Capacity for growth compensation in juvenile three-spined sticklebacks experiencing cycles of food deprivation

Robert J. Wootton, Muhammad Ali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (SciVal)


The capacity of three-spined sticklebacks Gasterosteus aculeatus (initial mean mass 0.280 g) to compensate for recurrent periods of food deprivation of 2, 4 or 6 days followed by 2 days of ad libitum feeding on enchytraeid worms over 56 days was assessed by measuring appetite and growth. Control fish were fed daily. The total number of days on which fish were fed ranged from 14 (6-day cycle) to 56 (controls). Deprived sticklebacks were hyperphagic on the first day of re-feeding in a cycle and this hyperphagia increased with successive cycles. Mean daily consumption on first day of refeeding was: controls, 62.9 mg; 2 days, 108 mg; 4 days, 98.8 mg; 6 days, 101 mg. The hyperphagia did not increase as the preceding period of deprivation within a cycle increased. Hyperphagia was not maintained on the second day of re-feeding. The 4 day and 6 day groups initially showed hypophagia on the second day of re-feeding. Mean daily consumption on second day of re-feeding was: controls, 62.6 mg; 2 days, 62.2 mg; 4 days, 54.2 mg; 6 days, 50.0 mg. Over the experiment, consumption on the second day of the 4 day and 6-day groups increased towards the control level, suggesting a developing compensatory response. The highest mean daily consumption per days fed was shown by the 2 day group. The relationship between number of days fed and total food consumption and specific growth rate suggested that the 2 day group almost compensated for the periods of deprivation. Performance declined for the 4 day and 6 day groups, although even at the highest level of deprivation, a positive growth was achieved. Mean specific growth rate in mass (% per day) was: controls, 2.33; 2 days, 1.89; 4 days, 1.21; 6 days, 0.86. Initial mass and total food consumption accounted for most of the variance in specific growth rate. Other indices of performance including lipid concentration, dry matter concentration and the RNA:DNA ratio in white muscle were positively related to quantity of food consumed by each group. Growth efficiency of sticklebacks in terms of wet mass gained and wet mass consumed over the experimental period was 19.4% and did not differ among control and treatment groups. The growth rates of the sticklebacks experiencing cyclical deprivation were comparable to growth rates previously recorded for sticklebacks fed daily, but consuming similar mean daily rations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1531-1544
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Fish Biology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2001


Dive into the research topics of 'Capacity for growth compensation in juvenile three-spined sticklebacks experiencing cycles of food deprivation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this