European river lamprey

European river lamprey

"River Lamprey redirects here. See Lamprey River for the river in New Hampshire"Taxobox | name = European river lamprey
status = LR/nt | status_system = IUCN2.3

image_width = 280px
image_caption = European river lamprey ("Lampetra fluviatilis")
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Cephalaspidomorphi
ordo = Petromyzontiformes
familia = Petromyzontidae
genus = "Lampetra"
species = "L. fluviatilis"
binomial = "Lampetra fluviatilis"
binomial_authority = Linnaeus, 1758

European river lamprey, also known as the river lamprey, is a jawless lamprey, scientific name "Lampetra fluviatilis". It is found in coastal waters around almost all of Europe from the north-west Mediterranean Sea up to the lakes of Finland, Scotland, Norway (Lake Mjosa) and Russia, including rivers in the Alps. It feeds on ectoparasites and parasites of fish. It has a reproduction cycle similar to that of salmon. River lampreys (Lampetra fluviatilis) belong to the same genus as brook lamprey and are thought to be very closely related. Current thinking suggests that european brook and river lampreys are a paired species, which means the river lamprey represents the anadromous (sea going) form of the resident brook lamprey. However, this is an area that is still being actively researched.

River lampreys migrate upstream from the sea to spawning grounds in autumn/winter. Spawning activity is greatest in the springtime (like brook lamprey) and river lamprey ammocoetes also spend several years in soft sediment before migrating to sea as adults. It is not currently known how long these animals spend in marine habitats before making the return trip to spawn.


As ammocoetes, because of their close similarity to brook lamprey, it is very difficult to identify these animals beyond genus level (Lampetra). They average 30cm in length as adults but some may be considerably smaller (20cm) but in each case they are distinctly larger than adult brook lamprey (12-14cm). They are generally 150 g in mass, and their maximum life span is roughly 10 years.



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