Marine Biology

, Volume 157, Issue 1, pp 19–27 | Cite as

Fatty acid composition as a dietary indicator of the invasive caprellid, Caprella mutica (Crustacea: Amphipoda)

  • Elizabeth J. Cook
  • Richard Shucksmith
  • Heather Orr
  • Gail V. Ashton
  • Jørgen Berge
Original Paper


The invasive caprellid amphipod Caprella mutica is one of the most widely dispersed marine non-native species globally. Originating in sub-boreal north-east Asia, it has now been found in both the northern and the southern hemispheres. One potential reason why this species is such a successful invader is its ability to utilise a wide variety of food sources. The contribution of different food sources to the diet of C. mutica was estimated using fatty acids as biomarkers. Caprella mutica was collected from three field sites, including sea cages stocked with Atlantic salmon Salmo salar, shellfish longlines stocked with the blue mussel Mytilus edulis and mooring lines marking the Loch Linnhe Artificial Reef (>2 km from caged finfish aquaculture), where established populations of this species are known to occur. In addition, the fatty acid compositions of C. mutica held in aquaria and either fed the microalga, Dunaliella tertiolecta, or the diatom, Phaeodactylum tricornutum, for a period of 21 days were investigated. The fatty acid composition of the diatom and the microalgal diets was also examined. The results showed that C. mutica contained high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids, particularly 20:5(n-3); other dominant fatty acids included 18:1(n-9), 22:6(n-3) and 16:0 (in decreasing order based on abundance). Significant differences in the fatty acid profiles between caprellids fed on the microalgae and the diatom diets and between C. mutica collected from the field sites were observed. These results provide evidence that lipid biomarkers can be successfully used to provide evidence of feeding strategy for C. mutica and that the flexibility observed in this strategy may play an important role in its invasion success.


Fatty Acid Composition Calanoid Copepod Mooring Line Artificial Reef Phaeodactylum Tricornutum 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank the staff of the NERC Scientific Dive Facility with all their help. We also thank Karin Boos for her comments on the manuscript. This research was funded by the Esmée Fairbarin Foundation Marine Aliens Programme, Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) OCEANS 2025, the Scottish Funding Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the European Regional Development Fund, under the Addressing Research Capacity (in the Highlands and Islands) project.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth J. Cook
    • 1
  • Richard Shucksmith
    • 1
  • Heather Orr
    • 1
  • Gail V. Ashton
    • 2
  • Jørgen Berge
    • 3
  1. 1.Scottish Association for Marine Science, Dunstaffnage Marine LaboratoryOban, ArgyllUK
  2. 2.Smithsonian Environmental Research CentreTiburonUSA
  3. 3.UNIS, The University Centre in SvalbardLongyearbyenNorway

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