Marine Biology

, 163:136 | Cite as

Selection and intake of algal species in butterfish (Odax pullus; Labridae)

  • Edward J. C. Baker
  • Marcus Clauss
  • Kendall D. Clements
Original paper


Whether animals increase or decrease food intake with decreasing diet quality, and how they respond to the offer of various diet items, is an active area of research. We tested specimens of the marine herbivorous butterfish (Odax pullus; Labridae) in a variety of no-choice, 2-choice and 4-choice experiments with various algal species. Algae differed in nitrogen and organic matter content as well as in apparent assimilation efficiency. Notably, nitrogen assimilation was related to organic matter assimilation at a slope lower than 1, suggesting an increasing contribution of microbial digestion in the more digestible diets. Food intake was lower, rather than higher, on the lowest quality algae, and higher on the highest quality algae, i.e. the fish did not follow a compensatory intake strategy, but a strategy described in mammals as ‘anticipatory’ where high-quality food is ingested in large amounts when available. Food intake was highest during 4-choice experiments, suggesting that mixing diet items, either to complement various nutrients or to avoid the accumulation of any particular toxin, is an important component of the nutritional strategy in O. pullus.


Alginic Acid Alga Species Mixed Diet Assimilation Efficiency Herbivorous Fish 
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 Philip Heath, Sarah Allen, Niel Barr, Kevin Green, Sheryl Miller, Graeme Moss, Johnathan Wright, NIWA staff at Mahanga Bay, for their support and provision of research facilities. Edward Baker was financially supported by the States of Jersey Education Department and the Bodset Trust of Jersey.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward J. C. Baker
    • 1
  • Marcus Clauss
    • 2
  • Kendall D. Clements
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  2. 2.Clinic for Zoo Animals, Exotic Pets and Wildlife, Vetsuisse FacultyUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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