Conservation of the vendace (Coregonus albula), the UK's rarest freshwater fish

Ian J. Winfield, Colin E. Adams, Colin W. Bean, N. Cameron Durie, Janice M. Fletcher, Andrew R. Gowans, Chris Harrod, J. Ben James, Alex A. Lyle, Peter S. Maitland, Caroline Thompson, Eric Verspoor

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Whitefish in the family Coregonidae are closely related to the salmonid family and are found in cool, clean waters in Northern Europe, Asia, and North America. They resemble salmonids in general appearance, including an adipose fin, but differ from them in their lack of colour, markings or spots, hence the general name whitefish. There are many local names, often for the same species and these include cisco, vendace, powan, freshwater herring, gwyniad and schelly or skelly. There have been many arguments about their taxonomy and classification, especially in Northern Europe; sometimes referred to as ‘the coregonid problem’. Coregonids support sport and commercial fisheries in many countries, but not in Britain, and their
populations are often sensitive to over-exploitation and pollution, especially eutrophication. Regular meetings to assess the biology and management of coregonids are therefore to be welcomed. This large volume contains 40 peer-reviewed papers
on current topics in coregonid research grouped into five sections. An introductory section consists of nine papers dealing with genetics and evolution. The first and last of these papers are lengthy and useful reviews dealing with genetic markers and the coregonid problem, and the geography of speciation and adaptive radiation in coregonids. Both reviews are impressive
and provide comprehensive coverage of the literature on the genetics and speciation of this family. Between these two reviews are seven shorter papers describing specific examples of genetic variability. The next section on biology, life history and population dynamics is the longest in the book with fourteen chapters. This is a mixed bunch of shorter papers dealing chiefly with different aspects of population dynamics, but also topics such as the effects of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons on gene expression, and the effects of cormorant predation on coregonids. I was impressed by the novel technique of using intra-otolith stable isotope profiles to reconstruct the thermal history of whitefish over the growing season in Lake Annecy. A general review, similar to those in the last section, would have been a welcome addition to this section, but unfortunately is absent.
The third section on invasive species is the shortest in the book with only four papers. These include the harmful effects on whitefish populations of introduced ruffe, Gymnocephalus cernuus (L.), the boom and bust
population dynamics of vendace introduced into a subarctic watercourse, and how the co-existence of resident Arctic charr, Salvelinus alpinus
(L.), and introduced whitefish depends upon the intensive fishing of the latter species.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBiology and management of coregonid fishes - 2008
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Publication series

NameAdvances in Limnology


  • eutrophication
  • sedimentation
  • species introductions
  • monitoring
  • habitat management
  • translocation
  • public awareness
  • Bassenthwaite Lake
  • Derwent Water
  • Loch Skeen


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