, Volume 734, Issue 1, pp 187–199 | Cite as

The haematophagous feeding stage of anadromous populations of sea lamprey Petromyzon marinus: low host selectivity and wide range of habitats

  • Sergio SilvaEmail author
  • Mário J. Araújo
  • Miguel Bao
  • Gonzalo Mucientes
  • Fernando Cobo
Primary Research Paper


Limited information is available regarding habitat use and host species of the haematophagous feeding stage of the anadromous sea lamprey Petromyzon marinus Linnaeus, 1758, due to the difficulties in capturing feeding lampreys and wounded hosts. The aim of this study is to provide new records of P. marinus feeding on host species and to review the available information in this regard to better know the ecology and distribution of sea lamprey during this stage. Thus, new records of P. marinus individuals or wounds on 23 species of fishes and cetaceans are provided. Nineteen of these species were described for the first time as hosts of P. marinus. As a result, an updated list of 54 host species is provided. They belong to diverse taxonomic groups and exhibit different morphological, physiological and ecological patterns. The attacks were located from fresh and brackish waters to open sea. The results suggest that the marine distribution of P. marinus is mainly related to coastal areas with part of the population widely dispersed in offshore areas. This remarkable capacity of inhabiting a broad range of aquatic ecosystems and exploiting different host species could have favoured the dispersal ability and evolutionary success of sea lamprey.


Parasite-host interaction Distribution Trophic ecology North Atlantic Ocean Fisheries Sea 



The authors thank the staff of the Hydrobiology Station ‘Encoro do Con’ (USC), Dr. Carlos Antunes (CIIMAR-UP), Dr. John B. Hume (University of Glasgow), Dr. Richard Sabatié (ENSAR-FR, Fig. 2b–c), Dr. Rodrigo López (PAISASIGMO, Fig. 1), Rafael Bañon (UTPB-Xunta de Galicia), Manuel E. Garci (IIM-CSIC), CEMMA (Fig. 3a–d), CEPESMA, scientific crew of Vizconde de Eza Oceanographic Vessel, commercial vessels ‘Ameal’ and ‘Amel’, Skipper A. Blanco (‘Casca’, Bueu), Skipper P. Castro (MERAK, Galicia), João Araújo and Napoleão Rodrigues (fishermen of River Minho), Vasco Presa (fisherman of V. P. Âncora) and Xulio Valeiras (IEO; Fig. 2e) for their important collaboration and for providing new records of host species of anadromous sea lamprey. The authors are also grateful to Dr. Martyn C. Lucas (University of Durham) for his valuable comments. This study has been partially supported by the project 10PXIB2111059PR of Xunta de Galicia and the project MIGRANET of the Interreg IV B SUDOE (South-West Europe) Territorial Cooperation Programme (SOE2/P2/E288). The authors are also grateful to two anonymous referees for their helpful comments.

Supplementary material

Online resource 1 First evidence of Petromyzon marinus feeding on Prionace glauca (MP4 81666 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sergio Silva
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Mário J. Araújo
    • 3
  • Miguel Bao
    • 4
  • Gonzalo Mucientes
    • 5
    • 6
  • Fernando Cobo
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Zoology and Physical Anthropology, Faculty of BiologyUniversity of Santiago de CompostelaSantiago de CompostelaSpain
  2. 2.Hydrobiology Station ‘Encoro do Con’Vilagarcía de ArousaSpain
  3. 3.CIMAR-LA/CIIMAR Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental ResearchPortoPortugal
  4. 4.ECOBIOMAR, Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas (CSIC)VigoSpain
  5. 5.Grupo de Ecología PesqueraInstituto de Investigaciones Marinas (CSIC)VigoSpain
  6. 6.Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos GenéticosCIBIO – Universidade de PortoVairãoPortugal

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