Scientia Marina, Vol 71, No 2 (2007)

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

Josep Lloret
University of Girona, Faculty of Sciences, Dept. of Environmental Sciences, Girona , Spain

Montserrat Demestre
Institut de Ciències del Mar (CSIC), Barcelona , Spain

Josep Sánchez-Pardo
Institut de Ciències del Mar (CSIC), Barcelona , Spain


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.


ecological physiology; polychaetes; fishing; river runoff; maerl beds

Full Text:



Adams, S.M. – 1999. Ecological role of lipids in the health and success of fish populations. In: M.T. Arts and B.C. Wainman (eds.), Lipids in freshwater ecosystems, pp. 318-325. Springer- Verlag. New York,

Aguirre, H. – 2000. Aspectos biológicos y ecológicos del salmonete de fango Mullus barbatus L., 1758 y del salmonete de roca Mullus surmuletus L.,1758, del Mediterráneo Noroccidental. Ph. D. thesis, Univ. Politècnica de Catalunya.

Belk, M.C. – 1993. Growth and mortality of juvenile sunfishes (Lepomis sp.) under heavy predation. Ecol. Freshw. Fish., 2: 91-98. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0633.1993.tb00088.x

Bertrand, J., L. Gil de Sola, C. Papaconstantinou, G. Relini and A. Souplet. – 2002. The general specifications of the MEDITS surveys. Sci. Mar., 66S2: 9-17. BIOMAERL team. – 2003. Conservation and management of northeast Atlantic and Mediterranean maerl beds. Aquat. Conserv., 13: S65-S76

Bizsel, K.C. – 1987. Seasonal variations in the diel diet of the red mullets. (Mullus barbatus L.) in the northern Sicilian Basin. Msc. thesis, Institute of Marine Sciences, Middle East Technical University.

Bordehore, C., J.A. Borg, E. Lanfranco, A. Ramos-Esplá, M. Rizzo and P. Schembri. – 2000. Trawling as a major threat to Mediterranean maerl beds. Proceedings of the First Mediterranean Symposium on Marine Vegetation (Ajaccio, 3-4 October 2000): 105-109.

Carpentieri, P., F. Colloca, M. Cardinale, A. Belluscio and G.D. Ardizzone. – 2005. Feeding habits of European hake (Merluccius merluccius) in the central Mediterranean Sea. Fish. Bull., 103: 411-416.

Clemens B.J. and E.D. Stevens. – 2003. Buoyancy range, gas bladder volume, and lipid content of adult bloater, Coregonus hoyi Gill, in the Laurentian Great Lakes. Environ. Biol. Fish., 68: 175-182. doi:10.1023/B:EBFI.0000003848.91845.f8

Cunjak, R.A., 1988. Physiological consequences of overwintering in streams: the cost of acclimatization? Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci., 5: 3-452.

Demestre, M., M. Sobrana, F. Alvarez and P. Sánchez. – 1997. Analysis of the interaction of fishing gear in Mullus barbatus fisheries of the Western Mediterranean. J. App. Icthl., 13: 49-56. doi:10.1111/j.1439-0426.1997.tb00100.x

Demestre, M., P. Sánchez and M.J. Kaiser. – 2000a. The behavioural response of benthic scavengers to otter-trawling disturbance in the Mediterranean. In: M. Kaiser and S.J. De Groot (eds.), Effects of fishing on non-target species and habitats, pp. 121-129. Blackwell Science Publications. London, Demestre, M., P. Sánchez and P. Abelló. – 2000b. Demersal fish assemblages and habitat characteristics on the continental shelf and upper slope of the north-western Mediterranean. J. Mar. Biol. Ass. U.K., 80: 981-988.

Demestre, M. – 2006. Response of benthic communities and sediment to different regimes of fishing disturbance in European waters (RESPONSE). Final Report. Contract nr. Q5RS2002-00787.

Eleftheriou, A. – 2000. Marine Benthos Dynamics: Environmental and Fisheries Impacts. Introduction and Overview. ICES J. Mar. Sci., 57: 1299-1302. doi:10.1006/jmsc.2000.0929

Evans, K., M.A. Hindell and D. Thiele. – 2003. Body fat and condition in sperm whales, Physeter macrocephalus from southern Australian waters. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. A, 134: 847 –862 doi:10.1016/S1095-6433(03)00045-X

FishBase. – 2000. FishBase 2000 CD-ROM. Froese, R., Pauly, D. ICLARM. Manila.

Griffiths, D. and R.C. Kirkwood. – 1995. Seasonal variation in growth, mortality and fat stores of roach and perch in Lough Neagh, Northern Ireland. J. Fish Biol., 47: 537-554. doi:10.1006/jfbi.1995.0157

Hall-Spencer, J.M. and P.G. Moore. – 2000. Scallop dredging has profound, long-term impacts on maerl habitats. ICES J. Mar. Sci., 57: 1407-1415 doi:10.1006/jmsc.2000.0918

Hureau, J.C. – 1986. Mullidae. In: P.J.P. Whitehead, M.L. Bauchot, J.C. Hureau, J. Nielsen and E. Tortonese (eds.) Fishes of the northeastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean, pp. 877-882. UNESCO. Paris.

Kaiser, M., S.I. Rogers and J.R. Ellis. – 1999. Importance of benthic habitat complexity for demersal fish assemblages. In: R.L. Benaka (ed.). Essential fish habitat and rehabilitationProc Sea Grant Symposium Fish Habitat, pp. 212-223. American Fisheries Society. Bethesda, U.S.

Kaiser, M.J. and S.J. De Groot. – 2000. The effects of trawling on non-target species and habitats: biological, conservation and socio-economic issues. Blackwell Science. Oxford.

Labropoulou, M. and A. Eleftheriou. – 1997. The foraging ecology of two pairs of congeneric demersal fish species: importance of morphological characteristics in prey selection. J. Fish Biol., 50: 324-340. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8649.1997.tb01361.x

Lambert, Y., N.A. Yaragina, G. Kraus, G. Marteinsdottir and P.J. Wright. – 2003. Using Environmental and Biological Indices as Proxies for Egg and Larval Production of Marine Fish. J. Northw. Atl. Fish. Sci., 33: 115-159. doi:10.2960/J.v33.a7

Levi, F., M. Boutoute and P. Mayzaud. – 2005. Lipid Composition of Symphodus ocellatus (Perciforme: Labridae) in the North- Western Mediterranean: Influence of Two Different Biotopes. Mar. Biol., 146(4): 805-814.

Lloret, J., L. Gil de Sola, A. Souplet and R. Galzin. – 2002. Largescale habitat variability in condition of demersal fishery species in the north-western Mediterranean. ICES J. Mar. Sci., 59: 1215-1227 doi:10.1006/jmsc.2002.1294

Lloret, J. and S. Planes. – 2003. Condition, feeding and reproductive potential of white seabream (Diplodus sargus) as indicators of habitat quality and the effect of protection in the northwestern Mediterranean. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser., 248: 197-208. doi:10.3354/meps248197

Lloret, J., R. Galzin, L. Gil de Sola, A. Souplet and M. Demestre. – 2005. Habitat related differences in lipid reserves of some exploited fish species in the north-western Mediterranean continental shelf. J. Fish Biol., 67: 51-65. doi:10.1111/j.0022-1112.2005.00708.x

Lombarte, A., L. Recasens, M. González and L. Gil de Sola. – 2000. Spatial segregation of two species of Mullidae (Mullus surmuletus and M. barbatus) in relation to habitat. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser., 206: 239-249. doi:10.3354/meps206239

Machias, A. and M. Labropoulou. – 2002. Intra-specific variation in resource use by red mullet, Mullus barbatus. Est. Coast. Shelf Sci., 55: 565-578 doi:10.1006/ecss.2001.0924

Massé, H. – 2000. Long-term changes in sand-bottom macrofauna along the coast of Provence (northwest Mediterranean Sea). Ocean. Acta 23: 229-242. doi:10.1016/S0399-1784(00)00124-9

Massutí, E., O. Reñones, A. Carbonell and P. Oliver. – 1996. Demersal fish communities exploited on the continental shelf and slope off Majorca (Balearic Islands, NW Mediterranean). Vie Milieu, 46(1): 45-55.

Montagna, P.A. and W.B. Yoon. – 1991. The effect of freshwater inflow on meiofaunal consumption of sediment bacteria and microphytobenthos in San Antonio Bay, Texas. USA. Est. Coast. Shelf Sci., 33: 529-547 doi:10.1016/0272-7714(91)90039-E

Montagna, P.A. and R.D. Kalke. – 1992. The effect of freshwater inflow on meiofaunal and macrofaunal populations in the Guadalupe and Nueces estuaries, Texas. Estuaries, 15(3): 307-326. doi:10.2307/1352779

Morris, R.J. and F. Culkin. – 2000. Fish. In: R.G. Ackman (ed.). Marine biogenic lipids, fats and oils, pp. 67-89. CRC Press. Boca Raton.

Oskarsson, G.J., O.S. Kjesbu, and A. Slotte. – 2002. Predictions of realised fecundity and spawning time in Norwegian springspawning herring (Clupea harengus). J. Sea Res., 48: 59-79. doi:10.1016/S1385-1101(02)00135-1

Papaconstantinou, C. and H. Farrugio. – 2000. Fisheries in the Mediterranean. Medit. Mar. Sci., 1(1): 5-18

Pothoven, S.A., T. Nalepa, C.P. Madenjian, R.R. Rediske, P.J. Schneeberger and J.X. He. – 2006. Energy density of lake whitefish Coregonus clupeaformis in Lakes Huron and Michigan. Environ. Biol. Fish., 76: 151-158 doi:10.1007/s10641-006-9017-4

Relini, G., J. Bertrand and A. Zamboni. – 1999. Synthesis of the knowledge on bottom fishery resources in Central Mediterranean (Italy and Corsica). Biol. Mar. Medit., 6(suppl. 1): 276-299.

Salen-Picard, C., D. Bellan-Santini, G. Bellan, D. Arlhac and R. Marquet. – 1997. Changements à long terme dans une communauté benthique d’un golfe méditerranéen (golfe de Fos). Oceanol. Acta, 20: 299-310.

Sánchez, P., M. Demestre, M. Ramon and M.J. Kaiser. – 2000. The impact of otter trawling on mud communtites in the northwestern Mediterranean. ICES J. Mar. Sci., 57: 1352-1358. doi:10.1006/jmsc.2000.0928

Shahidi, F. – 2001. Extraction and Measurement of Total Lipids. Current Protocols in Food Analytical Chemistry D1.1.1-D1.1.11.

Shulman, G.E. and R.M. Love. – 1999. The biochemical ecology of marine fishes. In: A.J. Southward, P.A. Tayler, and C.M. Young (eds.), Advances in marine ecology, Vol 36. Academic Press. London.

Shulman, G.E., V.N. Nikolsky, T.V. Yuneva, G.S. Minyuk, V.Y. Shchepkin, M. Alla, A.M. Shchepkina, E.V. Ivleva, I.S. Dobrovolov, B. Ferit, B. and A.E. Kideys. – 2005. Fat content in Black Sea sprat as an indicator of fish food supply and ecosystem condition. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser., 293: 201-212 doi:10.3354/meps293201

Smith, C.J., C.J. Papadopoulou and S. Diliberto. – 2000. Impact of otter trawling on an eastern Mediterranean commercial trawl fishing ground. ICES J. Mar. Sci., 57: 1340-1351. doi:10.1006/jmsc.2000.0927

Sogard, S.M. and B.L. Olla. – 2000. Endurance of simulated winter conditions by age-0 walleye pollock: effects of body size, water temperature and energy stores. J. Fish Biol., 56: 1-21. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8649.2000.tb02083.x

Somarakis, S., Ch. Stamataki, A. Machias, N. Papadopoulou, C. Smith and K. Karakassis. – 2004. Condition and fecundity of red mullet over muddy and “coralligene” substrata. Rapp. Comm. Int. Mer Médit., 37, pp. 443.

Templado, A. and C. Calvo. – 2002. Flora y fauna de la reserva marítima de las Islas Columbretes. Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries of Spain.

Tserpes, G., F. Fiorentino, D. Levi, A. Cau, M. Murenu, A. Zamboni and C. Papaconstantinou. – 2002. Distribution of Mullus barbatus and M. surmuletus (Osteichtyes: Perciformes) in the Mediterranean continental shelf: implications for management. Sci. Mar., 66S2: 39-54.

Tornaritis, M., E. Peraki, M. Georgulli, A. Kafatos, G. Charalambakis, P. Divanack, M. Kentouri, S. Yiannopoulos, H. Frenaritou and R. Argyrides. – 1993. Fatty acid composition and total fat content of eight species of Mediterranean fish. Int. J. Food Sci. Nutr., 45: 135-139.

Wanless, S., M.P. Harris, P. Redman and J.R. Speakman. – 2005. Low energy values of fish as a probable cause of a major seabird breeding failure in the North Sea. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser., 294: 1-8. doi:10.3354/meps294001

Yoshida, H.O. – 1980. Synopsis of biological data on bonitos of the genus Sarda. NOAA Tech. Rep. NMFS Circ. 432. FAO Fishery Synopsis No. 118. 50 pp.

Copyright (c) 2007 Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Contact us

Technical support