Marker technique for investigating gut throughput rates in coral reef fishes
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Artemia sp. shells were evaluated to determine their accuracy for tracing the passage of algal filaments through the gut of the damselfish Pomacentrus amboinensis Bleeker, 1868 (family Pomacentridae), an omnivorous coral reef fish. An automatic faeces-collection apparatus enabled the quantitative collection of markers and faeces in the laboratory. Defecation rates were similar for light and heavy doses of Artemia sp. shells and controls, indicating no detrimental effects of Artemia sp. shells on the gut throughput rate of P. amboinensis. In addition, similar rates and patterns of the passage of Artemia sp. shells and the algal markers Enteromorpha sp. and Lyngbya sp. indicated that Artemia sp. shells provide a reliable representation of the throughput rate of algal filaments. The mean throughput time of P. amboinensis was 4.6 h ±0.3 SE, with a modal recovery time of 4 h. Laboratory throughput estimates were validated by comparing the distribution patterns of Artemia sp. shells in the dissected gut of specimens administered markers in the laboratory and field. In addition, the retention of markers in the stomach of P. amboinensis suggested a likely site of prolonged processing.
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