MEPS 585:175-183 (2017)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12382

Identification and stable isotope analyses of flying fish scales from ornithogenic sediments at three islands in the South China Sea

Libin Wu1,2, Xiaodong Liu1,2,*, Pingqing Fu3, Liqiang Xu4, Xueying Wang1,2, Yao Sun5, Yeling Li1,2

1Institute of Polar Environment, School of Earth and Space Sciences, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, Anhui 230026, PR China
2Anhui Province Key Laboratory of Polar Environment and Global Change, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, Anhui 230026, PR China
3LAPC, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100029, PR China
4School of Resources and Environmental Engineering, Hefei University of Technology, Hefei, Anhui 230009, PR China
5Yellow Sea Fisheries Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences, Qingdao 266071, PR China
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Flying fish scales were recovered from ornithogenic sediments at 3 coral islands in Qilian Yu, Xisha Islands, South China Sea, and identified based on species-specific morphological structures. Stable isotope analyses indicated insignificant changes in the ratio of 13C to 12C (δ13C) and the ratio of 15N to 14N (δ15N) in scales dating from the period ~1000 to 1850 AD, reflecting the stability of avian community structures and feeding habits of tropical seabirds on Qilian Yu where they have consistently preyed on flying fish. Compared with data from modern flying fish samples, we found δ15N did not change, while δ13C declined by about 1.9‰ from historical times to the present, but this change can be associated with the Suess effect (decrease of atmospheric δ13C caused by fossil-fuel burning). A strong negative correlation was found between δ13C and δ15N in the historical flying fish scales, which was attributed to the natural spawning behavior of the fish, i.e. adult fish move to inshore areas to spawn; the weak positive correlation previously observed in modern samples is a result of larger sampling areas and possible human disturbances.


KEY WORDS: δ13C · δ15N · Spawning behavior · Historical data · Suess effect


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Cite this article as: Wu L, Liu X, Fu P, Xu L, Wang X, Sun Y, Li Y (2017) Identification and stable isotope analyses of flying fish scales from ornithogenic sediments at three islands in the South China Sea. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 585:175-183. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12382

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