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Aquatic Biology

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AB 12:281-289 (2011)  -  DOI:

Effects of starvation on swimming performance and body condition of pre-settlement Sparus aurata larvae

Ana M. Faria1,2, Maria A. Chícharo2, Emanuel J. Gonçalves1,*

1Eco-Ethology Research Unit, Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada, R. Jardim do Tabaco 34, 1149-041 Lisbon, Portugal
2Centre of Marine Sciences, CCMAR, University of Algarve, Campus de Gambelas, 8005-117 Faro, Portugal
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: Body condition in larval fishes is an important determinant of survival in the natural environment. However, few studies correlate body condition with behavioural traits critical for survival, such as swimming performance. In the present study, we compared normally fed larvae of gilthead seabream Sparus aurata Linnaeus, 1758, at various intervals post-hatch with larvae which were starved for 1 to 3 d (for Ucrit) or 2 d (for swimming endurance). Feeding treatment (fed and or unfed) had no effect on the relationship between Ucrit and larval size. However, in the endurance experiment, fed individuals swam twice as far as unfed larvae (19.7 km for fed larvae and 9.5 km for unfed larvae). The RNA/DNA ratio was higher in fed larvae in the Ucrit experiment, but significant effects were only detectable after a 3 d period of starvation. Fulton’s condition factor was significantly higher in fed larvae in the endurance trial, which suggests that growth (in weight) of starved larvae was affected by long-term swimming. Taken together, these results suggest that for­aging and orientation behaviours (activities in which critical speeds might be involved) are not affected by reduced feeding over a few days, but that sub-lethal effects of starvation may affect dispersal potential (for which endurance swimming is critical) and therefore compromise subsequent recruitment to the adult ­population.

KEY WORDS: Gilthead seabream · Swimming performance · Nutritional condition · Sub-lethal effects · RNA/DNA ratio · Fulton’s condition factor

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Cite this article as: Faria AM, Chícharo MA, Gonçalves EJ (2011) Effects of starvation on swimming performance and body condition of pre-settlement Sparus aurata larvae. Aquat Biol 12:281-289.

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