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Hearing capabilities and behavioural response of sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) to low-frequency sounds

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Hearing ability is well studied across teleost fishes in general, and vertebrates more broadly, but little is known about sound detection abilities of lampreys (Petromyzontiformes), a basal extant vertebrate group. The sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) is a destructive invader of the Laurentian Great Lakes, while numerous lamprey species (including the sea lamprey) are imperiled in their native ranges. In both management scenarios, behavioral manipulation tactics to control movement and distribution are desired. Therefore, we describe the hearing ability and behavioral responses of adult and juvenile sea lamprey to sound to reveal how hearing may have evolved in vertebrates and determine possible management applications. Based on auditory evoked potentials, sea lamprey detected tones of 50–300 Hz with equal sensitivity, but did not detect sounds above 300 Hz. In a laboratory bioassay, sea lamprey behaviorally responded to sound range of 50–200 Hz, with a general increase in swimming and a decrease in resting behaviours at both juvenile and adult stages relative to no-sound controls. To our knowledge, this is the first test of lamprey hearing, and the results support that sound may be a means to modify lamprey behaviour for management purposes.




Mickle, M. F., Miehls, S. M., Johnson, N. S., & Higgs, D. M. (2019). Hearing capabilities and behavioural response of sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) to low-frequency sounds. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 76(9), 1541–1548.

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