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Assessing Avian Diets Using Stable Isotopes II: Factors Influencing Diet-Tissue Fractionation

Keith A. Hobson and Robert G. Clark
The Condor
Vol. 94, No. 1 (Feb., 1992), pp. 189-197
DOI: 10.2307/1368808
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1368808
Page Count: 9
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Assessing Avian Diets Using Stable Isotopes II: Factors Influencing Diet-Tissue Fractionation
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Abstract

Studies using stable-isotope analysis to infer diet require a knowledge of how stable-isotope ratios in consumer tissues are related to dietary values. We determined δ 13C and δ 15N diet-tissue fractionation factors for blood, liver, muscle, bone collagen and feathers of domestic chickens (Gallus gallus), Japanese Quail (Coturnix japonica) and Ring-billed Gulls (Larus delawarensis) and for blood and feather samples of adult Peregrine Falcons (Falco peregrinus) raised on known isotopic diets. In most cases tissues were enriched in δ 13C and δ 15N compared to diet. However, fractionation values differed among species, diets, and tissue types and this variation must be considered in isotope dietary studies. We found little evidence that isotopic fractionation factors are influenced by age in adult birds and provide fractionation factors appropriate for granivores feeding in a C-3 biome and for higher trophic-level piscivores and carnivores. American Crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos) raised on a perch diet grew faster and showed lower nitrogen diet-tissue fractionation values than crows raised on a plant-based diet. We suggest that nutritional stress caused substantial increases in diet-tissue fractionation values due either to: (1) mobilization and redeposition of proteins elsewhere in the body; or (2) amino acid composition changes in tissues.

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