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Fish face a trade-off between 'eating big' for growth efficiency and 'eating small' to retain aerobic capacity


Norin, T and Clark, TD, Fish face a trade-off between 'eating big' for growth efficiency and 'eating small' to retain aerobic capacity, Biology Letters, 13, (9) Article 20170298. ISSN 1744-9561 (2017) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

2017 The Author(s)

DOI: doi:10.1098/rsbl.2017.0298


Feeding provides the necessary energy to fuel all fitness-related processes including activity, growth and reproduction. Nevertheless, prey consumption and digestive processes can have physical and physiological trade-offs with other critical functions, many of which are not clearly understood. Using an ambush predator, barramundi (Lates calcarifer), fed meals ranging 0.63.4% of body mass, we examined interrelations between meal size, growth efficiency and surplus aerobic metabolic capacity (aerobic scope, AS). Large meals required a greater absolute investment of energy to process (a larger so-called specific dynamic action, SDA), but the percentage of digestible meal energy required in the SDA response (SDA coefficient) decreased with increasing meal size. Combined with the findings that growth rate and growth efficiency also increased with food intake, our results demonstrate that it is energetically advantageous for fish to select large prey. However, following a large meal, SDA processes occupied up to 77% of the available AS, indicating that other oxygen-demanding activities like swimming may be compromised while large meals are processed. This trade-off between meal size and AS suggests that fishes like barramundi would benefit from regulating prey size based on imminent requirements and threats.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:fish, barramundi, digestion, growth, predator-prey
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Zoology
Research Field:Animal physiological ecology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Coastal and estuarine systems and management
Objective Field:Coastal or estuarine biodiversity
UTAS Author:Clark, TD (Dr Timothy Clark)
ID Code:123598
Year Published:2017
Web of Science® Times Cited:29
Deposited By:Fisheries and Aquaculture
Deposited On:2018-01-14
Last Modified:2018-04-13

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