Overcoming multi-year impacts of maternal isotope signatures using multi-tracers and fast turnover tissues in juvenile sharks

Yuri Niella*, Vincent Raoult, Troy Gaston, Victor M. Peddemors, Robert Harcourt, Amy F. Smoothey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Stable isotopes are often used to determine the ecological role of different age classes of animals, but particularly for young animals this approach may be compromised. During gestation and or incubation body tissues of the young are derived directly from the mother. In neonates or post hatching, there is a period of transformation as the young grow and forage independently, but during this period different organs will continue to reflect the maternal isotopic signature as a function of their turnover rate. How long this maternal hangover persists remains poorly understood. We applied a multi-tracer approach (δ15N, δ13C and δ34S) to stable isotope signatures in juvenile bull sharks (Carcharhinus leucas) up to 6.5 years post parturition. We found that maternal provisioning was detectable for up to 3.5 years after birth in muscle but only detectable in young-of-the-year for liver. Inclusion of sulphur revealed when maternal signatures disappeared from low-turnover tissue, while also identifying the spatial and trophic ecology patterns from fast-turnover tissue. These results reveal the importance of sampling fast turnover tissues to study the trophic ecology of juvenile elasmobranchs, and how the use of only δ15N and δ13C isotopes is likely to make maternal patterns more difficult to detect.

Original languageEnglish
Article number129393
Number of pages6
JournalChemosphere
Volume269
Early online date21 Dec 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

Keywords

  • Juvenile elasmobranch
  • Maternal signatures
  • Stable isotope analysis
  • Tissue turnover
  • Trophic ecology

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