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Oecologia. 2006 Mar;147(3):391-5. Epub 2005 Oct 25.

Turnover rates of nitrogen stable isotopes in the salt marsh mummichog, Fundulus heteroclitus, following a laboratory diet switch.

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  • 1The Ecosystems Center, Marine Biological Laboratory, 7 MBL Street, Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA.


Nitrogen stable isotopes are frequently used in ecological studies to estimate trophic position and determine movement patterns. Knowledge of tissue-specific turnover and nitrogen discrimination for the study organisms is important for accurate interpretation of isotopic data. We measured delta15 N turnover in liver and muscle tissue in juvenile mummichogs, Fundulus heteroclitus, following a laboratory diet switch. Liver tissue turned over significantly faster than muscle tissue suggesting the potential for a multiple tissue stable isotope approach to study movement and trophic position over different time scales; metabolism contributed significantly to isotopic turnover for both liver and muscle. Nitrogen diet-tissue discrimination was estimated at between 0.0 and 1.2 per thousand for liver and -1.0 and 0.2 per thousand for muscle. This is the first experiment to demonstrate a significant variation in delta15 N turnover between liver and muscle tissues in a fish species.

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