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    Biological-physical processes regulate autumn prey availability of spiny icefish Chaenodraco wilsoni in the Bransfield Strait, Antarctic

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    Document Number:
    G.P. Zhu, Q.Y. Yang and K. Reid
    Submitted By:
    Professor Guoping Zhu (China)
    Approved By:
    Dr Xianyong Zhao (China)
    J. Fish Biol., 1–13 (2022), doi: 10.1111/jfb.15120

    This study examines the adaptability of a Southern Ocean predator, that is dependent on Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba), to potential changes in food availability. Muscle fatty acids of the spiny icefish Chaenodraco wilsoni were collected from three areas in the Bransfield Strait, northern Antarctic Peninsula during February–April 2016 give a good representation of their feeding variability. The compositions of 22:6n3 (DHA) and 20:5n3 (EPA) were both higher in the Transitional Zonal Water with Bellingshausen influence (TBW)-controlled C. wilsoni than in the Transitional Zonal Water with Weddell Sea influence (TWW)-controlled fish. This was positively correlated with photoadaptation and carbon sequestration in TBW-controlled phytoplankton. Results for the fatty acids 16:1n7, 16:0, DHA, and EPA indicate the presence of dinoflagellates in all three areas, suggesting that during late summer and early fall, there is a seasonal phytoplankton succession, where small phytoplankton become dominant, in the Bransfield Strait. In addition, the compositions of some long-chain fatty acids (> 20, such as 20:0, 20:1, 22:0, and 22:1n9) and ∑18 indicated that the food chain based on flagellates and copepods was more apparent in TWW-controlled C. wilsoni, especially the effect of El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) on the variation of prey communities in TWW-controlled areas. Fatty acid markers such as SFA/(PUFA+MUFA), ∑15+∑17, and ARA were more pronounced in TWW-controlled C. wilsoni, indicating a more strongly carnivorous and benthic food source. In the TBW-TWW confluence, the complex hydrological structure, including the presence of a large number of mesoscale eddies, allows rich nutrients and krill larvae to remain in it, providing a rich food source for the C. wilsoni. Overall, our fatty acid data show that the diet of C. wilsoni varies in different marine environments, aiding their survivability at the face of climate change.