Do summer temperatures trigger spring maturation in Pacific lamprey, Entosphenus tridentatus?


B. J. Clemens, Oregon Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331-3803 USA; e-mail:


Abstract –  Pacific lamprey, Entosphenus tridentatus, return to streams and use somatic energy to fuel maturation. Body size decreases, the lamprey mature, spawn, and then die. We predicted that warm, summer temperatures (>20 °C) would accentuate shrinkage in body size, and expedite sexual maturation and subsequent death. We compared fish reared in the laboratory at diel fluctuating temperatures of 20–24 °C (mean = 21.8 °C) with fish reared at cooler temperatures (13.6 °C). The results confirmed our predictions. Lamprey from the warm water group showed significantly greater proportional decreases in body weight following the summer temperature treatments than fish from the cool water group. A greater proportion of warm water fish sexually matured (100%) and died (97%) the following spring than cool water fish (53% sexually mature, 61% died). Females tended to mature and die earlier than males, most obviously in the warm water group.