Lampetra planeri | Brook Lamprey



Conservation status

Future Prospects
Overal Assessment of Conservation Status
Overal trend in Conservation Status
N / A

Source: NPWS 2013.

IUCN Conservation Status
Ireland (1)
Least Concern
Europe (2)
Least Concern
Global (1)
Least Concern

Sources: (1) King, J.L. et al, 2011; (2) Freyhof, J., 2013.

Legal status

Protected by the following legal instruments:

  • Habitats Annex II 
  • Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention) Appendix III
  • Fisheries Acts 1959 to 2006
  • Fisheries Act (Northern Ireland) 1966
  • Foyle Fisheries Act (NI) 1952
  • Foyle and Carlingford Fisheries Act 2007.

Sources: King et al 2011; Maitland, Peter S., 2004.

Native status


Species Biology


  • Agnathus (jawless) fish with mouth a sucker like disc instead.
  • In Lampetra planeri  there are relatively few teeth on the sucking disc and these are blunt- sharp in L. fluviatilis and Petromyzon marinus. Unlike those species, adult L. planeri is not parasitic on other species.
  • Has a single rather than a pair of nostrils and this between rather than in front of its eyes.
  • Has a line of seven gill openings behind each eye.
  • Adults are rather eel like in shape but lack paired fins although dorsal and caudal fins are present.
  • Adult length usually between 13cms and 15cms.
  • The smallest of the lamprey species regularly recorded in Ireland, and the only species that does not habitually migrate from freshwater at any life stage.
  • Adult colouration is grey on dorsal and lateral surfaces, paler underneath, with no obvious black mottling.

Sources:  Maitland P.S. 2003; Kurz, I. and Costello, M.J., 1999;Maitland, Peter S., 2004.


The availablity of appropriate substrates for adult spawning and ammocoete shelter and feeding are most important aspects of habitat, adults requiring gravels for spawning, ammocoetes requiring silt, sand, mud or clay substrates. Particularly for the adult stage there seems to be some tolerance of low levels of pollution.

Habitats include but are not necessarily limited to;

  • Eroding / upland rivers (FW1)
  • Depositing / lowland rivers (FW2)

Source:  Maitland P.S., 2003.

Flight period


April.- June.

A redd or nest is excavated by adults in gravel substrate.

Fertilisation takes place externally in the redd.

Males and females die after spawning.On hatching ammocoetes drift downstream to embed in silty substrate where they live as filter feeders for up to 5 years.

Following metamorphosis, timed to occur from July to September, newly metamorphosed adults swim short distances upstream of the ammocoete beds. Adults do not feed following metamorphosis.

Lifespan is 6-7 years.

Source: Maitland P.S., 2003.

Threats faced

Dredging / removal of limnic sediments 
Siltation rate changes,dumping, depositing of dredged deposits
  J02.11 Medium
Other point source pollution to surface waters 
H01.03 Medium
Diffuse pollution to surface waters due to agricultural and forestry activities 
Bait digging / collection
F02.03.01 Medium
Invasive non-native species
I01 Low
Source: NPWS 2013.

The 2011 Irish Red Data list for Amphibians, Reptiles and Freshwater Fish mentions man-made structures as providing an obstruction to dispersal for the Brook Lamprey.

Source: King et al 2011.

Conservation actions

In the Article 17 Habitats Directive reporting for the period 2007-2012Conservation Measures  implemented or being implemented during the period were;

  • Continued legal protection of the species and its habitats inside and outside of Natura 2000 sites.
  • Other wetland related measures* inside and outside of Natura 2000 sites.

*In guidance notes for Article 17 reporting 'other wetland-related measures' can include 'restoring / improving the hydrological regime' which could include 'removal of barriers and artificial margins'.

Sources: NPWS 2013; European Topic Centre on Biological Diversity.


World distribution(GBIF)

European. Ireland, Britain, Norway, Scandinavia, Baltic south to Portugal and to the mid-north coast of the Mediterranean.

Source: Froese, R. and D. Pauly. (eds.), 2014.

Accuracy of world distribution shown in the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) map below will be constrained by, amongst other factors, data held but not shared by countries and organizations not participating in the GBIF.

Irish distribution

Widespread in appropriate habitat.

Source: King et al 2011.

Temporal change

Records submitted to Data Centre in 2023

The following map is interactive. If you would prefer to view it full screen then click here.

How can you help

The National Biodiversity Data Centre is trying to improve our knowledge on the distribution of the Brook Lamprey in Ireland. Should you observe the species, please submit sighting to add to the database. Detailed observations will assist us gaining a better insight into where the species is most abundant in Ireland and we might also be able to detect regional variations. Please submit any sightings and photographs at:

All records submitted on line can be viewed on Google Maps – once checked and validated these will be added to the database and made available for conservation and research.

Further information

For further information contact Dr. Liam Lysaght



Fossitt, J.A. (2001) A Guide to Habitats in Ireland. The Heritage Council.

Freyhof, J. 2013. Lampetra planeri. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <>. Downloaded on 21 September 2014

Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2014. FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication., version (11/2014).

King, J.L., Marnell, F., Kingston, N., Rosell, R., Boylan, P., Caffrey, J.M., FitzPatrick, Ú., Gargan, P.G., Kelly, F.L., O’Grady, M.F., Poole, R., Roche, W.K. & Cassidy, D. (2011) Ireland Red List No. 5: Amphibians, Reptiles & Freshwater Fish. National Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Dublin, Ireland.

Kurz, I. and Costello, M.J. 1999 An outline of the biology, distribution and conservation of lampreys in Ireland. F. Marnell (ed.), Irish Wildlife Manuals, No. 5.

Maitland PS (2003). Ecology of the River, Brook and Sea Lamprey. Conserving Natura 2000 Rivers Ecology Series No. 5. English Nature, Peterborough

NPWS (2013) The Status of EU Protected Habitats and Species in Ireland.  Species Assessments Volume 3. Version 1.0. Unpublished Report, National Parks & Wildlife Services. Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Dublin, Ireland.