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Mar Environ Res. 2003 Sep;56(3):349-65.

Marine mammals from northeast Atlantic: relationship between their trophic status as determined by delta13C and delta15N measurements and their trace metal concentrations.

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  • 1MARE center, Laboratory for Oceanology, University of Liège, B6 Sart-Tilman, B-4000 Liège, Belgium.


The relationship between trophic position through delta13C and delta15N and trace metal concentrations (Zn, Cd, Cu and Hg) was investigated in the tissues of six marine mammal species from the Northeast Atlantic: striped dolphin Stenella coeruleoalba, common dolphin, Delphinus delphis, Atlantic white-sided dolphin Lagenorhynchus acutus, harbour porpoise Phocoena phocoena, white beaked-dolphin Lagenorhynchus albirostris, grey seal Halichoerus grypus stranded on French Channel and Irish coasts. White-beaked dolphins, harbour porpoises, white-sided dolphins, common and striped dolphins display the same relative and decreasing trophic position, as measured by delta15N values, along both the Irish and French channel coasts, reflecting conservative trophic habits between these two places. Hepatic and renal Cd concentrations were significantly correlated to muscle delta13C and delta15N values while Hg, Zn and Cu did not. These results suggest that Cd accumulation is partly linked to the diet while other factors such as age or body condition might explain Hg, Zn or Cu variability in marine mammals. Combined stable isotope and trace metal analyses appear to be useful tools for the study of marine mammal ecology.

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