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Assessment of gestation, lactation and fasting on stable isotope ratios in northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris)
Habran, S.; Debier, C.; Crocker, D.E.; Houser, D.S.; Lepoint, G.; Bouquegneau, J.M.; Das, K. (2010). Assessment of gestation, lactation and fasting on stable isotope ratios in northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris). Mar. Mamm. Sci. 26(4): 880-895.
In: Marine Mammal Science. Society for Marine Mammalogy: Lawrence. ISSN 0824-0469, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 
    VLIZ: Open Repository 280018 [ OMA ]

    Mirounga angustirostris Gill, 1866 [WoRMS]; Marine
Author keywords
    northern elephant seal; Mirounga angustirostris; stable isotopes;

Authors  Top 
  • Habran, S., more
  • Debier, C., more
  • Crocker, D.E.
  • Houser, D.S.

    P>Effects of physiological processes such as gestation, lactation and nutritional stress on stable isotope ratios remain poorly understood. To determine their impact, we investigated these processes in simultaneously fasting and lactating northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris). Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope values were measured in blood and milk of 10 mother-pup pairs on days 5 and 22 of lactation. As long- and short-term integrators of diet, blood cells and serum may reflect foraging data or energy reserves from late gestation and lactation, respectively. Limited changes in isotopic signatures of maternal blood over the lactating period were highlighted. Nitrogen isotope fractionation associated with mother-to-offspring transfer of nutrients was generated between mother and offspring during gestation and lactation. This fractionation was tissue and time-specific, it varied between early and late lactation from +0.6 parts per thousand to +1.3 parts per thousand in blood cells and from +1.1 parts per thousand to nonsignificant value in serum. Therefore, if pups appear to be good proxies to investigate the female trophic ecology especially for C sources, much more caution is required in using d15N values. Further studies are also needed to better define the relative impact of fasting and lactation on the enrichment or depletion of isotopes in different tissues.

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