MEPS 544:225-241 (2016)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11575

Geographic variation in stable isotopic and fatty acid composition of anguilliform leptocephali and particulate organic matter in the South Pacific

Camilla Liénart1,8,*, Eric Feunteun1,2, Michael J. Miller3,4, Jun Aoyama3, Jean-Michel Mortillaro1, Cédric Hubas1, Mari Kuroki5, Shun Watanabe3,4, Christine Dupuy6, Alexandre Carpentier7, Tsuguo Otake3,5, Katsumi Tsukamoto3,4, Tarik Meziane1

1Unité Mixte de Recherche ‘Biologie des organismes et écosystèmes aquatiques’ (BOREA, UMR 7208), Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Université de Caen Normandie, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement-207, Université des Antilles; CP53, 61 rue Buffon, 75005 Paris, France
2Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Station Marine de Dinard, CRESCO, 38 rue du port Blanc, 35800 Dinard, France
3Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute, The University of Tokyo, 5-1-5 Kashiwanoha, Kashiwa, Chiba 277-8564, Japan
4Laboratory of Eel Science, Department of Marine Science and Resources, College of Bioresource Sciences, Nihon University 1866 Kameino, Fujisawa-shi, Kanagawa 252-0880, Japan
5Department of Aquatic Bioscience, Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, The University of Tokyo, 1-1-1 Yayoi, Bunkyo, Tokyo 113-8657, Japan
6UMR 7266 LIENSs, Littoral Environnement et Société, 2, rue Olympe de Gouges, 17000 La Rochelle, France
7EA 7316, Université de Rennes 1, 35042 Rennes Cedex, France
8Present address: UMR-CNRS 5805 EPOC, Environnements et Paléoenvironnements Océaniques et Continentaux, Université de Bordeaux, Station Marine d’Arcachon, 2 rue du Pr Jolyet, 33120 Arcachon cedex, France
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The feeding ecology of leptocephali has remained poorly understood because they apparently feed on particulate organic matter (POM), which varies in composition, and it is unclear which components of the POM they assimilate. The δ13C and δ15N stable isotope (SI) and fatty acid (FA) compositions of 3 families of leptocephali and POM were compared in 3 latitudinal current zones of the western South Pacific. The δ15N signatures of leptocephali and POM overlapped, with both having their lowest values in the southern current zone. POM in general (across all zones) contained 38 FAs and was rich in saturated FAs (SFA) (16:0, 18:0, 14:0), while leptocephali contained 50 FAs, with high proportions of 16:0, and higher contributions of 22:6ω3, 20:5ω3, 18:1ω9, 16:1ω7 and other FAs than found in the POM. Serrivomeridae leptocephali in the north had higher δ15N signatures and were also distinguished from Nemichthyidae and Muraenidae larvae by their FA compositions (higher SFAs, lower 22:6ω3 and 20:5ω3). Although SI signatures of the Serrivomeridae larvae did not clearly vary with size, 16:0 and 18:0 FA proportions decreased with increasing larval size, and 22:6ω3 and 16:1ω7 increased in larger larvae. Correspondences between the latitudinal variations in nitrogen SI signatures and FA compositions of POM with those of leptocephali and the presence of FA markers of both autotrophic and heterotrophic organisms were consistent with leptocephali feeding on POM. POM can contain various materials from primary producers and heterotrophic microorganisms, but differences in the SI signatures and FA compositions in leptocephali remain to be explained through further research.


KEY WORDS: Leptocephali · Fatty acids · Stable isotopes · Biomarkers · Trophic ecology · Oceanic currents


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Cite this article as: Liénart C, Feunteun E, Miller MJ, Aoyama J and others (2016) Geographic variation in stable isotopic and fatty acid composition of anguilliform leptocephali and particulate organic matter in the South Pacific. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 544:225-241. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11575

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