Maternal meddling in neonatal sharks: implications for interpreting stable isotopes in young animals

Olin, Jill A., Hussey, Nigel E., Fritts, Mark, Heupel, Michelle R., Simpfendorfer, Colin A., Poulakis, Gregg R., and Fisk, Aaron T. (2011) Maternal meddling in neonatal sharks: implications for interpreting stable isotopes in young animals. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, 25 (8). pp. 1008-1016.

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Stable isotopes of neonatal vertebrates reflect those of their mother's diet and foraging location. Evaluating feeding strategies and habitat use of neonates is consequently complicated by the maternal isotopic signal and its subsequent elimination with growth. Thus, methods that measure the loss of the maternal signal, i.e. when the isotopic signal of a neonate reflects its own diet, are needed. Values of δ13C and δ15N were measured in liver and muscle tissues of <1 year old bull (Carcharhinus leucas) and Atlantic sharpnose (Rhizoprionodon terraenovae) sharks and related to age using, total length, date sampled and umbilical scar stage (USS). We observed a decline in δ13C and δ15N values with age that was different among species, similar among isotopes, and greater in liver than in muscle; highlighting that retention of the maternal signal is dependent on species-specific life history and tissue characteristics. USS was most effective for assessing the loss of the maternal isotopic signal in the faster growing Atlantic sharpnose shark, but was less effective for the slower growing bull shark. Total length and date sampled were overall less effective and may be more informative for slower growing species when coupled with USS, as variable size at birth and misclassification of animals >1 year old, which remain in nursery habitats, increase the variability of the isotopic values. Consideration of the maternal signal and measuring its loss are thus necessary when analyzing the stable isotopes of young animals, as there is potential to misinterpret feeding strategies, over-estimate trophic position and incorrectly assign carbon source.

Item ID: 18963
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1097-0231
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2011 07:01
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 83 ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND ANIMAL PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8302 Fisheries - Wild Caught > 830204 Wild Caught Fin Fish (excl. Tuna) @ 100%
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