Ecology of storage and allocation of resources: animals

Pond, Caroline M. (2011). Ecology of storage and allocation of resources: animals. eLS, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd..




Most organisms store lipids and/or carbohydrates for energy production during fasting. Lipids store much more energy per unit mass . Long-chain fatty acids are absorbed and stored almost unaltered, so serve as indicators of natural diets and food chains. Vertebrates and higher arthropods have tissues specialised for lipid storage and management. Adipocytes are 40-85% triacylglycerols and occur in various intra-abdominal and superficial sites in all tetrapods and some fish. Some mammalian adipose depots have site-specific properties specialised to local, paracrine interactions with adjacent cells and tissues. In mammals, adipocyte volume is determined by anatomical location, body size and natural diet as well as fatness. The anatomical patterns of relative sizes of adipocytes is are similar in all terrestrial mammals but species differ in the relative abundance of adipocytes in each depot. The chemical compositions of storage molecules are adapted to the ecological processes they serve, including migration, hibernation, lactation or unpredictable food supply. Adipose tissue can reach 50% body mass before migration or breeding fasts with superficial depots expanding most, especially in large vertebrates.

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