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The Importance of Isotopic Turnover for Understanding Key Aspects of Animal Ecology and Nutrition

1
Department of Natural Resources Science, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881, USA
2
Institute of Environmental Sciences, Jagiellonian University, 30-387 Kraków, Poland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Diversity 2019, 11(5), 84; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11050084
Received: 23 April 2019 / Revised: 19 May 2019 / Accepted: 24 May 2019 / Published: 26 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Stable Isotopes in Ecological Research)
Stable isotope-based methods have proved to be immensely valuable for ecological studies ranging in focus from animal movements to species interactions and community structure. Nevertheless, the use of these methods is dependent on assumptions about the incorporation and turnover of isotopes within animal tissues, which are oftentimes not explicitly acknowledged and vetted. Thus, the purpose of this review is to provide an overview of the estimation of stable isotope turnover rates in animals, and to highlight the importance of these estimates for ecological studies in terrestrial, freshwater, and marine systems that may use a wide range of stable isotopes. Specifically, we discuss 1) the factors that contribute to variation in turnover among individuals and across species, which influences the use of stable isotopes for diet reconstructions, 2) the differences in turnover among tissues that underlie so-called ‘isotopic clocks’, which are used to estimate the timing of dietary shifts, and 3) the use of turnover rates to estimate nutritional requirements and reconstruct histories of nutritional stress from tissue isotope signatures. As we discuss these topics, we highlight recent works that have effectively used estimates of turnover to design and execute informative ecological studies. Our concluding remarks suggest several steps that will improve our understanding of isotopic turnover and support its integration into a wider range of ecological studies. View Full-Text
Keywords: turnover rate; stable isotope analysis; diet reconstruction; isotopic clock; nutritional status turnover rate; stable isotope analysis; diet reconstruction; isotopic clock; nutritional status
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Carter, W.A.; Bauchinger, U.; McWilliams, S.R. The Importance of Isotopic Turnover for Understanding Key Aspects of Animal Ecology and Nutrition. Diversity 2019, 11, 84.

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