FCE LTER Journal Articles


Stable isotopes are important tools for understanding the trophic roles of elasmobranchs. However, whether different tissues provide consistent stable isotope values within an individual are largely unknown. To address this, the relationships among carbon and nitrogen isotope values were quantified for blood, muscle, and fin from juvenile bull sharks (Carcharhinus leucas) and blood and fin from large tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier) collected in two different ecosystems. We also investigated the relationship between shark size and the magnitude of differences in isotopic values between tissues. Isotope values were significantly positively correlated for all paired tissue comparisons, but R2 values were much higher for δ13C than for δ15N. Paired differences between isotopic values of tissues were relatively small but varied significantly with shark total length, suggesting that shark size can be an important factor influencing the magnitude of differences in isotope values of different tissues. For studies of juvenile sharks, care should be taken in using slow turnover tissues like muscle and fin, because they may retain a maternal signature for an extended time. Although correlations were relatively strong, results suggest that correction factors should be generated for the desired study species and may only allow coarse-scale comparisons between studies using different tissue types.


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The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at http://dx.doi.org/10.1139/F10-037

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation through the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research program under Cooperative Agreements #DBI-0620409 and #DEB-9910514. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.