A key issue in marine science is parameterizing trophic interactions in marine food webs, thereby developing an understanding of the importance of top-down and bottom-up controls on populations of key trophic players. This study validates the utility of fatty acid food web and trophic markers using C-13-labelled fatty acids to verify the conservative incorporation of fatty acid tracers by juvenile sandeel (Ammodytes tobianus) and assess their uptake, clearance, and metabolic turnover rates. Juvenile sandeel were fed for 16 days in the laboratory on a formulated diet enriched in (13)C16:0 followed by 14 days on a formulated diet enriched in (13)C18:3(n - 3). An exponential model was employed to estimate the uptake and clearance rates of recovered labelled fatty acids as a function of growth and fatty acid metabolism. The model predicted a faster uptake of (13)C18:3(n - 3) than (13)C16:0 (0.0353 and 0.0086.day(-1), respectively), consistent with a structural role of (n - 3) polyunsaturated fatty acids in cell membranes, whereas saturated fatty acids presumably play a larger metabolic role. Clearance and metabolic rates of assimilated (13)C16:0 were estimated as 0.0572 and 0.0211.day(-1), respectively. Lack of temporal trends in nonlabelled fatty acids confirmed the conservative incorporation of labelled fatty acids by the fish.
Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 2004, Vol 61, Issue 9, p. 1671-1680