Effect of starvation on survival and biochemical profile of newborn juvenile lined seahorses, Hippocampus erectus (Perry, 1810)

Del Vecchio, G. - Otero-Ferrer, F. - Pascual, C., Rosas, C. - Simoes, N., - Mascaró, M.

This study assessed the effect of starvation on survival and nutritional status of newborn juveniles H. erectus (<10 days) to optimize rearing protocols, thereby helping to reduce wildlife exploitation.

 

Maximum starvation time (MST) was estimated through the survival of juveniles continuously starved from birth. Resistance to starvation and the effect of food re-introduction after 1, 2, 4 and 6 days of starvation on survival and metabolite concentrations (total proteins, total lipids, acylglycerides, cholesterol, glucose) were also determined. Survival amongst continuously starved animals decreased from 6.6 ± 0.5 to 0% from days 9 to 10 of starvation. Seahorses under different starvation-refeeding treatments all had 100% survival up to day 5 of experiments.

 

After 10 days, however, a 4-day starvation period followed by re- feeding showed negative effects with <50% survival. During continuous starvation, lipids were the first energy reserve used to maintain basal metabolism, followed by proteins. Except for cholesterol, all metabolite concentrations differed between continuous starvations and feeding. Despite high seahorse survival after 5 days in the absence of food, the recovery of the metabolic status is possible after a starvation period of no more than 2 days, since irreversible physiological changes compromising the ultimate survival of the organisms take place after this time.

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