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J Exp Mar Bio Ecol. 2000 May 18;248(1):53-78.

Lipid content and energy density of forage fishes from the northern Gulf of Alaska.

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Oregon Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, US Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division, and Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University, 104 Nsah Hall, Corvallis, OR, USA


Piscivorous predators can experience multi-fold differences in energy intake rates based solely on the types of fishes consumed. We estimated energy density of 1151 fish from 39 species by proximate analysis of lipid, water, ash-free lean dry matter, and ash contents and evaluated factors contributing to variation in composition. Lipid content was the primary determinant of energy density, ranging from 2 to 61% dry mass and resulting in a five-fold difference in energy density of individuals (2.0-10.8 kJg(-1) wet mass). Energy density varied widely within and between species. Schooling pelagic fishes had relatively high or low values, whereas nearshore demersal fishes were intermediate. Pelagic species maturing at a smaller size had higher and more variable energy density than pelagic or nearshore species maturing larger. High-lipid fishes had less water and more protein than low-lipid fishes. In some forage fishes, size, month, reproductive status, or location contributed significantly to intraspecific variation in energy density. Differences in quality are sufficient to potentially affect diet selection of breeding seabirds, especially when transporting food for their young to the nest site.

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