Gemmell Lab PhD student Allison Miller has just seen her long awaited review on Southern Hemisphere lampreys finally published in Fish Biology and Fisheries.
Lampreys are jawless eel-like fishes that are commonly referred to as “living fossils” due to their evolutionarily consistent body morphology (over 360 million years old). Of the three families of lamprey, two (Geotriidae and Mordaciidae) are found only in the Southern Hemisphere and include five species: Mordacia mordax, M. lapicida, M. praecox, Geotria australis, and G. macrostoma.
Certain species of Southern Hemisphere lampreys hold cultural and ecological significance. For example, G. australis (kanakana in Te Reo Māori and filoko in Mapudungun) is harvested by Māori, Mapuche, and Nyungar people in New Zealand, Chile, and Australia and all five species are energy-rich prey sources for native and IUCN endangered species.
Relative to many of their Northern Hemisphere relatives, Southern Hemisphere lampreys have been poorly studied and the scholarship that did exist focused either on taxonomy and systematics, or were minor portions of larger reviews. To resolve this we gathered information regarding the taxonomy, systematics, distribution, biology, ecology, genetics, threats, and importance of the five Southern Hemisphere species and present it in a comprehensive review. We collected this information from multiple sources (e.g., agency reports, Indigenous knowledge, and peer-reviewed publications that date back to the late 1800’s) to clarify for a wide audience (technicians, managers, researchers, and stakeholders) what is already known and to identify information gaps to which must be addressed. This article is timely as Southern Hemisphere lamprey species are threatened by lamprey reddening syndrome (LRS), climate change, and other anthropogenic stressors.
Congratulations to Allison on her recent publication!