Larval growth in the river lamprey, Lampetra fluviatilis



A series of 987 ammocoetes from the rivers Towy, Teme, and Taw have been identified as mainly L. fluviatilis (L.) on the basis of oocyte counts on female ammocoetes. The length frequency distributions for this material differs from either L. planeri or P. marinus in showing only three modes in addition to the young of the year and the length distribution of the final mode coincides with the length range for 119 metamorphosing and macrophthalmia stages of L. fluviatilis that have been found at the same sites. These animals measured from 80–117 mm in length and weights varied from 0.76–2.28 g. Metamorphosis is believed to take place in late summer and early autumn when in the majority of cases, the ammocoetes are four and a half years old. The evidence that the non-parasitic L. planeri has a longer larval life than the closely related parasitic L. fluviatilis is thought to have some significance in relation to the evolution of the brook lamprey species.