MEPS prepress abstract  -  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 Wu, Xiaodong Liu*, Pingqing Fu, Liqiang Xu, Xueying Wang, Yao Sun, Yeling Li

*Email: ycx@ustc.edu.cn

ABSTRACT: Flying fish scales were recovered from ornithogenic sediments at 3 coral islands from Qilian Yu, Xisha Islands, South China Sea, and identified based on species-specific morphological structures. Stable isotope analyses indicated insignificant changes in δ13C or 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 upon 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. A strong negative correlation between δ13C and δ15N in the historical flying fish scales is attributed to their natural spawning behavior, i.e. adult fish move to inshore areas to spawn, and differences observed in modern samples are a result of larger sampling areas and possible human disturbances.