Lipid reserves of red mullet (Mullus barbatus) during pre-spawning in the northwestern Mediterranean

Lipid reserves are a particularly important attribute of fishes because they have a large influence on growth, reproduction and survival. This study analyses the lipid content of red mullet (Mullus barbatus) pre-spawners in three different areas of the northwestern Mediterranean in relation to trawling activities and river runoff. The muscle lipid was considered as an indicator of the somatic condition of individuals whilst the gonad lipid was used as a proxy of the energy invested in reproduction. The results show that fish with the highest muscle lipid levels inhabited the area where fishing impact was lowest. Since the abundance and biomass of polychaetes, which represent the main food source for red mullet, were found to be lower in trawled zones than in unfished ones, we suggest that differences in the muscle lipid levels between areas might be attributed to variation in prey abundance in relation to fishing impact. However, no impact of river runoff on lipid reserves of red mullet was observed. The results also show that muscle and gonad lipid reserves are not related to each other during pre-spawning ​
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