MSc@Laurier: Development of an artificial feeding system for parasitic sea lamprey 

Wilfrid Laurier University

Development of an artificial feeding system for parasitic sea lamprey

Project Leaders(s): Jonathan M. Wilson (PI), Department of Biology, Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU), Waterloo, ON, N2L 3C5. Ph. 519 884-0710. Ext 2252. Email.

Nicholas Johnson, USGS, Hammond Bay Biological Station MI; Greg Fischer, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point WI; Tyler Firkus, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife/Institute for Integrative Toxicology, Michigan State University, MI.

Parasitic stage sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) require a supply of live host fishes to be maintained in captivity and therefore, present logistical and ethical challenges for researchers and culturists. Obtaining parasitic sea lamprey directly from the Great Lakes is unpredictable presenting a bottleneck for research. We have proposed overcoming the challenges of procuring and maintaining sea lamprey by developing an artificial feeding system so lamprey can be raised and maintained during their juvenile parasitic phase in a lab setting. Since parasitic sea lamprey feed on a liquid diet, we have developed a prototype feeding system that administers liquid food (blood or artificial blood) when suction is applied by the feeding lamprey. A concerted effort is needed to confirm that sea lamprey will indeed feed, grow, and survive on blood or artificial blood provided through the artificial feeding system at comparable rates to lamprey parasitizing live hosts.  Our goal is to improve the artificial feeding system and provide proof of concept that it can be a replacement for live host fishes to maintain parasitic sea lamprey in captivity.

We are looking for an independent student with a sound background in biology and/or fisheries and basic lab skills. Fish handling experience will be an asset for this hands-on project. Full training and supervision will be provided. A driver’s license and ability to travel are essential.

Start date: May 2019.

Conditions: The student will be registered as a M.Sc. in Integrative Biology at Wilfrid Laurier and must meet the acceptance criteria of the department (see link below). Most of their thesis work will be based at Wilfrid Laurier in Waterloo but the project also includes work at the USGS Hammond Bay Biological Station in Michigan with Dr. Nicholas Johnson.

Contact me at if you are interested and would like to know more.

To apply for this job email your details to