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Protein and energy digestibility and gonad development of the European sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus (Lamarck) fed algal and prepared diets during spring and fall

  • Author(s): Schlosser, Susan
  • et al.

Protein and energy are two of the main limiting factors for sea urchin growth. However, the requirement of daily protein and energy to maximize gonadal production is still unknown. Paracentrotus lividus were fed three experimental diets: Ulva lactuca, Gracilaria conferta and a prepared diet for 2 months in the fall of 1999 and spring of 2000. Sea urchins from a laboratory-cultured population of equal age, weight and test diameter were used. Apparent digestibility coefficients (ADC%) for protein and energy, using acid-insoluble ash as a marker, were measured for all experimental diets. Apparent digestibility coefficients for protein was high (>75%) for all diets. Energy digestibility varied among the diets and was lowest for G. conferta (50-62%). The three diets contained varying digestible protein (DP) to digestible energy (DE) ratios of 25, 26 and12 mg kJ-1 for U. lactuca, G. conferta and the prepared diet respectively. Digestible protein intake was similar for all treatments, but DE intake was greater for sea urchins fed the prepared diet in both seasons. As a result, the gonad production was significantly higher for urchins fed the prepared diet, suggesting that energy was limiting in the algal diets. Paracentrotus lividus spawned during the spring experiment, resulting in protein loss in all treatments. Protein loss was lowest in the sea urchins fed the prepared diet. Enhanced gonadal growth and gamete development of P. lividus resulted from the higher dietary energy content of the prepared diet.

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