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1 June 2015 THE NUTRIENT COMPOSITION OF THE DIET OF BOTTLENOSE DOLPHINS (TURSIOPS TRUNCATUS) IS BETTER ASSESSED RELATIVE TO METABOLIZABLE ENERGY THAN DRY MATTER
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Abstract

Nutrient concentrations in a diet can be expressed either “as fed,” relative to dry matter (DM), or relative to metabolizable energy (ME). Most published literature evaluates the diet of dolphins by comparing nutrient content relative to DM. Nevertheless, ME requirements, not DM, determine how much food dolphins need to maintain their body condition. The purpose of this paper is to illustrate why it is important to calculate the ME content of fish fed to dolphins and compare nutrient concentrations in dolphin diets relative to ME, not DM. Two studies that compared the nutrient composition of fish species on a DM basis were reevaluated. The ME content of each fish species was calculated and found to vary widely among species, from 0.94 to 1.58 Mcal/kg as fed. Water, mineral, and fat concentrations relative to ME also varied markedly among fish species. To demonstrate the magnitude of nutrient content differences between fish, the percent change in nutrient concentration for each species was calculated relative to herring. The percent changes for DM and ME analyses were then compared. Percent change in nutrient concentration was either over- or underestimated on a DM basis when compared with the percent change on an ME basis. Notable discrepancies were evident among important nutrients, such as crude protein, water, and sodium. Caretakers of managed dolphins must account for differences in energy density when deciding how much to feed and assessing the nutrient composition of the diet.

American Association of Zoo Veterinarians
Amanda J. Ardente and Richard C. Hill "THE NUTRIENT COMPOSITION OF THE DIET OF BOTTLENOSE DOLPHINS (TURSIOPS TRUNCATUS) IS BETTER ASSESSED RELATIVE TO METABOLIZABLE ENERGY THAN DRY MATTER," Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 46(2), 198-204, (1 June 2015). https://doi.org/10.1638/2014-0064R1.1
Received: 28 May 2014; Published: 1 June 2015
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