On the edge of death: Rates of decline and lower thresholds of biochemical condition in food-deprived fish larvae and juveniles

Meyer, S., Caldarone, E. M., Chícharo, M. A., Clemmesen, Catriona, Faria, A. M., Faulk, C., Folkvord, A., Holt, G. J., Høie, H., Kanstinger, P., Malzahn, Arne, Moran, D., Petereit, Christoph, Støttrup, J. G. and Peck, M. A. (2011) On the edge of death: Rates of decline and lower thresholds of biochemical condition in food-deprived fish larvae and juveniles Journal of Marine Systems, 93 (May). pp. 11-24. DOI 10.1016/j.jmarsys.2011.09.010.

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Gaining reliable estimates of how long fish early life stages can survive without feeding and how starvation rate and time until death are influenced by body size, temperature and species is critical to understanding processes controlling mortality in the sea. The present study is an across-species analysis of starvation-induced changes in biochemical condition in early life stages of nine marine and freshwater fishes. Data were compiled on changes in body size (dry weight, DW) and biochemical condition (standardized RNA–DNA ratio, sRD) throughout the course of starvation of yolk-sac and feeding larvae and juveniles in the laboratory. In all cases, the mean biochemical condition of groups decreased exponentially with starvation time, regardless of initial condition and endogenous yolk reserves. A starvation rate for individuals was estimated from discrete 75th percentiles of sampled populations versus time (degree-days, Dd). The 10th percentile of sRD successfully approximated the lowest, life-stage-specific biochemical condition (the edge of death). Temperature could explain 59% of the variability in time to death whereas DW had no effect. Species and life-stage-specific differences in starvation parameters suggest selective adaptation to food deprivation. Previously published, interspecific functions predicting the relationship between growth rate and sRD in feeding fish larvae do not apply to individuals experiencing prolonged food deprivation. Starvation rate, edge of death, and time to death are viable proxies for the physiological processes under food deprivation of individual fish pre-recruits in the laboratory and provide useful metrics for research on the role of starvation in the sea.

► Biochemical condition (RNA–DNA ratio) decreases exponentially during starvation. ► Starvation parameters of individuals can be derived from data collected on groups. ► Physiological rates of starvation compare well across a broad range of temperatures. ► Species and life stages specific starvation parameters indicate selective adaptation.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: Evolutionary Ecology of Marine Fishes; Ichthyology; RNA–DNA ratio; Starvation rate; Mortality threshold; Time to death; Percentile approach
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB3 Marine Ecology > FB3-EV Evolutionary Ecology of Marine Fishes
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB3 Marine Ecology > FB3-EOE-B Experimental Ecology - Benthic Ecology
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1016/j.jmarsys.2011.09.010
ISSN: 0924-7963
Projects: ECODRIVE
Date Deposited: 30 Nov 2011 13:34
Last Modified: 13 Jul 2017 08:35
URI: http://eprints.uni-kiel.de/id/eprint/12632

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