Special Issue "Stable Isotope Ecology"

A special issue of Diversity (ISSN 1424-2818). This special issue belongs to the section "Phylogeny and Evolution".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 October 2021.

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Keith A. Hobson
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Biology, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada
Interests: stable isotopes; diversity; migratory connectivity; conservation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Studies using measurements of naturally occurring stable isotopes of the light elements (C,N,H,O,S) in biota have revolutionized the way in which complex animal and plant communities have been examined. Applications have included descriptions of trophic relationships in foodwebs and the source of important nutrients driving communities. More recently, investigations of animal movements that rely on the derivation of isoscapes have provided new insights into migratory connectivity and the forensics of individual vs. population migration. The advent of new web-based analytical tools has now provided a rich research climate for stable isotope applications to investigating diversity. This Special Issue on Isotope Ecology will present a series of papers focused on community structure and ecology with an emphasis on biological diversity.

Prof. Dr. Keith A. Hobson
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • stable isotopes
  • foodwebs
  • community structure
  • diversity
  • migratory connectivity
  • conservation

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

Article
Experimental Evaluation of δ2H, δ13C and δ15N Variability in Blood and Feathers of Wild and Captive Birds: Implications for Interspecific Food Web Studies
Diversity 2021, 13(10), 495; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13100495 - 14 Oct 2021
Viewed by 268
Abstract
Stable-hydrogen (δ2H), nitrogen (δ15N), and carbon (δ13C) isotopes are used to decipher broad movement patterns and trophic relationships among diverse species, and an improved understanding of factors controlling natural variation in tissue-isotope measurements will [...] Read more.
Stable-hydrogen (δ2H), nitrogen (δ15N), and carbon (δ13C) isotopes are used to decipher broad movement patterns and trophic relationships among diverse species, and an improved understanding of factors controlling natural variation in tissue-isotope measurements will enhance these applications. To evaluate the rearing environment and family-related effects on the isotopic composition of tissues, we cross-fostered nestling tree swallows (Tachycineta bicolor, Vieillot 1808) and American kestrels (Falco sparverius, Linnaeus 1758) by swapping recently hatched birds (<4 days old) among nest boxes and collecting blood and feathers prior to fledging. To assess developmental effects, we measured δ2H in blood and feathers of captive mallard (Anas platyrhynchos, Linnaeus 1758) ducklings challenged energetically during growth. Stable isotope composition was not strongly related to nest box type or natal nest (i.e., family of origin) effects in swallows and kestrels; tissue-isotope composition was related to rearing environment, indicative of differences in nest and parental quality or parental provisioning tactics. Blood and feather δ2H values in swallows were positively related to antecedent maximum ambient temperature, and unrelated to elevated energy expenditure in mallards. The average differences between δ2H in blood and feathers were similar for nestling swallows (27‰, 32‰; two sites) and mallards (26‰, 30‰; two age groups), and lower than in nestling kestrels (50‰). Strong species-specific patterns in blood-feather differences were not observed for δ15N and δ13C in swallows or kestrels; divergent δ2H results may be related to differences in nest ambient conditions, diet composition, or physiological processes affecting hydrogen assimilation during growth and feather synthesis. In swallows, tissue-isotope values reflected parental prey selection from spatially distinct food webs during nestling development with little effect(s) of family of origin, egg composition, or early growth. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Stable Isotope Ecology)
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Article
Seasonal and Interspecific Variation in Frugivory by a Mixed Resident-Migrant Overwintering Songbird Community
Diversity 2021, 13(7), 314; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13070314 - 09 Jul 2021
Viewed by 595
Abstract
Many temperate passerine bird species switch from diets of mostly invertebrates in the spring and summer to diets that include fruit and seeds in the fall and winter. However, relatively few studies have quantified diet composition or the extent of seasonal shifts during [...] Read more.
Many temperate passerine bird species switch from diets of mostly invertebrates in the spring and summer to diets that include fruit and seeds in the fall and winter. However, relatively few studies have quantified diet composition or the extent of seasonal shifts during the non-breeding period, particularly among species and across communities with both residents and migrants. We measured carbon and nitrogen stable isotope values in food items (fruits, C3 and C4 seeds, and insects from various trophic levels and plant communities) and in multiple tissues (feathers and plasma/whole blood) from 11 species of songbirds wintering in the southeastern U.S. We combined these diet and tissue values with empirically derived discrimination factors and used concentration-dependent mixing models to quantify seasonal diet shifts. We also validated mixing model results with data from fecal samples. Diets in this bird community, as delineated N and C isotopic space, diverged in the fall and winter relative to the summer as consumption of fruits and seeds increased. Across this songbird community, estimated contributions of fruit to plasma/whole blood increased from 16.2 ± 7.5% in the fall (mean ± SD; range: 4–26%) to 21.7 ± 10.3% (range: 9–37%) in the winter, while contributions of seeds increased from 29.4 ± 2.6% (range: 28–32%) in the fall to 36.6 ± 4.8% (range: 32–42%) in the winter. Fecal data showed qualitatively similar trends to mixing models, but consistently estimated higher contributions of fruit. Our work indicates that fruits and seeds constitute substantial sources of sustenance for non-breeding songbirds, there is considerable separation of resource use among species in the fall and winter, and fecal estimates of contributions to songbird tissues should be interpreted cautiously. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Stable Isotope Ecology)
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Article
On the Use of Stable Hydrogen Isotope Measurements (δ2H) to Discern Trophic Level in Avian Terrestrial Food Webs
Diversity 2021, 13(5), 202; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13050202 - 12 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 707
Abstract
The measurement of stable hydrogen isotope ratios (δ2H) in animal tissues is a popular means of inferring spatial origins and migratory connections. However, the use of this isotope to infer diet and potentially trophic position remains poorly understood, especially in non-aquatic [...] Read more.
The measurement of stable hydrogen isotope ratios (δ2H) in animal tissues is a popular means of inferring spatial origins and migratory connections. However, the use of this isotope to infer diet and potentially trophic position remains poorly understood, especially in non-aquatic terrestrial ecosystems. In many animal communities, tissue δ15N values are strongly associated with trophic position. Correlations between tissue δ2H and δ15N are expected, then, if δ2H is affected by trophic enrichment of 2H. In addition, within sites, we would expect higher tissue δ2H values in insectivorous species compared to granivores or nectarivores. We tested these hypotheses for two resident avian communities in Nigeria consisting of 30 species representing a range of dietary guilds (granivores, frugivores, nectarivores, omnivores, insectivores) by comparing feather δ2H, δ15N and δ13C values. We found considerable isotopic overlap among all guilds except granivores, with no clear pattern of enrichment in 2H with trophic position. However, at one of our sites (open scrubland), feather δ2H was positively correlated with feather δ15N (R2 = 0.30) compared to a closed canopy forest site (R2 = 0.09). Our results indicate weak evidence for predictable trophic enrichment in 2H in terrestrial environments and indicate that controlled studies are now required to definitively elucidate the behavior of H isotopes in terrestrial food webs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Stable Isotope Ecology)
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Article
Isotopic Niche Segregation among Darwin’s Finches on Santa Cruz Island, Galápagos
Diversity 2021, 13(4), 147; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13040147 - 30 Mar 2021
Viewed by 1045
Abstract
Darwin’s finches are a classic example of adaptive radiation involving differential use of dietary resources among sympatric species. Here, we apply stable isotope (δ13C, δ15N, and δ2H) analyses of feathers to examine ecological segregation among eight Darwin’s [...] Read more.
Darwin’s finches are a classic example of adaptive radiation involving differential use of dietary resources among sympatric species. Here, we apply stable isotope (δ13C, δ15N, and δ2H) analyses of feathers to examine ecological segregation among eight Darwin’s finch species in Santa Cruz Island, Galápagos collected from live birds and museum specimens (1962–2019). We found that δ13C values were higher for the granivorous and herbivorous foraging guilds, and lower for the insectivorous finches. Values of δ15N were similar among foraging guilds but values of δ2H were higher for insectivores, followed by granivores, and lowest for herbivores. The herbivorous guild generally occupied the largest isotopic standard ellipse areas for all isotopic combinations and the insectivorous guild the smallest. Values of δ2H provided better trophic discrimination than those of δ15N possibly due to confounding influences of agricultural inputs of nitrogen. Segregation among guilds was enhanced by portraying guilds in three-dimensional isotope (δ13C, δ15N, and δ2H) space. Values of δ13C and δ15N were higher for feathers of museum specimens than for live birds. We provide evidence that Darwin’s finches on Santa Cruz Island tend to be generalists with overlapping isotopic niches and suggest that dietary overlap may also be more considerable than previously thought. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Stable Isotope Ecology)
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Article
Origins of Six Species of Butterflies Migrating through Northeastern Mexico: New Insights from Stable Isotope (δ2H) Analyses and a Call for Documenting Butterfly Migrations
Diversity 2021, 13(3), 102; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13030102 - 25 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 595
Abstract
Determining migratory connectivity within and among diverse taxa is crucial to their conservation. Insect migrations involve millions of individuals and are often spectacular. However, in general, virtually nothing is known about their structure. With anthropogenically induced global change, we risk losing most of [...] Read more.
Determining migratory connectivity within and among diverse taxa is crucial to their conservation. Insect migrations involve millions of individuals and are often spectacular. However, in general, virtually nothing is known about their structure. With anthropogenically induced global change, we risk losing most of these migrations before they are even described. We used stable hydrogen isotope (δ2H) measurements of wings of seven species of butterflies (Libytheana carinenta, Danaus gilippus, Phoebis sennae, Asterocampa leilia, Euptoieta claudia, Euptoieta hegesia, and Zerene cesonia) salvaged as roadkill when migrating in fall through a narrow bottleneck in northeast Mexico. These data were used to depict the probabilistic origins in North America of six species, excluding the largely local E. hegesia. We determined evidence for long-distance migration in four species (L. carinenta, E. claudia, D. glippus, Z. cesonia) and present evidence for panmixia (Z. cesonia), chain (Libytheana carinenta), and leapfrog (Danaus gilippus) migrations in three species. Our investigation underlines the utility of the stable isotope approach to quickly establish migratory origins and connectivity in butterflies and other insect taxa, especially if they can be sampled at migratory bottlenecks. We make the case for a concerted effort to atlas butterfly migrations using the stable isotope approach. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Stable Isotope Ecology)
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