MadSci Network: Environment & Ecology

Re: Does the sea lamprey have positive effects on an Ecosystem?

Date: Mon Apr 13 13:06:26 2009
Posted By: dave armstrong, Faculty, Biology, Cedars Tutoring, Qatar
Area of science: Environment & Ecology
ID: 1238587922.En

Dear Holden, You seem to have bitten off more than you can chew with these primitive Vertebrates. If you had chosen river lampreys and their relatives, a little more is known. The sea lamprey has been regarded as quite different although all species have freshwater larvae.What happens to all lampreys in the depths of the sea has been relayed to us only by fishermen, apart from some recent papers. New York State has some interesting ecologies, in their lakes which have land-locked lampreys. they remain in the State and migrate only a few miles upstream The larvae of lampreys are called ammocoetes and can be seen as "microphagous". This means they basically feed on unicellular algae and similar sized prey. Difficult though it is, the larval predators have actually been listed for you (with some typical adult predators) in a 1995 report: REFERENCE:Status Report on the Pacific Lamprey In the Columbia River Basin, conducted by Corvallis,O R.,Blaine Parker and Douglas Hatch Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission Portland, and Gary James Department of Natural Resources, Fisheries Program Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation Pendleton. This report is really worth a look. Your own report will benefit from its deep knowledge of this particular lamprey. It even mentions an evil alien - the Petromyzon lamprey which is a large marine species invading the Great Lakes and damaging fisheries. The history of lampreys is dotted with hatred of this "parasite" which destroys catches of fish, even in the nets! If you like the historical perspective, note that these species, primitive as they are, are often, in ignorance, called eels, both in Europe and America. Remember eels are one of the most highly sophisticated fish when you compare the basic similarity in shape. REFERENCE:Bill Beamish’s "Contributions to Lamprey Research and Recent Advances in the Field" are on a similar interest level to my previous ref. To summarise quickly, I apologise because you will have to Google my references, plus: 1] You seem to have quite a testing subject; 2] Predators and prey , including Sea lions at the mouth of the Columbia, may be hard to find in print; 3] Remember that human food-interest can be found, to involve in your ecological scans, inc. Amerindians(using lamprey in many ways), English people on the River Severn and I believe some Japanese lamprey-yaki or some such exotic dish. Wishing you luck for your final version of the report

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