MEPS 341:205-215 (2007)  -  doi:10.3354/meps341205

Changes in δ13C and δ15N in different tissues of juvenile sand goby Pomatoschistus minutus: a laboratory diet-switch experiment

J. Guelinckx1,*, J. Maes2, P. Van Den Driessche1, B. Geysen1, F. Dehairs3, F. Ollevier1

1Laboratory of Aquatic Ecology, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, C. Deberiotstraat, 3000 Leuven, Belgium
2VITO, Flemish Institute of Technological Research, Integrated Environmental Studies, Boeretang 200, 2400 Mol, Belgium
3Department of Analytical Chemistry, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussels, Belgium

ABSTRACT: Studies on diet or migration of organisms based on stable isotopes require precise estimates of how quickly stable isotope ratios change in the investigated tissues. Isotopic turnover rates in fish, however, are poorly understood. Prior to field applications of the stable isotope technique for investigating sand goby Pomatoschistus minutus migrations, a laboratory diet-switch experiment was conducted to (1) determine C and N isotopic turnover rates in sand goby muscle, liver and heart tissue, and (2) evaluate the relative contribution of growth and metabolic replacement to the total change in isotopic composition. Both time-based and growth-based models adequately described the carbon and nitrogen isotopic change in each tissue. The variation in isotopic turnover rates among the tissues and elements could be attributed to differences in metabolic activity. Muscle tissue had the slowest turnover rates, with half-lives of approximately 25 and 28 d for δ13C and δ15N, respectively. The shortest half-life value for δ15N was in liver tissue (3 d) and for δ13C in heart tissue (6 d). The rate of isotopic change in goby muscle tissue was mainly regulated by somatic growth, but metabolic replacement significantly accelerated the turnover rate for δ13C. In liver and heart tissue, basal metabolism contributed considerably to the isotopic shift. As a result, effects of short-term food deprivation were only found in liver and heart tissue. Although the observed trophic fractionation factors were within reported ranges, they were exceptionally large for δ13C in muscle and liver tissue.

KEY WORDS: Stable isotopes · Carbon · Nitrogen · Isotopic turnover rate · Metabolism · Fasting · Trophic enrichment · Gobiidae

Full text in pdf format