MEPS 257:99-110 (2003)  -  doi:10.3354/meps257099

Growth and seasonal energetics of the Antarctic bivalve Laternula elliptica from King George Island, Antarctica

In-Young Ahn1,*, Jeonghee Surh2, You-Gyoung Park2, Hoonjeong Kwon2, Kwang-Sik Choi3, Sung-Ho Kang1, Heeseon J. Choi1, Ko-Woon Kim1, Hosung Chung1

1Polar Sciences Laboratory, Korea Ocean Research & Development Institute (KORDI), Ansan, PO Box 29, Seoul 425-600, Republic of Korea
2Department of Food and Nutrition, Seoul National University, Sillim-dong, Kwanak-ku, Seoul 151-742, Republic of Korea
3Department of Aquaculture, Cheju National University, Ara-1-dong, Cheju 690-756, Republic of Korea

ABSTRACT: The Antarctic marine environment is characterized by extreme seasonality in primary production, and herbivores must cope with a prolonged winter period of food shortage. In this study, tissue mass and biochemical composition were determined for various tissues of the bivalve Laternula elliptica (King & Broderip) over a 2 yr period, and its storage and use of energy reserves were investigated with respect to seasonal changes in food level and water temperature. Total ash-free dry mass (AFDM) accumulated rapidly following phytoplankton blooms (with peak values immediately before and after spawning) and was depleted considerably during the spawning and winter periods. Most of the variation was in the muscle, gonads and digestive gland. Spawning peaked in January and February and caused considerable protein and lipid losses in the muscle, gonads and digestive gland. In winter (March to August), the muscle and digestive gland lost considerable mass, while gonad mass increased; this suggests that the muscle tissue and digestive gland serve as major energy depots for both maintenance metabolism and gonad development in winter. There were also marked year-to-year differences in the seasonal patterns of mass variation and reproduction. Overall, the relative and absolute tissue-mass values were positively correlated with chlorophyll concentration, and were not related to water temperature; thus, for the first time, this study clearly shows that food is an important factor governing growth and gonad maturation in this bivalve. It is also noteworthy that protein, constituting ~75% of AFDM, served as the major energy reserve throughout the study, closely following the AFDM variation. In particular, during the winter months, protein comprised >60% of AFDM loss, while lipids and glycogen served as minor (<20% each) reserves. Protein loss was most substantial in the muscle tissue, which comprised half of the body tissue. Thus, protein use, with muscle tissues as a depot for protein reserves, may be a result of selective pressure on Antarctic marine herbivores undergoing a prolonged period of food shortage in winter.

KEY WORDS: Antarctic bivalve · Laternula elliptica · Growth · Energy reserve · Biochemical composition · Protein · Reproduction

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