Quantitative data on morphology and organ weights during the protracted spawning-run period of the Southern Hemisphere lamprey Geotria australis



Data are presented for a wide variety of different measurements and observations made on representatives of the lamprey Geotria australis caught during the first four months after they had left the sea in seven successive years. Comparisons have been made with the trends shown by similar data obtained from animals subsequently held in the laboratory for a number of months to provide information on the subsequent pattern of changes and the duration of the spawning run. In comparison with anadromous holarctic species, the gonads at the beginning of the upstream migration in July were very small. The eggs, which did not yet contain yolk platelets, measured only 190 μm in diameter and took until October of the following year to reach 1120 μm, which is comparable to the size of the mature eggs of other lampreys. This indicates that the spawning run of G. australis lasts for the exceptionally long period of 16 months, which is consistent with the time of appearance of young larvae. At the commencement of the spawning run, the mean lengths and weights of G. australis were approximately 655 mm and 250 g. Hepatosomic (c. 0·8%) and heart ratios (c. 0·18%) were significantly lower than those of other species. The relatively long length of the trunk, which was associated with a very high mean myomere number (78·8), helped to compensate for a small body depth and permitted the production of a large number of eggs (mean fecundity 57,943). The intestine underwent rapid atrophy immediately after the animal entered fresh water, even though the gonads were not developing rapidly at this time. Migratory movements in the river were most marked on nights when water levels were rising, the temperature lay between 12 and 14.5°C, rain was falling and extensive cloud cover or the dark phase of the moon was present.