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Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory


Gulf Menhaden, Brevoortia patronus, in the northern Gulf of Mexico support a large commercial fishery and are thought to play an important trophic role in the coastal ecosystem. The temporal dynamics of both fatty acid and oil content have a direct impact on the value of Gulf Menhaden to predators and to the fishery. In this work, we describe how oil content of Gulf Menhaden varies with season, sex, age, condition, and tissue and investigate how fatty acid composition of mature (137.5 mm FL) female tissues varies with season, month, and tissue type. We found pronounced temporal (January to October) variation in mean oil content ranging from 0.062 to 0.579 mg g−1 that exhibited a significant (p < 0.001) seasonal pattern. We observed significant differences in oil content between tissue (muscle vs. ovary) of mature females and these exhibited a significant seasonal contrast, indicating that females were provisioning eggs in the fall. PERMANOVA analysis indicated the existence of significant differences (p < 0.001) in the composition of fatty acids of muscle tissue collected in different months. Mean eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (LC-PUFA) levels exhibited significant seasonal differences (p < 0.05), and in the case of DHA and LC-PUFA, both exhibited mean tissue-specific differences (p < 0.05). This work indicates that the value of Gulf Menhaden as prey and a fishery resource in the region varies during the year and we propose that trophic models of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem should account for this variation.

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Regional Studies in Marine Science



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