Prediction of how host mortality responds to efforts to control sea lampreys (Petromyzon marinus) is central to the integrated management strategy for sea lamprey (IMSL) in the Great Lakes. A parasite-host submodel is used as part of this strategy, and this includes a type-2 multi-species functional response, a developmental response, but no numerical response. General patterns of host species and size selection are consistent with the model assumptions, but some observations appear to diverge. For example, some patterns in sea lamprey marking on hosts suggest increases in selectivity for less preferred hosts and lower host survival when preferred hosts are scarce. Nevertheless, many of the IMSL assumptions may be adequate under conditions targeted by fish community objectives. Of great concern is the possibility that the survival of young parasites (parasitic-phase sea lampreys) varies substantially among lakes or over time. Joint analysis of abundance estimates for parasites being produced in streams and returning spawners could address this. Data on sea lamprey marks is a critical source of information on sea lamprey activity and potential effects. Theory connecting observed marks to sea lamprey feeding activity and host mortality is reviewed. Uncertainties regarding healing and attachment times, the probability of hosts surviving attacks, and problems in consistent classification of marks have led to widely divergent estimates of damages caused by sea lamprey. Laboratory and field studies are recommended to provide a firmer linkage between host blood loss, host mortality, and observed marks on surviving hosts, so as to improve estimates of damage.
Additional publication details
Sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) parasite-host interactions in the Great Lakes