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Lipids and fatty acids as indicators of egg condition, larval feeding and maternal effects in Cape hakes (Merluccius paradoxus and M. capensis)

Abstract

Cape hakes, Merluccius paradoxus and M. capensis, are important gadoid fish that are commercially harvested in the Benguela Current system off Namibia and South Africa. The aim of this study was to elucidate the nutritional condition and feeding preferences of their larvae. Hake eggs and larvae were sampled in austral spring of two consecutive years, 2007 and 2008, off the west coast of South Africa. They were identified to species using genetics, and total lipid content and fatty acid (FA) composition were analysed for each individual egg and larva to compare the condition of different early life stages of both hake species. Higher abundances of M. paradoxus eggs and larvae were consistently found compared to M. capensis. In both species, eggs contained wax esters (WE) and had significantly higher lipid content per dry mass than larvae. Lipid content as well as FA composition changed with the developmental stage of larvae. Quantities of essential fatty acid (EFA) increased with feeding of larvae due to dietary lipid incorporation. In 2007, yolk-sac larvae contained significantly lower total lipids than in 2008. It is argued that this was due to reduced lipid transfer by the spawning females to the eggs. These findings indicate that maternal effects are important in determining condition of hake larvae and that this may have an effect on their survival and subsequent recruitment.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank the captains and crew of RV Dr. Fridtjof Nansen and RV Ellen Khuzwayo, and scientists and technicians from the South African Departments of Environmental Affairs (DEA) and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and from the National Marine Information and Research Centre (NatMIRC) of Namibia for their support during the cruises. We are also grateful to Dr. S. von der Heyden (Univ. of Stellenbosch, South Africa) and Prof. M. Kochzius and the working group ‘Biotechnology and Molecular Genetics’, University of Bremen, headed by Prof. D. Blohm, for scientific and logistic assistance. Logistic and financial support was generously provided by the Nansen Programme, particularly Dr. T. Strømme, the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem Programme (BCLME), DEA and DAFF, the Norway-South Africa Fisheries Cooperation Agreement (NORSA) and the German National Academic Foundation (Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes). This paper formed part of a PhD thesis at the University of Bremen, Germany.

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Correspondence to Britta Grote.

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Grote, B., Hagen, W., Lipinski, M.R. et al. Lipids and fatty acids as indicators of egg condition, larval feeding and maternal effects in Cape hakes (Merluccius paradoxus and M. capensis). Mar Biol 158, 1005–1017 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00227-011-1626-6

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Keywords

  • Fatty Acid Composition
  • Total Fatty Acid
  • Fatty Alcohol
  • Total Lipid Content
  • Empty Stomach