The Arctic sea butterfly Limacina helicina: lipids and life strategy
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- Gannefors, C., Böer, M., Kattner, G. et al. Marine Biology (2005) 147: 169. doi:10.1007/s00227-004-1544-y
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The sea butterfly Limacina helicina was collected from May to September 2001 in Kongsfjorden, Spitsbergen, to investigate population structure and body and lipid composition with regard to life cycle and reproductive strategy. Veligers and juveniles were only found in late autumn and spring, whereas females occurred from July to September. The size of the females increased until mid-August and decreased in September. Dry and lipid mass were closely related to size; dry mass increased exponentially and lipids linearly with size. The lipid content was highest in veligers (31.5% of dry mass) and juveniles (23.6%) but low in females (<10%). Phospholipids were the dominating lipid class followed by triacylglycerols. Females, veligers, and egg ribbons, all from September, were richest in phospholipids. Juveniles contained the highest amounts of triacylglycerols, whereas females had low levels in July and the beginning of August. In mid-August, levels of triacylglycerols were variable and higher. This suggests that females were in their main spawning period and the high variability in triacylglycerols points to different stages within the spawning cycle. Enhanced amounts of free fatty acids in females from July may be related to gonad development. The 16:1(n-7) fatty acid was more dominant in spring whereas 18:4(n-3) increased in summer and autumn, which reflects a change in diet from diatom-dominated food items in spring to dinoflagellates in summer/autumn. Small amounts of long-chain monounsaturated fatty acids suggest ingestion of copepods, and the fatty acid composition of veligers feeding on particulate matter. L. helicina has a one-year life cycle with peak spawning in August and over-winters as veligers that may grow to juveniles during the winter period. They metamorphose into juveniles during spring, develop to males in early summer, and mature into females in July and August.