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Meeting energy budgets by modulation of behaviour and physiology in the eel (Anguilla anguilla L.).

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School of Biological Sciences, Hatherly Laboratories, University of Exeter, Prince of Wales Road, EX4 4PS, Exeter, UK.


Availability of energy for feeding, and the scope to accommodate the associated increase in oxygen demand (SDA: specific dynamic action) can, to a large degree, regulate the future feeding and energy availability of an animal. There is a fundamental conflict between locomotion and SDA within the physiological capacity of a mobile organism to respire sufficiently in order to simultaneously meet both requirements. This paper is a first attempt to integrate the costs of behaviour and physiology and produce a testable model of energy allocation in the eel. Total oxygen consumption (metabolic rate MO2) of the eel (Anguilla anguilla L.) was 109 micromol O2 x g(-1) x day(-1) with a cost of measured protein synthesis representing 49% of this value, and measured routine swimming (locomotor) activity representing approximately 34%. By allocating periods of reduced activity, the eel is able to develop a strategy to prudently meet the costs of feeding and temporally balance energy budgets (in terms of oxygen) by modulation of the behaviour and demands of physiology.

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