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Among- and within-species variability in fatty acid signatures of marine fish and invertebrates on the Scotian Shelf, Georges Bank, and southern Gulf of St. Lawrence
Budge, S.M.; Iverson, S.J.; Bowen, W.D.; Ackman, R.G. (2002). Among- and within-species variability in fatty acid signatures of marine fish and invertebrates on the Scotian Shelf, Georges Bank, and southern Gulf of St. Lawrence. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 59(5): 886-898
In: Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences = Journal canadien des sciences halieutiques et aquatiques. National Research Council Canada: Ottawa. ISSN 0706-652X, more
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  • Budge, S.M.
  • Iverson, S.J.
  • Bowen, W.D.
  • Ackman, R.G.

Abstract
    The fat and fatty acid compositions of 28 species of fish and invertebrates (n = 954) from the Scotian Shelf, Georges Bank, and the Gulf of St. Lawrence were determined. Discriminant analysis of the 16 most numerous species (n ≥ 18 each), using 17 major fatty acids, classified species with greater than 98% accuracy and grouped species into three general clusters (gadids, flatfish, and planktivores) with similar fatty acid compositions, and likely, similar diets. A number of species exhibited changes in fatty acid signatures with increasing size (multivariate analysis of variance), which corresponded with known dietary shifts reported from stomach contents analyses. Location effects were also observed among the three major geographical regions and were probably due to broad-scale variations in prey assemblages and phytoplankton composition in the northwestern Atlantic. Despite these effects, within-species variation was still substantially less than among-species variation. Thus, fatty acid signatures can be used to distinguish and characterize fish and invertebrate species in a given ecosystem, as well as to study finer-scale trophic interactions of these species. These data also have applications at higher trophic levels and will serve as a prey database for studying the diets of other fish and marine mammal predators using fatty acid signatures.

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