Analysis of tissue composition in fish often requires dry samples. Time needed to dry fish decreases as temperature is increased, but additional volatile material may be lost. Effects of 10°C temperature increases on percentage dry mass (%DM) were tested against 60°C controls for groups of lake trout Salvelinus namaycush, rainbow smelt Osmerus mordax, slimy sculpin Cottus cognatus, and alewife Alosa pseudoharengus. Lake trout %DMs were lower at greater temperatures, but not significantly different from 60°C controls. Rainbow smelt and slimy sculpin %DMs were lower at greater temperatures and differences were significant when test temperatures reached 90°C. Significant differences were not found in tests using alewives because variability in %DM was high between fish. To avoid inter-fish variability, 30 alewives were each dried successively at 60, 70, 80, and then 90°C and for all fish %DM declined at each higher temperature. In general, %DMs were lower at greater temperatures and after reaching a stable dry weight, fish did not lose additional mass if temperature remained constant. Results indicate that caution should be used when comparing dry mass related indices from fish dried at different temperatures because %DM was negatively related to temperature. The differences in %DM observed with rising temperature could account for substantial portions of the variability in reported energy values for the species tested. Differences in %DM means for the 60 vs. 80°C and 60 vs. 90°C tests for rainbow smelt and alewife could represent of from 8 to 38% of observed annual energy cycles for Lakes Ontario and Michigan.
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