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Keywords:

  • appetite;
  • growth;
  • growth efficiency;
  • lipid;
  • compensation

The compensatory growth responses of individual juveniles of two co- existing species were compared after identical periods of starvation to determine inter-specific similarities and differences. The carnivorous stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus was compared with the omnivorous minnow Phoxinus phoxinus. Both species experienced 1 or 2 weeks of starvation before being re-fed ad libitum. The two species differed in their response to the starvation periods, with minnows showing a lower weight-specific loss. Both species showed compensatory responses in appetite, growth and to a lesser extent, growth efficiency. Minnows wholly compensated for 1 and 2 weeks of starvation. At the end of the experiment, sticklebacks starved for 2 weeks were still showing a compensatory response and had not achieved full compensation. The compensatory responses of the sticklebacks showed a lag of a week before developing in the re-feeding phase, whereas the response of the minnows was immediate. Analysis of lipid and dry matter concentrations suggested that the compensatory response restored reserve lipids while also bringing the fish back to the growth trajectory of continuously fed fish.