University Of Tasmania

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Physiological response of adult Antarctic krill, Euphausia superba, to long-term starvation

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-18, 08:52 authored by Auerswald, L, Meyer, B, Teschke, M, Hagen, W, So KawaguchiSo Kawaguchi
Adult Euphausia superba survive winter without or with little feeding. It is not exactly known whether the scarcity of food or an internal clock, set by the natural Antarctic light regime, are responsible for non-feeding. Our research questions were therefore the following: (1) How will physiological and biochemical conditions of krill change during long-term starvation at constant light regime? (2) If and how do enzyme activities change during such starvation? (3) What is the influence of food availability versus that of light regime? To answer these questions, adult krill were starved under laboratory conditions for 12 weeks with constant light regime (12:12; dark/light) and the impact on physiological functions was studied. Initial experimental condition of krill resembled the condition of late spring krill in the field with fully active metabolism and low lipid reserves. Metabolic activity and activities of enzymes catabolising lipids decreased after the onset of starvation and remained low throughout, whereas lipid reserves declined and lipid composition changed. Mass and size of krill decreased while the inter-moult period increased. Depletion of storage- and structural metabolites occurred in the order of depot lipids and glycogen reserves after onset of starvation until proteins were almost exclusively used after 6–7 weeks of starvation. Results confirmed various proposed overwintering mechanisms such as metabolic slowdown, slow growth or shrinkage and use of lipid reserves. However, these changes were set in motion by food shortage only, i.e. without the trigger of a changing light regime.


Publication title

Polar Biology










Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies



Place of publication

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

Rights statement

Copyright 2015 Springer-Verlag

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Biodiversity in Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments