Changes in foraging mode caused by a decline in prey size have major bioenergetic consequences for a small pelagic fish

Type Article
Date 2021-10
Language English
Author(s) Thoral Elisa1, Queiros QuentinORCID5, Roussel Dominique1, Dutto GilbertORCID3, Gasset EricORCID4, McKenzie DavidORCID5, Romestaing Caroline1, Fromentin Jean-MarcORCID2, Saraux ClaireORCID2, 6, Teulier LoïcORCID1
Affiliation(s) 1 : Univ Lyon, Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, CNRS, ENTPE, UMR 5023 LEHNA F‐69622 Villeurbanne ,France
2 : MARBEC, Univ Montpellier, CNRS, IFREMER, IRD Sète ,France
3 : Ifremer (Institut Français de Recherche pour l’Exploitation de la MER), Laboratoire SEA, Chemin de Maguelonne 34250 Palavas‐Les‐Flots ,France
4 : MARBEC, Univ Montpellier, CNRS, IFREMER, IRD Palavas‐Les‐Flots ,France
5 : MARBEC, Univ Montpellier, CNRS, IFREMER, IRD Montpellier, France
6 : IPHC, UMR7178, Université de Strasbourg, CNRS 67000 Strasbourg ,France
Source Journal Of Animal Ecology (0021-8790) (Wiley), 2021-10 , Vol. 90 , N. 10 , P. 2289-2301
DOI 10.1111/1365-2656.13535
WOS© Times Cited 18
Keyword(s) bioenergetics, fish shrinking, food restriction, foraging behaviour, mitochondria, red muscle, sardine

Global warming is causing profound modifications of aquatic ecosystems and one major outcome appears to be a decline in adult size of many fish species. Over the last decade, sardine populations in the Gulf of Lions (NW Mediterranean Sea) have shown severe declines in body size and condition as well as disappearance of the oldest individuals, which could not be related to overfishing, predation pressure or epizootic diseases.

In this study, we investigated whether this situation reflects a bottom-up phenomenon caused by reduced size and availability of prey that could lead to energetic constraints. We fed captive sardines with food items of two different sizes eliciting a change in feeding mode (filter-feeding on small items and directly capturing larger ones) at two different rations for several months, and then assessed their muscle bioenergetics to test for changes in cellular function.

Feeding on smaller items was associated with a decline in body condition, even at high ration, and almost completely inhibited growth by comparison to sardines fed large items at high ration.

Sardines fed on small items presented specific mitochondrial adjustments for energy sparing, indicating a major bioenergetic challenge. Moreover, mitochondria from sardines in poor condition had low basal oxidative activity but high efficiency of ATP production. Notably, when body condition was below a threshold value of 1.07, close to the mean observed in the wild, it was directly correlated with basal mitochondrial activity in muscle.

The results show a link between whole-animal condition and cellular bioenergetics in the sardine, and reveal physiological consequences of a shift in feeding mode. They demonstrate that filter-feeding on small prey leads to poor growth, even under abundant food and an increase in the efficiency of ATP production. These findings may partially explain the declines in sardine size and condition observed in the wild.

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Thoral Elisa, Queiros Quentin, Roussel Dominique, Dutto Gilbert, Gasset Eric, McKenzie David, Romestaing Caroline, Fromentin Jean-Marc, Saraux Claire, Teulier Loïc (2021). Changes in foraging mode caused by a decline in prey size have major bioenergetic consequences for a small pelagic fish. Journal Of Animal Ecology, 90(10), 2289-2301. Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :