Pacific Lamprey, Entosphenus tridentatus, were historically widely distributed from Mexico north along the Pacific Rim to Japan. They are culturally important to indigenous people throughout their range, and play a vital role in the ecosystem: cycling marine nutrients, passing primary production up the food chain as filter feeding larvae, promoting bioturbation in sediments, and serving as food for many mammals, fishes and birds. Recent observations of substantial declines in the abundance and range of Pacific Lamprey have spurred conservation interest in the species, with increasing attention from tribes, agencies, and others.
In 2003 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) was petitioned by 11 conservation groups to list four species of lamprey in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and California, including the Pacific Lamprey, under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) (Nawa et al. 2003). The USFWS review of the petition indicated a likely decline in abundance and distribution in some portions of the Pacific Lamprey's range and the existence of both long-term and proximate threats to this species, but the petition did not provide information describing how the portion of the species’ petitioned range (California, Oregon, Idaho, and Washington) or any smaller portion is appropriate for listing under the ESA. The USFWS was therefore unable to define a listable entity based on the petition and determined Pacific Lamprey to be ineligible for listing (USFWS 2004).Keyword Tags: