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

Citation

Thoral, Elisa et al. (2021), Changes in foraging mode caused by a decline in prey size have major bioenergetic consequences for a small pelagic fish, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.xpnvx0kfp

Abstract

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.

Usage Notes

"Read me" for usage of Data_Changes in foraging mode.

Each sheet contains the data presented in each figure and table of the article.

All the mitochondrial measurements were performed at 20°C.
Missing values of the mitochondrial measurements at the fibre or at the muscle level (Figure 2; Table 2) have been retired when the measurement was more than 2 standard deviations higher than the group average, or when the oxygen consumption after the addition of cytochrome c was increased by 30% or more.
Missing values of the mitochondrial measurements at the mitochondrial level (Table 2) are due to omissions during the measurements.
In the tab "Figure 3", the missing values are due to omissions during the measurements.

Specific legends :
NA = missing values
Identity refers to the fish tag
LI = large items, SI = small items, LQ = large quantity, SQ = small quantity
BCI = Body condition index
ETS = electron transport system
ATP/O ratio = ratio between ATP production rate and oxygen consumption rate