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Endangered Species Research

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ESR 8:233-247 (2009)  -  DOI:

Endangered anadromous lampreys in the southern Baltic Sea: spatial distribution, long-term trend, population status

Ralf Thiel1,*, Helmut M. Winkler2, Philip Riel3, Renate Neumann1, Tomas Gröhsler4,  Uwe Böttcher4, Siegfried Spratte5, Uwe Hartmann5

1Biocenter Grindel and Zoological Museum, University of Hamburg, Martin-Luther-King-Platz 3, 20146 Hamburg, Germany
2Department of Biological Sciences, University of Rostock, Universitätsplatz 2, 18055 Rostock, Germany
3Zoological Institute and Museum, Ernst-Moritz-Arndt University Greifswald, Johann Sebastian Bach-Straße 11/12,
17487 Greifswald, Germany
4Institute of Baltic Sea Fisheries, Johann Heinrich von Thünen Institute, Federal Research Institute for Rural Areas, Forestry  and Fisheries, Alter Hafen Süd 2, 18069 Rostock, Germany
5Office for Rural Areas, Department of Fishery, Wischhofstr. 1-3, 24148 Kiel, Germany

ABSTRACT: We analysed ~310 records of river lampreys Lampetra fluviatilis (Linnaeus, 1758) (~19977663 specimens) and 54 records of sea lampreys Petromyzon marinus Linnaeus, 1758 (~86 specimens) for the southern parts of ICES Subdivisions 22 and 24 to 26 in the Baltic Sea covering the period 1649 to 2005. Most sea lamprey records came from Subdivisions 22 and 24. The majority of river lamprey records stem from Subdivisions 24 and 26. We found no distinct temporal trend for sea lamprey stock development. However, a long-term trend showing decreasing catches of river lamprey was detected, indicating a stock decrease of this species from 1887 to 1999. The largest numbers of lamprey (largely river lamprey but may include some sea lamprey as species were not distinguished in the past) were caught in the period 1890 to 1919. Approximately 82% of the total lamprey catch in our study area was made in Subdivision 26. Roughly 65.3% of the mean annual yield of lampreys came from the lower Vistula River, the Vistula Lagoon and the Bay of Gdańsk. The river lamprey was mainly distributed in estuarine and coastal marine areas. Offshore records of sea lamprey were also rare. From 1990 to 2005, most river lamprey records and recorded individuals originated from the Szczecin Lagoon and its adjacent waters, demonstrating the present importance of these waters for their spawning migrations. Of 9 known river lamprey spawning sites, 5 were found in the Peene River system which flows into the Szczecin Lagoon. At present, no sea lamprey reproduction site is known from rivers of the German Baltic Sea area. A rebuilding programme is required for the river lamprey; this should definitely contain measures to restore lost spawning sites and the connectivities within the river systems where spawning populations still occur. Protected areas in estuarine waters with important lamprey migration routes may be an additional measure for the conservation of these anadromous species.

KEY WORDS: River lamprey · Lampetra fluviatilis · Sea lamprey · Petromyzon marinus · Baltic Sea · Past distribution · Commercial catch · Recent records

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Cite this article as: Thiel R, Winkler HM, Riel P, Neumann R and others (2009) Endangered anadromous lampreys in the southern Baltic Sea: spatial distribution, long-term trend, population status. Endang Species Res 8:233-247.

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