Feeding, metabolism and growth in the Antarctic limpet, Nacella concinna (Strebel 1908)
Post-prandial increases in metabolism, the specific dynamic action of feeding (SDA), were evaluated in the Antarctic limpet Nacella concinna. O2 consumption rose to a peak value 2.3 times higher than pre-feeding standard metabolic rates. This peak rise is low for marine ectotherms, but is typical of polar species. There were three peaks in the SDA, the first lasted only for the 1st day, was caused by handling, and was minor. The second was the major peak. It lasted from post-prandial days 4–9 inclusive, and accounted for around 70% of the SDA response. The third peak lasted from day 11 to day 15 and accounted for 30% of the total SDA. A 15-day SDA is much longer than values for temperate species, but is again typical for polar marine ectotherms. NH3 excretion declined post-prandially from around 0.4 μmol animal−1 h−1 to values between 0.025 and 0.223 μmol animal−1 h−1 throughout the SDA. The total O2 consumed in the SDA was 90.2 μmol O2, which converts to 44.7 J of energy. This was 45–50% of the energy consumed in the meal (93.5 J). Pre-feeding O:N ratios, after 26 days without food, were around 1, indicating protein as the sole metabolic substrate prior to initiating the SDA. After feeding, O:N ratios rose to between 2.5 and 19, indicating significant use of lipid or carbohydrate from the food. Experiments were conducted in ambient seawater with enhanced levels of Sr (SrCl added at 800 mg kg−1), and limpets were fed microalgal films also grown in enhanced Sr media. Sr incorporated in the shells during the experiment allowed the measurement of shell increments deposited during the SDA. Between five and eight microgrowth bands were present in the Sr-enhanced increments, which was similar to the number of days in the second SDA peak. The mean shell increment laid down was 17.6 μm. Estimating tissue deposition from measured growth increments and published ash-free dry mass (AFDM) to length relationships produced a value of 0.81 mg AFDM, which converted to 26.4 J of energy, or 25–30% of the energy ingested in the meal. Estimates of growth increments associated with a single SDA have not previously been possible. Overall energy used in the SDA and tissue deposition accounted for 75–80% of the energy ingested; the remainder was probably accounted for by unmeasured costs such as mucus production.