University Of Tasmania

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Direct determination of fatty acids in fish tissues: quantifying top predator trophic connections

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 07:32 authored by Parrish, CC, Peter NicholsPeter Nichols, Pethybridge, HR, Young, JW
Fatty acids are a valuable tool in ecological studies because of the large number of unique structures synthesized. They provide versatile signatures that are being increasingly employed to delineate the transfer of dietary material through marine and terrestrial food webs. The standard procedure for determining fatty acids generally involves lipid extraction followed by methanolysis to produce methyl esters for analysis by gas chromatography. By directly transmethylating ∼50 mg wet samples and adding an internal standard it was possible to greatly simplify the analytical methodology to enable rapid throughput of 20-40 fish tissue fatty acid analyses a day including instrumental analysis. This method was verified against the more traditional lipid methods using albacore tuna and great white shark muscle and liver samples, and it was shown to provide an estimate of sample dry mass, total lipid content, and a condition index. When large fatty acid data sets are generated in this way, multidimensional scaling, analysis of similarities, and similarity of percentages analysis can be used to define trophic connections among samples and to quantify them. These routines were used on albacore and skipjack tuna fatty acid data obtained by direct methylation coupled with literature values for krill. There were clear differences in fatty acid profiles among the species as well as spatial differences among albacore tuna sampled from different locations.


Publication title









Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies



Place of publication

175 Fifth Ave, New York, USA, Ny, 10010

Rights statement

Copyright 2014 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Aquaculture tuna