Conservation of Native Lampreys

  • Peter S. MaitlandEmail author
  • Claude B. Renaud
  • Bernardo R. Quintella
  • David A. Close
  • Margaret F. Docker
Part of the Fish & Fisheries Series book series (FIFI, volume 37)


Forty-four species of lampreys (Petromyzontidae) are currently recognized: (a) nine species are anadromous and parasitic (i.e., feeding on actinopterygian fishes after metamorphosis); (b) nine species are freshwater resident and parasitic; and (c) 26 species are freshwater resident and non-parasitic (i.e., do not feed at all following metamorphosis). To date, the conservation status of 33 of these species (75 %) has been assessed at a global scale. Of those assessed, at least 12 are deemed at risk. Lampreys are at risk from a number of anthropogenic pressures, most notably pollution, habitat destruction (e.g., dredging of depositional habitats essential to larval lampreys), engineering works (particularly dams that act as barriers to migration and alter natural stream flow regimes), overharvest, and changes to their prey base. Legislation has been brought forward in recent years, most notably in North America and Europe, to give some protection to lampreys and their habitat. At least 16 species now receive legal protection in at least a portion of their range at the national (or European Union) level; others are protected by laws at the subnational level. A number of projects across the world are focusing on the protection and conservation of some populations of lampreys (particularly those harvested by humans); examples of these are described. Taxonomic uncertainty remains an impediment to the conservation of some lampreys, however, and there is also a need to explain and resolve disagreements between the global (IUCN) and national lists; better coordination and consultation should be developed to prevent confusion.


Conservation Dams Dredging Habitat degradation Legislation Native Overharvest Petromyzontidae Pollution Threats Translocation 



We thank Edmundo Díaz-Pardo and Juan Jacobo Schmitter-Soto for information on Mexican legislation aimed at protecting wildlife and Stewart B. Reid for providing unpublished information on reintroduction efforts for the Miller Lake lamprey. Colin Bean helped with information on lamprey conservation by Scottish Natural Heritage in Scotland, Yuji Yamazaki with lamprey conservation status in Japan, Panos S. Economidis advised on lampreys in Greece, Hassan Nazari on the situation of the Caspian lamprey in Iran, and Cindy F. Baker provided information regarding pouched lamprey conservation efforts in New Zealand. Rolando Rodríguez-Muñoz and Catherine Taverny provided information on lamprey conservation in Spain and France, respectively. Jon E. Hess and Patrick Luke provided information on the Pacific lamprey in the Columbia River basin, Mary L. Moser on passage efficiency by Pacific lamprey, and Alexander M. Naseka and Ian C. Potter on lamprey conservation in Russia and Australia, respectively. Two anonymous referees made many useful suggestions to improve the text.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter S. Maitland
    • 1
    Email author
  • Claude B. Renaud
    • 2
  • Bernardo R. Quintella
    • 3
  • David A. Close
    • 4
  • Margaret F. Docker
    • 5
  1. 1.Fish Conservation CentreEast LothianScotland
  2. 2.Research and Collections, Canadian Museum of NatureOttawaCanada
  3. 3.Centre of Oceanography and Department of Animal Biology, Faculty of SciencesUniversity of LisbonLisbonPortugal
  4. 4.Aboriginal Fisheries Research Unit, Fisheries Centre and Department of ZoologyUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  5. 5.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada

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