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Mountain Brook Lamprey


SCIENTIFIC NAME: Ichthyomyzon greeleyi

CHARACTERISTICS: The dorsal fin is slightly notched but is not divided into two distinct fins. On live individuals, the expanded oral disc is narrower than the head. This species is the only nonparasitic lamprey in Alabama that has sharp, well-developed teeth. The buccal cavity has two or three supraorals teeth above the oral opening and three to five bicuspid teeth on either side. Myomeres between the last gill opening and the anus number from 57 to 60. Lateral line organs are black on the back and unpigmented on the venter, a characteristic that separates this species from all other lampreys in Alabama. The body is tan to light gray above and gray to white mottling on the venter. All fins are tan to butterscotch.

ADULT SIZE: 4.5 to 7.1 in (115 to 180 mm)

DISTRIBUTION: The Tennessee River drainage forms the southern range limit for the mountain brook lamprey. Rohde and Lantrigne-Courchene (1978b) include only one collection station in Alabama. At Shoal Creek in Lauderdale County, we recently collected individuals at two stations. Although future sampling conducted in early spring may reveal a slightly larger range, we believe this species’ occurrence is limited in Alabama.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: The mountain brook lamprey normally inhabits small, clear, high-gradient streams, where it occurs over gravel and sand in moderate currents. In Alabama this species’ spawning time and behavior are unstudied. In Tennessee, Etnier and Starnes (1993) observed spawning activity in early May. For lampreys in western North Carolina, Beamish and Austin (1985) estimate that the larval stage lasts from five to seven years.

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Hubbs and Trautman described the mountain brook lamprey in 1937.

Ichthy means fish.
Myzon means sucking.
Greeleyi means in honor of John R. Greeley, who discovered the species.

The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin.

Note: In Alabama, it is illegal to stock or move any fish, mussel, snail or crayfish to any public water without a permit.

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