The use of PIT telemetry to study movements of ammocoetes and metamorphosing sea lampreys in river beds

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Passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags were surgically implanted in 118 sea lamprey Petromyzon marinus ammocoetes which were left to recover in the laboratory for 2 months. During this period 55 individuals started to metamorphose. In the late summer of 2002 the tagged animals were released in a small tributary of the River Mondego, Portugal, and were regularly monitored for a period of 2 months using a portable PIT tag reader. The distribution of the released animals changed from an initial uniform pattern to a random distribution, and then to an aggregated pattern. At the end of the first week 60% of the tagged sea lampreys had already left the study area, indicating their dynamic behaviour. Ammocoetes were more active than metamorphosing sea lampreys, and downstream movements were more frequent when compared to the upstream ones, which were usually a short distance. In order to determine the influence of the dark‐light cycle in the diel activity rhythms, 10 tagged sea lamprey ammocoetes were released in a tank (2000 l capacity) and their position monitored twice a day, for a period of 1 month. Ammocoetes locomotor activity appeared to be conditioned by circadian rhythms, and they were particularly active during darkness.

Keywords: PIT; ammocoete; diel activity rhythms; movement; portable reader

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: Instituto de Oceanografia, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, Campo Grande, 1749 - 016 Lisboa, Portugal and

Publication date: January 1, 2005

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