Laboratory protocol to calibrate sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus L.) EMG signal output with swimming

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A correct application of electromyogram (EMG) telemetry in the field can be a powerful tool to evaluate activity patterns and swimming strategies of fishes. We evaluated the swim performance of seven untagged sea lampreys (Petromyzon marinus L.) with critical swim speed (U crit) tests. The average U crit observed was c. 1.03 ms−1 (i.e., 1.14 BL s−1). The strongest reotaxic response was observed during tests using water velocities between 0.4 ms−1 and 0.8 ms−1. During two consecutive years (i.e., 2004 and 2005), in order to model upstream migration of sea lampreys with CEMG transmitters (Lotek Wireless), we calibrated EMG signal with swim speed. A high correlation between EMG records and swim speed was observed in both years (r 2 = 0.74–0.93). However, in spite of methodology improvements and standardization in the second year of study, differences in intercepts and slopes were observed between individuals, making the determination of a unique calibration equation for all tagged animals unfeasible. Therefore, it appears to be necessary to obtain the relationship between EMG signals and swimming speed for each lamprey using laboratory procedures, prior to release in the wild. It is unknown whether this variability results from individual locomotor behaviour, physiological state and/or variation in placement and functioning of the EMG transmitters. The results of five laboratory calibrated lampreys, released in the River Mondego, revealed considerable differences between swim speeds calculated with EMG signal (calibration equation) and ground speed therefore it was not possible to successfully calibrate the EMG signal output with swimming speed. In order to accomplish this, longer continuous swimming tests in laboratory are necessary. Nevertheless, the calibrated swimming effort gives reliable information about the swimming behaviour and permits comparison of the results between animals.

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This research was financially supported by two Portuguese institutions, the Water Institute (INAG) of the Ministry of Environment and by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) with Project funding (reference PNAT/1999/BIA/15019/P) and a Ph.D. grant to B.R. Quintella (reference SFRH/BD/9125/2002).

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Correspondence to P. R. Almeida.

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Almeida, P.R., Póvoa, I. & Quintella, B. Laboratory protocol to calibrate sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus L.) EMG signal output with swimming. Hydrobiologia 582, 209–220 (2007) doi:10.1007/s10750-006-0539-8

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  • Electromyogram
  • CEMG transmitters
  • Biotelemetry
  • Calibration
  • Critical swimming speed