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Southern brook lamprey

Ichthyomyzon gagei

What do they look like?

Southern brook lampreys have bodies shaped like eels. They have a fin along the top divided in two parts. Their mouth is a circle of teeth adapted for sucking that tells them apart from northern brook lampreys. They are light brown or green on their back and lighter yellow or white on their stomach. Their fins are lighter in color, too. Their larvae have no eyes and their mouths are shaped like a hood. ("Ichthyomyzon gagei", 2011; Hammerson, 2010; Mettee, et al., 2008; Rainer, 2010)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range mass
    1.05 to 4.25 g
    0.04 to 0.15 oz
  • Average mass
    2.2 g
    0.08 oz
  • Range length
    10 to 20 cm
    3.94 to 7.87 in
  • Average length
    16 cm
    6.30 in

Where do they live?

Southern brook lampreys are found in the Mississippi River basin, rivers that drain into the Tennessee River, and rivers that drain into the Gulf of Mexico. They live in freshwater streams. They are usually found in smaller streams as larvae and larger streams as adults. They like shallow water. They need a gravel or small rock river bottoms where they attach and later spawn. ("Ichthyomyzon gagei", 2011; "Mississippi River Resource Page", 2011)

What kind of habitat do they need?

Southern brook lampreys using live in quickly-moving water, but the larvae live in streams where the water moves more slowly. Southern brook lampreys are usually found in smaller rivers and tributaries. ("Ichthyomyzon gagei", 2011; "Mississippi River Resource Page", 2011)

  • Aquatic Biomes
  • rivers and streams
  • Range elevation
    0 to 450 m
    0.00 to 1476.38 ft
  • Range depth
    0.9 to 61 m
    2.95 to 200.13 ft

How do they grow?

Southern brook lampreys spend most of their lives as larvae, which are called ammocoetes. The larvae bury themselves in sandy river bottoms and eat floating bacteria and algae. They are usually larvae for 3 to 4 years. It takes them 2 to 3 months to transform into adults. During this time, they migrate to faster parts of the stream. In the spring, adults attach themselves to the gravel bottom where they lay their eggs. ("Ichthyomyzon gagei", 2011; Beamish and Thomas, 1984; Cochran and Pettinelli, 1987; Cochran, 1987)

How do they reproduce?

Southern brook lampreys mate and lay their eggs in less than one week. Somewhere between 5 and 20 adults work together to build a nest from rocks. (Cochran and Pettinelli, 1987; Mettee, et al., 2008)

The eggs take about 2 to 3 weeks to hatch. Then, southern brook lampreys spend 3 to 4 years as larvae. For 2 to 3 months in the late summer or early fall, the larvae transform into adults. Females release 1000 to 2000 eggs, and the males fertilize the eggs. Adults die a few days after females lay eggs. ("Ichthyomyzon gagei", 2011; Beamish and Thomas, 1984; Cochran and Pettinelli, 1987; Hassan-Williams and Bonner, 2007; Rainer, 2010)

  • How often does reproduction occur?
    Southern brook lampreys breed once in the spring and then die.
  • Breeding season
    Southern brook lampreys breed in the spring over a time period less than a week.
  • Range number of offspring
    1000 to 2500
  • Average number of offspring
    1700
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    3 to 4 years
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    3 to 4 years

Southern brook lampreys build nests for their eggs out of rocks, but die right after the females lay eggs. ("Ichthyomyzon gagei", 2011; Mettee, et al., 2008)

  • Parental Investment
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • male
      • female
    • protecting
      • male
      • female

How long do they live?

Southern brook lampreys live 2 to 3 weeks as eggs, larvae for 3 to 4 years, and adults for 2 to 26 days. They are hard to raise in captivity. (Beamish and Thomas, 1984; Hassan-Williams and Bonner, 2007; Mettee, et al., 2008; Rainer, 2010)

  • Typical lifespan
    Status: wild
    1111 to 1507 days

How do they behave?

Adult southern brook lampreys have just a few days to reproduce and build a nest for their offspring. They form groups of 20 to 40 adults to release and fertilize their eggs. Adults may work together to build nests. (Cochran and Pettinelli, 1987; Cochran, 1987; Mettee, et al., 2008)

How do they communicate with each other?

Southern brook lampreys mostly communicate and understand their environment using their senses of sight and touch. Only adults have fully working eyes. ("Ichthyomyzon gagei", 2011)

What do they eat?

Southern brook lampreys are not parasites. The larvae eat algae and other bacteria floating near the spot they are stuck in the sand or gravel. Adult southern brook lampreys stay alive using energy they store when they are larvae, so they don't eat anything. ("Ichthyomyzon gagei", 2011; Hassan-Williams and Bonner, 2007; Mettee, et al., 2008; Rainer, 2010)

  • Plant Foods
  • algae

What eats them and how do they avoid being eaten?

Southern brook lamprey larvae burrow into sand or loose gravel, so they are difficult for predators to find. Adults attach themselves to rocks in swift-moving waters, and are also hard to find because they have camouflage coloring. They are eaten by northern pike, perch, and European chub. ("Ichthyomyzon gagei", 2011; Hammerson, 2010)

  • These animal colors help protect them
  • cryptic

What roles do they have in the ecosystem?

The larval phase is the only phase that eats and filter feeds on nutrients from algae and bacteria. Southern brook lampreys are not predators. ("Ichthyomyzon gagei", 2011; Mettee, et al., 2008; Rainer, 2010)

Do they cause problems?

There are no known negative economic effects on humans caused by southern brook lampreys.

How do they interact with us?

In Sweden, Russia and South Korea, lampreys are eaten by humans as food. They are also used as bait to catch pike, perch and chubs. (Hassan-Williams and Bonner, 2007; Rainer, 2010)

  • Ways that people benefit from these animals:
  • food

Are they endangered?

Southern brook lampreys are not threatened or endangered.

Contributors

ryan oldsberg (author), Minnesota State University, Mankato, Robert Sorensen (editor), Minnesota State University, Mankato, Renee Mulcrone (editor), Special Projects, Catherine Kent (editor), Special Projects.

References

2011. "Ichthyomyzon gagei" (On-line). Accessed April 21, 2011 at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/rsg/profile.html?action=elementDetail&selectedElement=AFBAA01040.

2011. "Mississippi River Resource Page" (On-line). Accessed July 11, 2011 at http://www.mississippiriverresource.com/River/RiverFacts.php.

Beamish, F., E. Thomas. 1984. Metamorphosis of the southern brook lamprey, Ichthyomyzon gagei. Copeia, 1984 (2): 502-515. Accessed July 11, 2011 at http://www.jstor.org/stable/1445205.

Cochran, P. 1987. The southern brook lamprey (Ichthyomyzon gagei) in the St. Croix River drainage of Wisconsin and Minnesota. Copeia, 1987/2: 443-446. Accessed July 11, 2011 at http://www.jstor.org/stable/1445782.

Cochran, P., T. Pettinelli. 1987. "Northern and southern brook lampreys in Minnesota" (On-line pdf). Accessed July 11, 2011 at http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/eco/nongame/projects/consgrant_reports/1987/1987_cochran.pdf.

Hammerson, G. 2010. "Ichthyomyzon gagei" (On-line). NatureServe Explorer. Accessed July 11, 2011 at http://www.natureserve.org/explorer/servlet/NatureServe?sourceTemplate=tabular_report.wmt&loadTemplate=species_RptComprehensive.wmt&selectedReport=RptComprehensive.wmt&summaryView=tabular_report.wmt&elKey=102239&paging=home&save=true&startIndex=1&nextStartIndex=1&reset=false&offPageSelectedElKey=102239&offPageSelectedElType=species&offPageYesNo=true&post_processes=&radiobutton=radiobutton&selectedIndexes=102239+gage.

Hassan-Williams, C., T. Bonner. 2007. "Ichthyomyzon gagei" (On-line). Accessed July 11, 2011 at http://www.bio.txstate.edu/~tbonner/txfishes/ichthyomyzon%20gagei.htm.

Mettee, M., P. O'Neil, J. Pierson. 2008. "Southern Brook Lamprey" (On-line). Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin. Accessed July 11, 2011 at http://www.outdooralabama.com/fishing/freshwater/fish/other/lamprey/so/.

Rainer, F. 2010. "Southern brook lamprey" (On-line). Accessed July 11, 2011 at http://www.fishbase.org/summary/speciessummary.php?id=2517.

 
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oldsberg, r. 2013. "Ichthyomyzon gagei" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed August 21, 2014 at http://www.biokids.umich.edu/accounts/Ichthyomyzon_gagei/

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
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