The appearance of the cranium, eyes, pineal gland, inner ear, olfactory rosettes, lateral line, large brain, and muscular heart, were first evident in the lamprey. The body form of lampreys is simple and essentially the same as a 360 million year old fossil lamprey described by Gess et al. (2006). Whose blood or flesh did this lamprey feed on?Lampreys have been around a very long time and yet we still don’t know much. The explosion of Sea Lamprey in the upper Great Lakes spurred much research aimed at developing control strategies. See blog post. However, there are 22 other species of lampreys in North America in the family Petromyzontidae. How are they getting along?
The Pacific Lamprey Entosphenus tridentatus has been declining for decades after construction of eight hydroelectric dams on the lower Columbia and Snake Rivers (Close et al. 2002). Grates that were designed to guide salmon away from the turbine intakes did not protect the weaker-swimming lampreys. In 2003, conservation groups petitioned the USFWS to list four species of lamprey in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and California, including the Pacific Lamprey, under the Endangered Species Act. The petition was deemed unwarranted due to lack of information (Brown et al. 2009). Eventually 13 stocks were placed on the Endangered Species list and Pacific Lamprey Conservation Initiative emerged. Will the Pacific Lamprey every recover?
The Lost Fish movie trailer. Full movie available here,
A common genus of lampreys in eastern USA drainages is Ichthyomyzon, which includes 6 species. Ichthyomyzon are smaller than Sea Lampreys with a single dorsal fin that is continuous with the caudal fin. The Ohio Lamprey Ichthyomyzon bdellium was described based on a holotype specimen collected from the Ohio River. Adult Ohio lampreys are parasitic. Tooth patterns and myomere counts are important traits to identify genera and species. Are there any hotspots of Ohio Lamprey abundance left?
|Young ammocoetes. Photo by Wester Ross Fisheries Trust.|
|Oral disc of Ohio Lamprey. Photo by Derek Wheaton.|
|Range of the Ohio Lamprey (NatureServe 2013).|
|Channel Catfish dorsal view showing a Chestnut Lamprey scar. Photo by Michael J. Moore.|
The conservation status of 33 of the 44 species (75 %) has been assessed at a global scale. (Maitland et al. 2014) and at least 12 are at risk. Jelks et al. (2008) concluded that 43% of North American lamprey species were at some level of risk. Williams and Williams (2005) concluded that the Ohio Lamprey “declined across its range, probably related to habitat alteration through damming of large rivers and siltation of small streams, which are important reproductive and larval habitats.” Unfortunately, the population level data on most lamprey species is not adequate for population viability assessment. Ohio Lamprey is extirpated from many river drainages as it requires excellent water quality and low fine sediment inputs in both upstream and downstream areas of the watershed. You can view the underwater videos of the Ohio Lamprey spawning after reading a poem on lamprey romance.
Romance for the Jaw Challenged Fishes (Milton S. Love 2011, p. 6)
What’s the purpose at this season
That I love you without reason
Never felt this way before
As I sweep the river floor
Though your company’s such bliss
Locking lips we just can’t kiss
For mating’s driven by compulsion
Thus we shall triumph, through repulsion.
This poem reminds me that I have so much more to learn about lampreys. Lampreys are not ugly, blood suckers that kill fish. Ancient Romans considered them regal food. They are cultural icons among Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest. In Japan, lampreys were first medicine for night blindness. Baked lamprey pie is sent to ruling monarchs of England on special occasions. It is only in the upper Great Lakes where they deserve the invasive title. Lamprey has become a significant new model for neuroscience investigations of spinal cord regeneration. No one has yet examined all mentions of lampreys in literature. In this Kurt Vonnegut short story lampreys were finding the Great Lakes too vile and noxious even for them. We need to restore and clean up our rivers for lamprey habitat or suffer the “wrath of the lamprey.”
Brown, L.R., S.D. Chase, M.G. Mesa, R.J. Beamish, and P.B. Moyle. 2009. Biology, Management, and Conservation of Lampreys in North America. American Fisheries Society Symposium 72. Bethesda, Maryland.
Close, D.A., M.S. Fitzpatrick, and H.W. Li. 2002. The ecological and cultural importance of a species at risk of exinction, Pacific lamprey. Fisheries 27:19-25.
Dawson, H.A., B.R. Quintella, P.R. Almeida, A.J. Treble, and J.C. Jolley. 2014. The ecology of larval and metamorphosing lampreys. Pages 75-137 in M.F. Docker, Editor. Lampreys: Biology, Conservation, and Control. Volume 1. Fish and Fisheries Series 37. Springer.
Hogg, R.S., S.M. Coghlan, Jr., J. Zydlewski, and K.S. Simon. 2014. Anadromous sea lampreys (Petromyzon marinus) are ecosystem engineers in a spawning tributary. Freshwater Biology 59:1294-1307.
Love, M.S. 2011. Certainly more than you want to know about the fishes of the Pacific Coast: A postmodern experience. Really Big Press, Santa Barbara, California. 650 pp.
Maitland, P.S., C.B. Renaud, B.R. Quintella, D.A. Close, and M.F. Docker. Conservation of Native Lampreys. 2014. Pages 375-428 in M.F. Docker, Editor. Lampreys: Biology, Conservation, and Control. Volume 1. Fish and Fisheries Series 37. Springer.
NatureServe. 2013. Ichthyomyzon bdellium. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T202616A18234634. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2013-1.RLTS.T202616A18234634.en. Downloaded on 10 March 2017.
McCauley, D.W., M.F. Docker, S. Whyard, and W. Li. 2015. Lampreys as diverse model organisms in the genomics era. BioScience 65:1046-1056.
Shirakawa, O., S. Yanai, and A. Goto. 2013. Lamprey larvae as ecosystem engineers: Physical and geochemical impact on the streambed by their burrowing behavior. Hydrobiologia 701:313-321.
Williams, M.G., and L.R. Williams. 2005. Conservation Assessment. Ohio Lamprey Ichthyomyzon bdellium. U.S. Forest Service, Eastern Region. 26 pp. Available from: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fsm91_054381.pdf