Ciscoes of the Laurentian Great Lakes once represented the most diversified incipient species flock of Coregonus in North America. Though the taxonomy of the coregonine fishes has always been difficult to resolve, the extensive extirpations and extinctions of ciscoes which have occurred throughout the Great Lakes system within the last few decades have hampered efforts to classify remaining stocks of fish and to understand the evolutionary process involved in their speciation. The proposed study would involve restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis of nuclear DNA and restriction site mapping analysis of mitochondrial DNA, later followed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification and sequencing of rapidly-evolving nuclear and mitochondrial genes from fresh and museum specimens of Laurentian, Artic, and Eurasian ciscoes. Cladograms constructed from DNA-level homologies will be compared to those derived from morphological data to deduce genetic relationships among these fishes. Results of this research may lead to a better understanding of the evolution of the Coregoninae, reveal underlying genetic principles behind the evolution of fish species flocks, and enable genetically sound management of remaining stocks of ciscoes in the Great Lakes.
PRF: Cladistics and Genetic Distinctness of Protected and Extinct Members of the Coregoninae (Family Salmonidae) in North America