Bioenergetic traits of three keystone marine species in the food web of a pristine Patagonian fjord

Paula A. Ruiz-Ruiz, Sergio Contreras, Eduardo Quiroga, Ángel Urzúa

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2 Scopus citations


The Patagonian fjords are high-latitude aquatic ecosystems, highly sensitive to climate change and play a key role in the exchange of organic matter and carbon flows between terrestrial and marine environments. The bioenergetic composition of species living in these ecosystems are fundamental to understanding the distribution, seasonal variations, and exchange of organic matter within benthic communities. This study reports on the bioenergetic characteristics (lipids, protein, glucose, and energy content) of three keystone species with different life-style and feeding habits: a benthic sea star (Ctenodiscus australis); squat lobster (Munida gregaria); and a Patagonian notothenioid (Eleginops maclovinus). Samples were obtained from the Yendegaia Fjord (54°40'S - 68°50′W) in Chilean Patagonia. Our results indicate that M. gregaria has higher concentrations of lipids, proteins, glucose, and total energy compared to either E. maclovinus or C. australis. The predominance of lipids in all species is possibly related to physiological characteristics and feeding strategies. Also, may be associated with the availability of food and environmental conditions typical of a fjord ecosystem and the reproductive stage in that they were collected. These results suggest that marine animals inhabiting glacially influenced environments with low temperature and low productivity, requires a convergent physiological strategy characterized by high levels of energy storage (i.e. lipids) for metabolism and key bioenergetic processes such as growth and reproduction.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101984
JournalJournal of Sea Research
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Biochemical composition
  • Energy
  • High-latitude aquatic ecosystems
  • Tierra del Fuego
  • Trophodynamic


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