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Performance of fast-start and burst swim behavior of sea lamprey and non-target fishes in shallow water
Ulrich G. Reinhardt1
1 Eastern Michigan University, Biology Department, 316 Mark Jefferson, Ypsilanti, MI, 48197. E-mail email@example.com
Wetted ramps are a suggested new design for selective sea lamprey barriers that exploits the fact that sea lampreys are poor burst swimmers and that swim performance is reduced at shallow water depths. I tested fast-start performance in shallow water and voluntary swim performance on wetted ramps in sea lampreys and a number of native Great Lakes teleost species. Fish were filmed with a high-speed camera while a fast-start was elicited by startling the fish. Frame by frame analysis revealed that the maximum and mean velocities of adult sea lampreys (in cm/s) were similar to that of sub-adult golden shiners and common suckers. When standardized to body length per second, sea lamprey showed poor maximum burst speeds of less than 3 BL/s. All species suffered a reduction in mean and maximum swim velocity between 15cm and 4 cm water depth, but there was no firm indication that sea lampreys suffered a greater loss of velocity (in cm/s) than the other species. In a second experiment, lampreys, white suckers and creek chub were observed for 6 hours while being challenged to swim up an experimental ramp of between 46 and 60 cm length, 1 cm water depth, and 10° and 20° inclination. The sea lampreys did not succeed in passing the ramp in any of 420 attempts. Creek chub and suckers were quite successful in moving up ramps, with a success rate between 11% and 37%. Sub-adult walleyes were tested, too, but made very few attempts to pass over the ramp. This study is the first to present a detailed analysis of sea lamprey fast-start behavior. However, fast-start performance in the horizontal was a poor predictor of passage success on the ramp in that similar fast-start performances among species lead to very different patterns of ramp passage success. This study’s results give additional support to the idea that inclined ramps with limited water flow could serve as selective sea lamprey barriers in the Great Lakes region. Experimentation with more species, larger fish and under field conditions should be the next step in the design and testing of sea lamprey ramps.