Behavioural patterns of sea lampreys’ spawning migration through difficult passage areas, studied by electromyogram telemetry

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Electromyogram telemetry (EMG) was used to study the behaviour of sea lamprey Petromyzon marinus during migration through difficult passage areas. When swimming on stretches free from obstacles, the EMG values of sea lampreys showed a constant pattern of activity. Conversely, when negotiating difficult passage areas their behaviour were characterized by alternating between short bursts of intense activity (i.e. burst movements) and periods of motionless rest during which sea lampreys attached to convenient structures by means of the oral sucker. During blockstone weirs negotiation, tagged sea lampreys spent on average 23% of the time swimming rapidly by means of multiple bouts of burst movements of 31 s duration. To recover from each burst movement, the sea lampreys spent on average 2 min 25 s resting. Sea lampreys seemed affected by increasing fatigue, which probably resulted from initiating a new burst movement without fully recovering physiologically from the previous efforts.

Keywords: EMG telemetry; Petromyzon marinus; River Mondego; activity effort; burst swimming; obstacle negotiation

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: 1: Instituto de Oceanografia, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, Campo Grande, 1749-016 Lisboa, Portugal, 2: Danish Institute for Fisheries Research, Department of Inland Fisheries, Vejlsøvej 39, DK-8600 Silkeborg, Denmark and

Publication date: October 1, 2004

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