Marine ecology-progress series vol:341 pages:205-215
Studies on diet or migration of organisms based on stable isotopes require precise estimates of how quickly stable isotope ratios change in the investigated tissues. Isotopic turnover rates in fish, however, are poorly understood. Prior to field applications of the stable isotope technique for investigating sand goby Pomatoschistus minutus migrations, a laboratory diet-switch experiment was conducted to (1) determine C and N isotopic turnover rates in sand goby muscle, liver and heart tissue, and (2) evaluate the relative contribution of growth and metabolic replacement to the total change in isotopic composition. Both time-based and growth-based models adequately described the carbon and nitrogen isotopic change in each tissue. The variation in isotopic turnover rates among the tissues and elements could be attributed to differences in metabolic activity. Muscle tissue had the slowest turnover rates, with half-lives of approximately 25 and 28 d for delta C-13 and delta N-15, respectively. The shortest half-life value for delta N-15 was in liver tissue (3 d) and for delta C-13 in heart tissue (6 d). The rate of isotopic change in goby muscle tissue was mainly regulated by somatic growth, but metabolic replacement significantly accelerated the turnover rate for delta C-13. In liver and heart tissue, basal metabolism contributed considerably to the isotopic shift. As a result, effects of short.-term food deprivation were only found in liver and heart tissue. Although the observed trophic fractionation factors were within reported ranges, they were exceptionally large for delta C-13 in muscle and liver tissue.