized for swimming
- native range
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.
An aquatic biome consisting of the open ocean, far from land, does not include sea bottom (benthic zone).
an animal that mainly eats plankton
- seasonal breeding
breeding is confined to a particular season
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
uses touch to communicate
uses sight to communicate
animal constituent of plankton; mainly small crustaceans and fish larvae. (Compare to phytoplankton.)
Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Assessment and Update Status Report on the Lake Ontario Kiyi and Upper Great Lakes Kiyi. Ottawa: Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada. 2005. Accessed April 22, 2011 at http://dsp-psd.pwgsc.gc.ca/Collection/CW69-14-431-2005E.pdf.
USGS Great Lakes Science Center. 2000. "Coregonus kiyi — kiyi" (On-line pdf). GLSC Fact Sheet 2000-2. Accessed July 09, 2011 at http://www.glsc.usgs.gov/_files/factsheets/2000-2%20Coregonus%20Kiyi.pdf.
Michigan Natural Features Inventory. 2007. "Coregonus kiyi" (On-line). Rare Species Explorer. Accessed April 22, 2011 at http://web4.msue.msu.edu/mnfi/explorer/species.cfm?id=11283.
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. 2009. "Kiyi (Coregonus kiyi)" (On-line). Endangered Resources Program Species Information. Accessed April 22, 2011 at http://dnr.wi.gov/org/land/er/biodiversity/index.asp?mode=info&Grp=13&SpecCode=AFCHA01070.
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. 2009. "Kiyi (Coregonus kiyi)" (On-line pdf). Wisconsin’s Strategy for Wildlife Species of Greatest Conservation Need. Accessed July 09, 2011 at http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/land/er/wwap/plan/pdfs/Fish_Kiyi.pdf.
Royal Ontario Museum. 2008. "Kiyi (Upper Great Lakes Population)" (On-line). Ontario's Species at Risk. Accessed July 09, 2011 at http://www.rom.on.ca/ontario/risk.php?doc_type=fact&id=65&lang=en.
NOAA. Lake Superior Food Web. Ann Arbor, MI: Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. 2009. Accessed April 22, 2011 at http://www.glerl.noaa.gov/pubs/brochures/foodweb/LSfoodweb.pdf.
Carlander, K. 1969. Handbook of Freshwater Fishery Biology. Ames, IA: The Iowa State University Press.
Dewey, T. 2008. "Coregonus clupeaformis" (On-line). Animal Diversity Web. Accessed May 02, 2011 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Coregonus_clupeaformis.html.
Eakins, R. 2011. "Kiyi" (On-line). Ontario Freshwater Fishes Life History Database. Version 3.95.. Accessed July 09, 2011 at http://ecometrix.ca/fishdb/fish_detail.php?FID=94.
Froese, R., S. Kuosmanen-Postila, R. Reyes, A. Torres. 2011. "FishBase" (On-line). Accessed April 03, 2011 at http://www.fishbase.org/summary/SpeciesSummary.php?id=2672.
Hubbs, C., K. Lagler. 2004. Fishes of the Great Lakes Region. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press.
Tomelleri, J., M. Eberle. 1990. Fishes of the Central United States. Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas.