Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 68, Issue 1, pp 65-71

First online:

Parasitic Attachments by Overwintering Silver Lampreys, Ichthyomyzon unicuspis, and Chestnut Lampreys, Ichthyomyzon castaneus

  • Philip A. CochranAffiliated withDivision of Natural Sciences, Saint Norbert College
  • , John LyonsAffiliated withWisconsin Department of Natural Resources
  • , Matthew R. GehlAffiliated withDivision of Natural Sciences, Saint Norbert College

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We present evidence that at least some parasitic-phase silver lampreys, Ichthyomyzon unicuspis, and chestnut lampreys, I. castaneus, remain attached to host fish during the winter. Lake sturgeon, Acipenser fulvescens, harvested through the ice by spearfishers in the Lake Winnebago system in Wisconsin may bear silver lampreys or fresh lamprey wounds, and sturgeon with lamprey marks were significantly larger than sturgeon without them. Silver lampreys collected on paddlefish, Polyodon spathula, in the Wisconsin River in March were not significantly longer than silver lampreys collected previously in late October, but they were significantly heavier, an indication that they were feeding to at least some extent during the intervening period. Other large fish species, including northern pike, Esox lucius, and flathead catfish, Pylodictus olivaris, have been collected or observed during the winter with silver or chestnut lampreys attached. Although energy and nutrient intake by parasitic lampreys may be reduced during the winter, lampreys attached to hosts may also benefit from the hosts' mobility and ability to avoid potentially harmful situations.

Petromyzontidae lamprey paddlefish Polyodon spathula lake sturgeon Acipenser fulvescens, winter Wisconsin sea lamprey Petromyzon marinus