Prey diversity and prey stomach contents affect astaxanthin levels in piscivorous fish
(English)In: Limnology and Oceanography, ISSN 0024-3590Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
We analyzed astaxanthin concentrations and the composition of geometrical (E/Z) astaxanthin isomers in 631 tissue samples from the four chief fish species in the pelagic zone of the brackish Baltic Sea. Salmon and herring showed signs of astaxanthin deficiency, but cod and sprat did not. The isomers were distributed selectively in fish tissues, with highest proportions of all-E-astaxanthin in salmon gonads (71%) and lowest in herring gonads (19%). We discovered that the clupeids are no ideal prey for salmon and cod with respect to their high whole-body concentrations of astaxanthin Z-isomers, which have low bioavailability for salmon and cod. The salmon in the Baltic Sea is entirely dependent on herring and sprat for food intake while cod feeds on a more diverse diet, including crustaceans. This explains the normal low astaxanthin levels in the salmon in the Baltic Sea. Observed decreases in astaxanthin levels in the Baltic salmon during the last 50 years, which are related to a reproductional disturbance (M74 syndrome), can be explained by the here described poor quality of herring as astaxanthin source in combination with recorded changes in the feeding ecology of the Baltic salmon with less sprat and more herring in the diet today. Herring is inferior to sprat as astaxanthin source, especially in autumn when a salmon or cod obtains four times more bioavailable all-E-astaxanthin (by weight) from sprat than from herring. The Baltic herring is starving more than the sprat as a result of competition between the clupeids though fishing mortality and recruitment problems of the cod, their major predator during the last decades. Therefore, less crustacean astaxanthin (mainly all-E) is transferred directly to piscivorous fish from herring stomachs than from sprat stomachs.
Baltic Sea, cod, food web, herring, pelagic, regime shift, salmon, sprat
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-130142OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-130142DiVA: diva2:346645