Table of Contents
Diversity, Volume 11, Issue 1 (January 2019)
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Cover Story (view full-size image) When animals assimilate food into their own tissue, their stable isotope composition comes to [...] Read more. When animals assimilate food into their own tissue, their stable isotope composition comes to mirror that of their diet. As a result, sampling consumer tissue allows ecologists to understand resource use. However, there are multiple influences that can confound our interpretation of the isotopic composition of tissue. To resolve this problem, here we summarize the principles and early successes of compound-specific isotope analysis (CSIA), a novel approach in which isotopic composition is assessed for individual molecules, such as amino acids. The key principle is that some molecules are routed directly from the diet into animal tissue, whereas others are biochemically transformed during assimilation. CSIA substantially improves the precision of tracing nutrient and energy flow within and among organisms and ecosystems. View this paper.