Why are dwarf fish so small? An energetic analysis of polymorphism in lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis)

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Sympatric populations of dwarf lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) (DLW) and normal lake whitefish (NLW) commonly occur in north temperate and subarctic lakes. DLW have a much lower growth, mature earlier, and have a shorter life span than NLW. Furthermore, they are usually not found when cisco (Coregonus artedi) are present, possibly due to competitive exclusion. In this study, we compared the energy budget of DLW, NLW, and cisco using food consumption rates estimated with mass balance models of chemical tracers (i.e., mercury and radiocesium). These chemicals are globally distributed and can be readily detected in fish and their prey. Our analysis showed that the energy budget of DLW and cisco was similar. DLW and cisco consumed on average 40–50% more food than NLW. The conversion efficiency of DLW and cisco was two to three times lower than that of NLW. These results suggest that DLW and cisco allocated a larger fraction of their energy budget to metabolism than NLW. Our analysis also suggests that the earlier maturation and shorter life span of DLW and cisco may be due to their higher metabolic rates.

On retrouve fréquemment des populations sympatriques de corégones (Coregonus clupeaformis) nains (CNA) et normaux (CNO) dans les lacs tempérés et subarctiques. Les CNA ont une croissance plus faible, maturent plus rapidement et vivent moins longtemps que les CNO. De plus, on ne les retrouve habituellement pas en présence de ciscos (Coregonus artedi), possiblement due à la compétition. Dans cette étude, nous avons comparé le budget énergétique des CNA, des CNO et des ciscos à l'aide de taux de consommation estimés avec un bilan massique de traceurs chimiques (i.e., mercure et cesium radioactif). Ces éléments sont globalement distribués et peuvent être facilement détectés dans les poissons et leurs proies. Nos analyses indiquent que le budget énergétique des CNA et des ciscos était similaire. Les CNA et les ciscos consommaient en moyenne 40–50% plus de nourriture que les CNO. L'efficacité de croissance des CNA et des ciscos était deux à trois fois plus faible que celle des CNO. Ces résultats suggèrent que les CNA et les ciscos allouaient une plus grande proportion de leur budget énergétique au métabolisme que les CNO. Nos analyses suggèrent également que la maturation plus rapide et la courte longévité des CNA et des ciscos peuvent être arribuées à leurs demandes métaboliques plus élevées.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2001

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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