Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Salmon and other fish predators rely on 'no guts, no glory' survival tactic

Date:
September 15, 2011
Source:
University of Washington
Summary:
The phrase "no guts, no glory" doesn't just apply to athletes who are striving to excel. Fish predators take the adage literally, by having up to three times the "gut" capacity they need so they can "glory" when prey is abundant.

This is a gray snapper school in Florida waters.
Credit: Jonathan Armstrong

The phrase "no guts, no glory" doesn't just apply to athletes who are striving to excel. Salmon and other fish predators take the adage literally, by having up to three times the "gut" capacity they need on a daily basis just so they can "glory" when prey is abundant, University of Washington researchers have discovered.

Related Articles


It's a previously unrecognized survival tactic that might apply to other top predators, such as wolves, lions and bears, according to Jonathan Armstrong, a UW doctoral student in aquatic and fishery sciences and lead author of a letter published recently in the journal Nature.

"The predatory fish we examined have the guts to consume two- to three-times the amount of food that they regularly encounter. This much excess capacity suggests predator-prey encounters are far patchier -- or random -- than assumed in biology and that binge-feeding enables predators to survive despite regular periods of famine," Armstrong said. Co-author on the paper is Daniel Schindler, UW professor of aquatic and fishery sciences.

"Guts are really expensive organs in terms of metabolism," Armstrong said. For instance, maintaining a gut can require 30 to 40 percent of the blood pumped by an animal's heart.

Some animals have some capacity to grow or shrink their guts in response to changing conditions. For example, the digestive organs of birds that are about to migrate expand so they can eat more and fatten up. This is followed by a period when their guts atrophy and then, freed of the baggage of heavy guts, the birds take off.

That and results from lab studies led some scientists to assume that predators eliminate excess digestive capacity to save energy in times of famine. But the UW findings show that many fish species maintain a huge gut, which enables them to capitalize on unpredictable pulses of food.

"For predator fish, the world is a slot machine -- sometimes they stumble upon small meals and other times they hit the jackpot. It's just not as predictable as some have thought," Armstrong said.

"Unlike some other animals, fish can't just hoard their food behind a rock in the stream and eat it later. They need to binge during the good times so that they can grow and build energy reserves to survive the bad times."

Armstrong and Schindler hope that their results can help with ecological models used in conservation and management.

"Ecosystem models typically assume relatively constant interactions between predator and prey but our results suggest such interactions are extremely patchy. We're excited to see if including this ecological realism might improve the predictions of these models."

The work was funded by the UW School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, National Science Foundation and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Washington. The original article was written by Sandra Hines. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jonathan B. Armstrong, Daniel E. Schindler. Excess digestive capacity in predators reflects a life of feast and famine. Nature, 2011; 476 (7358): 84 DOI: 10.1038/nature10240

Cite This Page:

University of Washington. "Salmon and other fish predators rely on 'no guts, no glory' survival tactic." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110915141237.htm>.
University of Washington. (2011, September 15). Salmon and other fish predators rely on 'no guts, no glory' survival tactic. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110915141237.htm
University of Washington. "Salmon and other fish predators rely on 'no guts, no glory' survival tactic." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110915141237.htm (accessed November 1, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Watch Baby Goose Survive A 400-Foot Cliff Dive

Watch Baby Goose Survive A 400-Foot Cliff Dive

Buzz60 (Oct. 31, 2014) For its nature series Life Story, the BBC profiled the barnacle goose, whose chicks must make a daredevil 400-foot cliff dive from their nests to find food. Jen Markham has the astonishing video. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
World's Salamanders At Risk From Flesh-Eating Fungus

World's Salamanders At Risk From Flesh-Eating Fungus

Newsy (Oct. 31, 2014) The import of salamanders around the globe is thought to be contributing to the spread of a deadly fungus. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Alcoholic Drinks In The E.U. Could Get Calorie Labels

Alcoholic Drinks In The E.U. Could Get Calorie Labels

Newsy (Oct. 31, 2014) A health group in the United Kingdom has called for mandatory calorie labels on alcoholic beverages in the European Union. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Malaria Threat in Liberia as Fight Against Ebola Rages

Malaria Threat in Liberia as Fight Against Ebola Rages

AFP (Oct. 31, 2014) Focus on treating the Ebola epidemic in Liberia means that treatment for malaria, itself a killer, is hard to come by. MSF are now undertaking the mass distribution of antimalarials in Monrovia. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins