A comparison of gut evacuation models for larval mackerel (Scomber scombrus) using serial photography
A novel technique is described, using serial photography of the gut contents of transparent living larval fishes, to generate individual gut evacuation time series. This technique was applied to Atlantic mackerel Scomber scombrus larvae to compare three widely used models of gut evacuation: linear, exponential and square-root. Regression r2 for the exponential model exceeded those for the linear and square root models in 20 of 21 time series, strongly supporting the exponential model. At the initial gut fullness for each time series, total gut evacuation rates calculated with the exponential model averaged 2·2 and 1·3 times greater than those calculated with the linear and square-root models, respectively, and would produce correspondingly higher estimates of feeding rates for field-collected larvae with similar levels of gut fullness. The results highlight the importance of choosing the appropriate evacuation model in feeding studies, particularly those intended to examine short-term changes in larval fish feeding rates, a contributing factor to the highly variable yearly recruitment of many marine fish species.
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