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Stable Isotope Turnover and Half-Life in Animal Tissues: A Literature Synthesis

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Stable isotopes of carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur are used as ecological tracers for a variety of applications, such as studies of animal migrations, energy sources, and food web pathways. Yet

Stable isotopes of carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur are used as ecological tracers for a variety of applications, such as studies of animal migrations, energy sources, and food web pathways. Yet uncertainty relating to the time period integrated by isotopic measurement of animal tissues can confound the interpretation of isotopic data. There have been a large number of experimental isotopic diet shift studies aimed at quantifying animal tissue isotopic turnover rate λ (%·day[superscript -1], often expressed as isotopic half-life, ln(2)/λ, days). Yet no studies have evaluated or summarized the many individual half-life estimates in an effort to both seek broad-scale patterns and characterize the degree of variability. Here, we collect previously published half-life estimates, examine how half-life is related to body size, and test for tissue- and taxa-varying allometric relationships. Half-life generally increases with animal body mass, and is longer in muscle and blood compared to plasma and internal organs. Half-life was longest in ecotherms, followed by mammals, and finally birds. For ectotherms, different taxa-tissue combinations had similar allometric slopes that generally matched predictions of metabolic theory. Half-life for ectotherms can be approximated as: ln (half-life) = 0.22*ln (body mass) + group-specific intercept; n = 261, p<0.0001, r[superscript 2] = 0.63. For endothermic groups, relationships with body mass were weak and model slopes and intercepts were heterogeneous. While isotopic half-life can be approximated using simple allometric relationships for some taxa and tissue types, there is also a high degree of unexplained variation in our models. Our study highlights several strong and general patterns, though accurate prediction of isotopic half-life from readily available variables such as animal body mass remains elusive.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2015-01-30

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Climate impacts on landlocked sea lamprey: Implications for host-parasite interactions and invasive species management

Description

Altered thermal regimes under climate change may influence host-parasite interactions and invasive species, both potentially impacting valuable ecosystem services. There is considerable interest in how parasite life cycle rates, growth,

Altered thermal regimes under climate change may influence host-parasite interactions and invasive species, both potentially impacting valuable ecosystem services. There is considerable interest in how parasite life cycle rates, growth, and impacts on hosts will change under altered environmental temperatures. Likewise, transformed thermal regimes may reduce natural resistance and barriers preventing establishment of invasive species or alter the range and impacts of established exotic species. The Laurentian Great Lakes are some of the most invaded ecosystems and have been profoundly shaped by exotic species. Invasion by the parasitic sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) contributed to major declines in many Great Lakes fish populations. In Lake Superior, substantial progress has been made towards controlling invasive sea lamprey and rehabilitating native fish populations. Surface water temperatures in Lake Superior have been increasing rapidly since 1980 presenting a new challenge for management. Here we test how thermal changes in Lake Superior have impacted the feeding and growth of the parasitic sea lamprey. Sea lamprey have increased in size corresponding with longer durations of thermal habitat (i.e., longer growing seasons) for their preferred hosts. To compare regional differences in sea lamprey feeding and growth rates, we used a bioenergetics model with temperature estimates from a lake-wide hydrodynamic model hindcast from 1979–2006. Spatial differences in patterns of warming across the lake result in regionally different predictions for increases in sea lamprey feeding rates and size. These predictions were matched by data from adult sea lamprey spawning in streams draining into these different thermal regions. Larger sea lampreys will be more fecund and have increased feeding rates, thus increasing mortality among host fishes. Resource management should consider these climate driven regional impacts when allocating resources to sea lamprey control efforts. Under new and evolving thermal regimes, successful management systems may need to be restructured for changing phenology, growth, and shifts in host-parasite systems towards greater impacts on host populations.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2014-06-01