aqua journal

Book review – Lampreys: Biology, Conservation and Control

Lampreys: Biology, Conservation and Control
Edited by Docker M. F. 2019.
Springer International Publishing.
Fish & Fisheries Series.
ISBN 978-94-024-1682-4
DOI: 10.1007/978-94-024-1684-8

Fish comprise a large and diverse group of vertebrates in the world. The widespread ecological and environmental changes in aquatic habitats and the high sensitivity of fish to these changes have caused these organisms to be more threatened than other vertebrates (Woodward et al. 2010). Many researchers acknowledge that large populations of fish species have been severely threatened by various anthropogenic activities such as pollution, overfishing, coastal development and habitat destruction over the past years (Radkhah & Eagderi, 2019a; Radkhah & Eagderi, 2019b). Investigating this issue indicates that comprehensive cooperation of international and national organizations is essential to conservation of important ecological fish species in the world.
Lampreys (or agnathans) are jawless fish that belong to the order Petromyzontiformes (Green & Bronner, 2014; Evans et al. 2018). These organisms are actually fish without jaws with a sucking, funnel-like and toothed mouth (McCauley et al. 2015). These fish are a very old group of vertebrates. Hence, they are also referred to as living fossils (Green & Bronner, 2014). Researchers have stated that this group of fish has remained largely unchanged for more than 500 million years (Nikitina et al. 2009).
Lampreys consist of approximately 40 species that are divided into 3 families and 10 genera (McCauley et al. 2015). These fish often live in coastal waters and have two distinct stages in their life history; the larval stage (ammocoete) and adult stage. Unfortunately, the habitat destruction of these fishes by various human activities has caused to be disturbed many of their biological and ecological behaviors such as feeding and migration (Radkhah & Eagderi, 2019a). Although reports indicate that lamprey populations are threatened, many researchers have addressed the negative effects of these fishes on aquatic bodies (Moser et al. 2002). Studies have shown that some species of these fish, such as sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus), are parasitic species that feed on the blood and body fluids of the host fish (). This suggests that, in addition to conservation activities, precautionary measures should also be considered to control the spread of some species of these fishes.
So far, various studies have been carried out on lamprey species in different parts of the world. However, there are still many questions about their biological, ecological, conservation and control aspects. Therefore, given the ecological importance of these fishes, it is essential to be comprehensively studied biological characteristics and techniques applied for their conservation and control. In light of this, the present work aimed to review the published book entitled “ Lampreys: Biology, Conservation and Control”. This book is edited by Professor Margaret F. Docker, who is a research fellow at the department of biological sciences, University of Manitoba, Canada. In recent years, various scientific works have been carried out on the biological characteristics of lampreys by this researcher, which has been published in different international journals. She states that studying the life history diversity and evolution, especially in lampreys, is one of her research interests.
The introduced book (Fig. 1) has 7 chapters and was published by springer international publishing in 2019. It provides useful and valuable information to readers and enthusiasts about the biological features and conservation status of lampreys. The book is very well structured and has attempted to study all aspects of the lamprey’s biological characteristics in a comprehensive way. Most of the authors of this book are researchers, biologists, and ichthyologists who share their knowledge and experiences from research works over many years. Hence, it is expected that the present book will be very rich and valuable. Here, we briefly review the information and topics presented in each chapter of the book:
The first chapter examines the development of gonad in the lampreys. The authors of this chapter acknowledge that due to the complex life cycle of lampreys, it is difficult to understand their gonadal development. This chapter provides important information on life cycle, sex ratio, sexual maturation, sex determination, sex differentiation, egg size, fecundity, and gonadal steroids.
Chapter 2 discusses the early stages of life and reproduction in the lampreys. In this chapter, the authors introduce lampreys as model organisms and then examine their artificial propagation from various dimensions. They address in detail the various topics surrounding artificial proliferation, including broodstock holding, broodstock maturation, fertilization methods, and incubation methods, and rearing early larvae.
In chapter 3, post-metamorphic feeding in lampreys is investigated. The authors state that eighteen species of lampreys feed on post-metamorphosis worldwide. They express that post-metamorphosis feeding of these fishes typically include fish, but in some cases it may include marine mammals. This chapter also discusses feeding morphology, growth period, and feeding behavior of these fish. The authors of this chapter state that there are four feeding strategies for lampreys: carrion feeding, flesh feeding, blood feeding, and blood and flesh feeding.
Chapter 4 focuses on the evolution of lamprey life and examines the types of feeding and migration in these fish. This chapter first discusses the life history of ancestral lampreys. In the following, variation in the migratory type is mentioned, and anadromous species are introduced in more detail. The authors of this chapter examine the potential of anadromous lampreys to become invasive species in freshwater systems. In one part of this chapter, the origin of lamprey is discussed. For example, the authors have investigated the origin of sea Lamprey in Lake Ontario and Lake Champlain. In the following, variations in the type of feeding and factors that contribute to the prevalence or limitation of non-parasitic evolution in lampreys are investigated. In this chapter, the authors attempt to provide information on lamprey’s life history in both migration and feeding aspects to present a new insight into the evolution of life history of these vertebrates.
Chapter 5 first investigate the biological characteristics of sea lampreys. Then, the authors focus specifically on the control of invasive sea lampreys in the Great Lakes, Lake Champlain, and Finger Lakes of New York. They also mention to the biological responses of sea lampreys and their control techniques. In this chapter, the authors emphasize to prevent the spread of sea lampreys into new waters. They state that this should be a priority for management and conservation programs. At the end of this chapter, various topics are studied, including emerging control techniques, the use of pheromones and repellants, genetic strategies, and improved control techniques.
In Chapter 6, lamprey is introduced as a model organism for evolutionary developmental biology. At the beginning of this chapter, the historical background of sea lampreys development and their phylogenetic information are investigated. Then, comprehensive studies on the evolution of lampreys are discussed. It should be noted that this chapter also focuses on the functional and useful techniques for examining the development of lamprey species and their laboratory culture.
The final chapter, chapter 7, is entitled “lampreys in the 21st century and beyond”. This chapter begins with a brief introduction and then refers to the lamprey taxonomy. In addition, the authors of this chapter provide new and useful tools for conservation and control of lampreys. Finally, the progress and challenges facing for the conservation of lamprey species are proposed.
The current book has remarkable features and characteristics that distinguish it from other references. An important feature of this book is the presentation of new information on the biological characteristics, conservation and control techniques of lamprey species. In fact, the authors of this book have tried hard to use up-to-date and reliable references in its writing. Hence, the biological information presented in this book is based on the latest studies conducted by researchers worldwide. Another important feature is that it enables the reader to have a detailed understanding of the information presented by providing relevant and related graphs, tables, and illustrations. Another notable feature of the book include a summary at the beginning and a conclusion at the end of each chapter that give the reader a brief overview of its main points.
With these features in mind, the current book has attempted to comprehensively and precisely examine all aspects related to the biology, conservation and control of lamprey. Therefore, we recommend it as an excellent and valid reference, as it can answer many of the questions posed by ichthyology researchers and specialists about lamprey biology. Given this, it is essential that copies of this authoritative book be made available to students and teachers in the fields of fisheries, ichthyology, and biology at research centers and universities.

Evans, T. M., Janvier, P. & Docker, M. F. 2018. The evolution of lamprey (Petromyzontida) life history and the origin of metamorphosis. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries 28 (4): 825-38.
DOI: 10.1007/s11160-018-9536-z.
Green, S. A. & Bronner, M. E. 2014. The Lamprey: A jawless vertebrate model system for examining origin of the neural crest and other vertebrate traits. Differentiation 87 (0): 44-51.
DOI: 10.1016/j.diff.2014.02.001.
McCauley, D. W., Docker, M. F., Whyard, S. & Li, W. 2015. Lampreys as Diverse Model Organisms in the Genomics Era. Bioscience 65 (11): 1046-56.
DOI: 10.1093/biosci/biv139.
Moser, M., Bayer, J. & Kinlay, D. M. 2002. The biology of lampreys. International Congress on the Biology of Fish, held at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver B.C., Canada, July 22-25, 2002.
Nikitina, N., Bronner-Fraser, M. & Sauka-Spengler, T. 2009. The sea lamprey Petromyzon marinus: a model for evolutionary and developmental biology. Cold Spring Harb Protoc 2009 (1): pdb.emo113.
DOI: 10.1101/pdb.emo113.
Radkhah, A. R. & Eagderi, S. 2019a. Book Review – Fishes in Lagoons and Estuaries in the Mediterranean 2: Sedentary Fish. Acta Zoologica Bulgarica 71 (3): 463-64.
Radkhah, A. R. & Eagderi, S. 2019b. Threatened fishes of the world: Anoxypristis cuspidata (Latham, 1794) (Pristidae). Journal of Fisheries 7 (1): 681-84.
Woodward, G., Perkins, D. M. & Brown, L. E. 2010. Climate change and freshwater ecosystems: impacts across multiple levels of organization. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. 365 (1549): 2093-2106. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2010.0055.

Ali Reza Radkhah & Soheil Eagderi
Department of Fisheries, Faculty of Natural Resources, University of Tehran, Karaj, Iran
Corresponding author: E-mail:


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