Access

You are not currently logged in.

Access your personal account or get JSTOR access through your library or other institution:

login

Log in to your personal account or through your institution.

If you need an accessible version of this item please contact JSTOR User Support

Slow Isotope Turnover Rates and Low Discrimination Values in the American Alligator: Implications for Interpretation of Ectotherm Stable Isotope Data

Adam E. Rosenblatt and Michael R. Heithaus
Physiological and Biochemical Zoology: Ecological and Evolutionary Approaches
Vol. 86, No. 1 (January/February 2013), pp. 137-148
DOI: 10.1086/668295
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/668295
Page Count: 12
  • More info
  • Cite this Item
If you need an accessible version of this item please contact JSTOR User Support
Slow Isotope Turnover Rates and Low Discrimination Values in the American Alligator: Implications for Interpretation of Ectotherm Stable Isotope Data
Preview not available

Abstract

AbstractStable isotope analysis has become a standard ecological tool for elucidating feeding relationships of organisms and determining food web structure and connectivity. There remain important questions concerning rates at which stable isotope values are incorporated into tissues (turnover rates) and the change in isotope value between a tissue and a food source (discrimination values). These gaps in our understanding necessitate experimental studies to adequately interpret field data. Tissue turnover rates and discrimination values vary among species and have been investigated in a broad array of taxa. However, little attention has been paid to ectothermic top predators in this regard. We quantified the turnover rates and discrimination values for three tissues (scutes, red blood cells, and plasma) in American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis). Plasma turned over faster than scutes or red blood cells, but turnover rates of all three tissues were very slow in comparison to those in endothermic species. Alligator δ15N discrimination values were surprisingly low in comparison to those of other top predators and varied between experimental and control alligators. The variability of δ15N discrimination values highlights the difficulties in using δ15N to assign absolute and possibly even relative trophic levels in field studies. Our results suggest that interpreting stable isotope data based on parameter estimates from other species can be problematic and that large ectothermic tetrapod tissues may be characterized by unique stable isotope dynamics relative to species occupying lower trophic levels and endothermic tetrapods.

Page Thumbnails

  • Thumbnail: Page 
1
    1
  • Thumbnail: Page 
2
    2
  • Thumbnail: Page 
3
    3
  • Thumbnail: Page 
4
    4
  • Thumbnail: Page 
5
    5
  • Thumbnail: Page 
6
    6
  • Thumbnail: Page 
7
    7
  • Thumbnail: Page 
8
    8
  • Thumbnail: Page 
9
    9
  • Thumbnail: Page 
10
    10
  • Thumbnail: Page 
11
    11
  • Thumbnail: Page 
12
    12