A previous model of feeding by sea lamprey Petromyzon marinus predicted energy intake and growth by lampreys as a function of lamprey size, host size, and duration of feeding attachments, but it was applicable only to lampreys feeding at 10A?C and it was tested against only a single small data set of limited scope. We extended the model to other temperatures and tested it against an extensive data set (more than 700 feeding bouts) accumulated during experiments with captive sea lampreys. Model predictions of instantaneous growth were highly correlated with observed growth, and a partitioning of mean squared error between model predictions and observed results showed that 88.5% of the variance was due to random variation rather than to systematic errors. However, deviations between observed and predicted values varied substantially, especially for short feeding bouts. Predicted and observed growth trajectories of individual lampreys during multiple feeding bouts during the summer tended to correspond closely, but predicted growth was generally much higher than observed growth late in the year. This suggests the possibility that large overwintering lampreys reduce their feeding rates while attached to hosts. Seasonal or size-related shifts in the fate of consumed energy may provide an alternative explanation. The lamprey feeding model offers great flexibility in assessing growth of captive lampreys within various experimental protocols (e.g., different host species or thermal regimes) because it controls for individual differences in feeding history.
Additional publication details
Testing and extension of a sea lamprey feeding model