Providing practical tools for conservation

Atlantic whitefish

The success of fisheries management strategies hinges upon the ability to accurately identify the target species, irrespective of life history stage. Because visual inspection is the first, and often sole, opportunity to indicate probable presence of protected species, visual criteria that allow for accurate species identification remain a valuable tool.


The Atlantic whitefish (Coregonus huntsmani) is an endangered species endemic to Canada, and is known only from Nova Scotia. Several actions identified in the Atlantic whitefish recovery strategy require morphological criteria by which to accurately discriminate Atlantic whitefish from other closely related coregonine fishes in the region. My colleagues and I have documented Atlantic whitefish ontogeny, drawn comparisons with phylogenetically closely related coregonine fishes, and have established sets of external phenetic characters that are useful for in situ species identification at all life history stages.