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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 492:185-198 (2013)  -  DOI:

Diet- and tissue-specific incorporation of isotopes in the shark Scyliorhinus stellaris, a North Sea mesopredator

Stephane Caut1,*, Michael J. Jowers1, Loïc Michel2, Gilles Lepoint2, Aaron T. Fisk3

1Estación Biológica de Doñana, Consejo Superior de Investigationes Científicas (CSIC), Apdo. 1056, 41080 Sevilla, Spain
2Laboratoire d’Océanologie, MARE Centre, Université de Liège, Allée du 6 Août 13, 4000 Liège, Belgium
3Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research, University of Windsor, 401 Sunset Avenue, Ontario N9B 3P4, Canada

ABSTRACT: Elucidating predator-prey relationships is an important part of understanding and assessing the structure and function of ecosystems. Sharks are believed to play a significant role in marine ecosystems, although their specific trophic ecology is largely unexplored. Stable isotopes of nitrogen (δ15N) and carbon (δ13C) are a widely applied tool in food-web studies, but there is a need to quantify stable isotope dynamics in animals, particularly sharks. In this study, diet-tissue discrimination factors (DTDF = stable isotope in consumer tissue - stable isotope in diet) and turnover rates (time for the isotope to be assimilated into the consumer’s tissue) of stable isotopes were estimated in blood, fin, and muscle tissue for the shark species Scyliorhinus stellaris fed 2 diets with different isotope values. Subsequently, these diet- and tissue-specific DTDFs were used in isotopic mixing models to quantify the diet of Scyliorhinus canicula caught in the North Sea and were compared with stomach content data. DTDFs for δ15N (Δ15N) and δ13C (Δ13C) ranged from -1.95 to 3.49‰ and from 0.52 to 5.14‰, respectively, and varied with tissue and diet type. Isotope turnover rates in plasma and red blood cells, expressed as half-lives, ranged from 39 to 135 d. Most of the variability in DTDFs reported in this and other studies with sharks can be explained by linear relationships between DTDF and dietary isotopic values. From these relationships, we propose a method for isotope mixing models using diet-specific DTDFs, which improves diet reconstruction estimates for animals, particularly mesopredator sharks that consume a large range of prey types.

KEY WORDS: Diet · Discrimination factor · Fractionation · Large-spotted dogfish · Nitrogen enrichment · SIAR · Turnover

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Cite this article as: Caut S, Jowers MJ, Michel L, Lepoint G, Fisk AT (2013) Diet- and tissue-specific incorporation of isotopes in the shark Scyliorhinus stellaris, a North Sea mesopredator. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 492:185-198.

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