Stomach evacuation rate in the planktivorous Antarctic fish Pagothenia borchgrevinki
Specimens of the Antarctic fish Pagothenia borchgrevinki were collected from just below the sea-ice in McMurdo Sound over the period 5–16 November 1987. The stomach contents of 54 freshly captured fish were analysed and showed very strong similarities with an earlier, more extensive, dietary analysis conducted at the same location (Foster et al. 1987). There was as much variation in stomach contents from fish within a school, as there was between schools, contrary to the expectation that fish within a school would have shared a more common feeding history. Fish were maintained in holding tanks for up to 48 h after capture; groups were sacrificed at 6 h intervals and the stomach contents analysed to determine evacuation rates. Evacuation rates of total stomach contents and individual prey species were fitted with an exponential model of decay. The exponential time constant for decay of stomach contents was 32 h (Table 2), while time constants for individual prey species ranged from 12 h for small prey species to 49 h for the larger crustacea. The feeding rate of P. borchgrevinki on important prey species was calculated from the above data (Table 2). Low feeding rates, and the low numbers of P. borchgrevinki argue against removal by predation as being the explanation for the observed reduction in plankton numbers seen in shallow waters (Foster 1989).
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