Birds of Indian Subcontinent

Stable-Nitrogen Isotope Enrichment in Avian Tissues Due to Fasting and Nutritional Stress: Implications for Isotopic Analyses of Diet

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:1993
Authors:Hobson, KA, Alisauskas, RT, Clark, RG
Journal:The Condor
Date Published:1993
ISBN Number:00105422
Keywords:Anatidae, Anser, Anser rossi, Anser rossii, Chen, Chen rossii, Coturnix, Coturnix coturnix, Coturnix japonica, Phasianidae
Abstract:Studies using measurements of δ 15N to delineate diet or trophic level in natural ecosystems are based on the premise that δ 15N values in consumer tissues can be reliably correlated with those in the diet. However, juvenile Japanese Quail (Coturnix japonica) fed a rationed diet designed to maintain, but not increase, body mass showed significantly enriched tissue δ 15N values over a control group fed the same diet ad libitum. We tested the hypothesis that fasting or nutritional stress can also cause elevated δ 15N values in tissues of wild birds by examining tissues of Arctic-nesting female Ross' Geese (Chen rossii) before and after their period of fasting during egg laying and incubation. Significant declines in body, pectoral muscle, liver and abdominal fat mass occurred from arrival through incubation. Post-incubating geese showed significantly higher pectoral muscle and liver δ 15N values compared to geese taken before clutch initiation but δ 13C values in these tissues were unchanged. We hypothesize a mechanism of tissue δ 15N enrichment due to reduced nutrient intake and discuss the implications of these results to ecosystem studies using stable-nitrogen isotope analysis.
Short Title:The Condor
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith