Swimming Performance and Physiological Responses to Exhaustive Exercise in Radio-Tagged and Untagged Pacific Lampreys

Publication Date



lamprey, Pacific lamprey, swimming, swimming performance

Journal or Book Title

Transactions of the American Fisheries Society


Populations of Pacific lamprey Lampetra tridentata have declined in the Columbia River basin. One factor that may have contributed to this reduction in population size is an excessive use of energy by adult lampreys as they negotiate fishways at dams during spawning migrations. To gain an understanding of the performance capacity of Pacific lampreys, we estimated the critical swimming speed (Ucrit) and documented physiological responses of radio-tagged and untagged adult lampreys exercised to exhaustion. The mean (±SD) Ucrit of untagged lampreys was 86.2 ± 7.5 cm/s at 15°C, whereas the Ucrit for radio-tagged lampreys was 81.5 ± 7.0 cm/s, a speed that was significantly lower than that of untagged fish. The physiological responses of tagged and untagged lampreys subjected to exhaustive exercise included decreases in blood pH of 0.3-0.5 units, a 40% decrease in muscle glycogen levels, a 22% increase in hematocrit for untagged fish only, and a 4- to 5-fold increase in muscle and a 40- to 100-fold increase in plasma lactate concentrations. These physiological changes were significant compared with resting control fish and usually returned to resting levels by 1-4 h after fatigue. Our estimates of Ucrit for Pacific lampreys are the first quantitative measures of their swimming performance and suggest that these fish may have difficulty negotiating fishways at dams on the Columbia River, which can have water velocities approaching 2 m/s. Our physiological results indicate that tagged and untagged Pacific lampreys show similar metabolic dysfunction after exhaustive exercise but recover quickly from a single exposure to such a stressor.





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