AB 13:89-95 (2011)  -  doi:10.3354/ab00354

Influence of diet on stable carbon isotope composition in otoliths of juvenile red drum Sciaenops ocellatus

James Nelson1,*, Chad W. Hanson1, Christopher Koenig2, Jeff Chanton1

1Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida 32306, USA
2FSU Coastal and Marine Laboratory, 3618 Coastal Highway 98, St. Teresa, Florida 32358-2702, USA

ABSTRACT: Stable carbon isotope values of otoliths can provide long-term records of the environmental conditions experienced by fish. However, because otoliths contain carbon from metabolic sources, it is necessary to determine the proportion of metabolically derived carbon to properly interpret otolith δ13C values. To evaluate the relative influence of dietary carbon and the dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) of ambient seawater on the δ13C isotopic composition of fish otoliths, juvenile red drum Sciaenops ocellatus were raised for 6 and 9 mo in tanks with flow-through ambient seawater and fed diets differing by 2.1‰ (p < 0.001) in carbon isotope composition (δ13C). At the end of the experiment, muscle tissue from the 2 treatments reflected the isotopic composition of the diets and differed by 2.1‰ (p <0.001). Muscle tissue from both groups was enriched by 1.5‰ in 13C relative to the respective diets. The carbon isotope values of otoliths were enriched by ~16 to 17‰ relative to the respective diets, indicating that DIC was the dominant source (85 to 92%) for otolith carbon relative to carbon derived from diet. However, otoliths from the 2 treatments differed by 1.26‰ and expressed 60% of the difference in the isotope values of the diets. This result indicates that the nutritional characteristics of food may be a factor influencing the incorporation of metabolic carbon in the otolith. This is one of the first studies to provide evidence that the nutritional value of food influences otolith δ13C value.

KEY WORDS: Otoliths · Stable isotopes · Red drum · Sciaenops ocellatus

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Cite this article as: Nelson J, Hanson CW, Koenig C, Chanton J (2011) Influence of diet on stable carbon isotope composition in otoliths of juvenile red drum Sciaenops ocellatus. Aquat Biol 13:89-95

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