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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 607:129-142 (2018)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12775

Gut fluorescence technique to quantify pigment feeding in Downs herring larvae

Jérémy Denis1, Dorothée Vincent2, Elvire Antajan1, Carole Vallet2,3, Julie Mestre2, Valérie Lefebvre1, Josselin Caboche1, Rémy Cordier1, Paul Marchal1, Christophe Loots1,*

1IFREMER, French Research Institute of the Sea, English Channel and North Sea Fisheries Research Unit, 150 quai Gambetta, 62321 Boulogne-sur-Mer, France
2Univ. Littoral Côte d’Opale, UMR 8187 CNRS - LOG, Laboratoire d’Océanologie et de Géosciences, Univ. Lille, 32 avenue Foch, 62930 Wimereux, France
3Ecole Supérieure du Professorat et de l’Éducation - Lille Nord de France, Communauté d’Universités et d’Etablissements, 59658 Villeneuve d’Ascq, France
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The ingestion of chlorophyll pigments (chlorophyll a and phaeopigments) by Downs herring Clupea harengus larvae (8-13 mm) collected in the English Channel and the North Sea during winter 2014 (International Bottom Trawl Survey) was quantitatively estimated via gut fluorescence analysis, a method classically used for copepods. Our results confirmed the consumption of chlorophyll pigments either directly, or indirectly through the consumption of herbivorous copepods. Higher mean pigment ingestion rates were observed for small larvae (8-11 mm, 52 ± 51 [SD] ng chl a eq. ind.-1 d-1), whereas lower mean rates (43 ± 48 ng chl a eq. ind.-1 d-1) were measured in larger larvae (12-13 mm). This decrease in the rate of pigment ingestion coincided with an ontogenetic shift in prey preference that occurred at 12-13 mm. Chlorophyll pigment ingestion covered on average up to 18% of the daily metabolic needs of 8-13 mm herring larvae and thus constitutes a non-negligible part of the larval diet mainly during the first feeding stages. Direct ingestion of autotrophic protist prey primarily involved small larvae (8-11 mm, 73 ± 38 to 84 ± 34%), as it can synergistically increase digestion efficiency of other prey items (e.g. copepods). The gut fluorescence method applied to fish larvae provides a global estimate of total ingested pigments and a snapshot of their diets. As a fast and easy method, it should be deployed in future surveys to compare food intake (ingestion) in different areas, and to quantitatively assess the nutritional status of fish larvae in the field.


KEY WORDS: Clupea harengus · Gut content analyses · Fish larval feeding · Chlorophyll pigment ingestion · Copepod · Daily metabolic needs


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Cite this article as: Denis J, Vincent D, Antajan E, Vallet C and others (2018) Gut fluorescence technique to quantify pigment feeding in Downs herring larvae. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 607:129-142. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12775

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