occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Year-round
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Year-round
Global Range: (200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)) The almost circumpolar range extends from Lapland eastward to Kamchatka, Russia, and south to Japan and Korea; also the Arctic and Pacific drainages of Alaska and northwestern Canada from the Anderson River and Mackenzie River drainage, Northwest Territories and northern Alberta (south to Great Slave and Artillery lakes), west and south to the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska (McPhail and Lindsey 1970, Page and Burr 2011).
Length: 23 cm
Catalog Number: USNM 21524
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Fishes
Collector(s): L. Turner
Locality: Anvik Yukon R. Alaska, Alaska, United States, North America
Habitat and Ecology
Habitat Type: Freshwater
Comments: Both anadromous and strictly freshwater forms exist. In the nonbreeding season, anadromous forms are at sea, freshwater forms in lakes or larger rivers. Ammocoetes burrow into soft stream margins and beds of silty mud in backwaters. Spawning occurs in clear streams of moderate flow, out of the main current, in depression or pit constructed by both sexes in gravel.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 1 sample.
Depth range (m): 8.5 - 55
Temperature range (°C): -0.055 - -0.055
Nitrate (umol/L): 7.786 - 7.786
Salinity (PPS): 32.770 - 32.770
Oxygen (ml/l): 6.159 - 6.159
Phosphate (umol/l): 1.173 - 1.173
Silicate (umol/l): 27.397 - 27.397
Depth range (m): 8.5 - 55
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.
Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.
Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).
Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.
Transformed lampreys move downstream to sea, lake, or larger river August-November. Adults migrate upstream to spawn in spring. Migrating adults often seen in vast swarms, particularly at obstructions (Scott and Crossman 1973).
Comments: Ammocoetes filter-feed on microscopic plants and animals. Adults parasitize and consume body juices of various fishes. Some freshwater populations have blunt teeth and may be nonparasitic. (Scott and Crossman 1973, Morrow 1980).
Number of Occurrences
Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.
Estimated Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Comments: This species is represented by a large number of occurrences (subpopulations).
100,000 to >1,000,000 individuals
Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but apparently quite large (likely greater than 100,000). This species is considered the most commonly occurring lamprey in Alaska, it is often locally abundant.
Preyed on by various predatory fishes, also by gulls, especially when in migratory concentrations in shallow streams. Lowering stream levels in late spring and summer may strand ammocoetes in dry stream edges. (Scott and Crossman 1973).
Life History and Behavior
Spawns late May-early July at water temperature of 12-15 C. Female may spawn with more than one male. Eggs hatch within a few weeks. Ammocoete stage lasts at least 1 year, possibly up to 4 year. Metamorphosis occurs in fall (Scott and Crossman 1973).
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Lethenteron camtschaticum
Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.
See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.
-- end --
Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Lethenteron camtschaticum
Public Records: 10
Specimens with Barcodes: 12
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 2008Least Concern
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N3 - Vulnerable
Rounded National Status Rank: N4 - Apparently Secure
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G4 - Apparently Secure
Reasons: Wide range in the northern hemisphere; apparently secure.
Total adult population size is unknown but apparently quite large (likely greater than 100,000). This species is considered the most commonly occurring lamprey in Alaska, it is often locally abundant.
Trend over the past 10 years or three generations is uncertain but probably relatively stable or slowly declining.
Global Short Term Trend: Relatively stable to decline of 30%
Comments: Trend over the past 10 years or three generations is uncertain but probably relatively stable or slowly declining.
Global Long Term Trend: Unknown
Comments: Threats to spawning habitat include pollution and water flow regulation or dams. Since little is known about local abundance and population trends, there is the potential for overharvest in subsistence and commercial fisheries. Lampreys appear to have habitat needs and life histories similar to anadromous salmon; therefore, in areas where salmon populations are declining, lampreys may also be at risk. The U.S.-Canadian lamprey control program focuses on eradication of the invasive sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) in the Great Lakes region and is not generally a threat to Arctic lamprey throughout the North American range. In Europe the species may be threatened by industrial pollution of spawning streams and capture of ammocoetes for use as bait (Lelek 1987, Renaud 1997).
Effects of parasitism on host species populations need further study.
It would be useful to compile existing data (e.g., commercial fish records, subsistence harvest documentation) from throughout the range to better assess population status (ADFG 2005). Surveys should be conducted at index locations to gauge population trend.
Biological Research Needs: Taxonomic status needs clarification; genetic studies are needed to better define the relationship between L. alaskensis and L. appendix. Understanding of taxonomic status and evolutionary history of this and other lamprey species may be improved by study of permanent freshwater populations and their relationship to anadromous life-forms of the same species (although no permanent freshwater populations of the Arctic lamprey are known from North America), as well as satellite species. Effects of parasitism on host species populations need further study.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
The Arctic lamprey (Lethenteron camtschaticum) is a species of lamprey, a jawless fish in the order Petromyzontiformes. It inhabits coastal freshwater habitat types in the Arctic. Some populations are anadromous, spending part of their lives in the ocean. It is the most common and widespread lamprey in the Arctic region.
This lamprey is usually about 13 to 32 centimetres (5.1 to 12.6 in) long, but specimens have been known to reach 63 centimetres (25 in) and 200 grams (7.1 oz) in weight. Non-anadromous individuals are rarely over 18 centimetres (7.1 in) long. It is brown, gray, or olive in color with a paler belly. There are two dorsal fins located near the tail, the posterior one larger than the anterior. They are larger in the male than in the female. The caudal fin has two lobes, the lower longer than the upper. It is continuous with the dorsal and anal fins. The anal fin of the male takes the form of a small ridge.
Distribution and habitat
The Arctic lamprey is a circumpolar species. Its range extends from Lapland eastward to Kamchatka and southward to Japan and Korea. It also inhabits the Arctic and Pacific drainages of Alaska and northwestern Canada. The adults live in freshwater habitat near the coast, such as rivers and lakes. It can be found over stony and sandy substrates, and shelters under vegetation.
The adult Arctic lamprey spawns in the gravel of riffles. The ammocoetes, as the lamprey larvae are known, are found in muddy freshwater habitats where they burrow in the mud and feed on detritus. It is generally an anadromous species, living in the ocean before migrating to fresh water to spawn, but some populations are permanent residents of fresh water.
The adult is generally a parasitic feeder that attaches to any of a number of other fish species, including salmon, lake trout, and lake whitefish. The smaller, non-migratory form is not parasitic. The juvenile consumes aquatic invertebrates, algae, and organic debris. This species is prey for other fish such as inconnu, northern pike, and burbot, and gulls feed on spawning aggregations. The eggs and larvae are food for sculpins.
The Arctic lamprey is a commercially important edible fish with fatty flesh. It is reared in aquaculture. The ammocoetes are used as bait. Threats to the spawning habitat of this species include pollution and the regulation of water flow by damming. Nevertheless, the IUCN has assessed this species as being of "Least Concern".
- NatureServe. 2013. Lethenteron camtschaticum. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. Downloaded on 15 October 2013.
- Froese, R. and D. Pauly. (Eds.) Lethenteron camtschaticum. FishBase. 2011.
- Arctic Lamprey: Lethenteron camtschaticum. Arctic Ocean Diversity.
- Arctic Lamprey, Lampetra japonica. Canada's Polar Life.
Names and Taxonomy
Comments: Systematics and nomenclature are debated; previously this species was recognized as Lampetra japonica; current correct name is L. camtschatica (see sources in Mecklenburg et al. 2002). Subgenus is Lethenteron, which has been regarded as a distinct genus by some authors (e.g., Hardisty and Potter 1971, but not Page and Burr 1991 or Robins et al. 1991). This species is closely related and likely ancestral to the nonparasitic American brook lamprey, Lampetra appendix (synonym: L. lamottenii) and Alaskan brook lamprey, L. alaskensis (Docker et al. 1999, Mecklenburg et al. 2002).
Recent genetic data (mitochondrial cytochrome b) indicate that L. camtschatica and L. alaskensis are genetically identical (L. alaskensis is considered a derivative or satellite species of L. camtschatica; Lang, pers. comm.). However, if life history is not a valid criterion for defining species, then on basis of morphology and genetic similarity all three species mentioned (L. appendix, L. camtschatica and L. alaskensis) may be referred to as L. camtschatica (Mecklenburg et al. 2002).
To request an improvement, please leave a comment on the page. Thank you!