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Non-lethal dorsal fin sampling for stable isotope analysis in seahorses
Valladares, S.; Planas, M. (2012). Non-lethal dorsal fin sampling for stable isotope analysis in seahorses. Aquat. Ecol. 46(3): 363-370.
In: Aquatic Ecology. Springer: Dordrecht; London; Boston. ISSN 1386-2588, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

    Diets; Sampling; Hippocampus guttulatus Cuvier, 1829 [WoRMS]; Marine
Author keywords
    Stable isotopes; Non-lethal sampling

Authors  Top 
  • Valladares, S.
  • Planas, M.

    Sampling collection for stable isotope analysis has traditionally involved the sacrifice of the animal. Seahorses (Hippocampus spp.) are listed as threatened by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species ( and consequently lethal sampling is undesirable. We evaluated the adequacy of dorsal fin tissue of adult seahorses Hippocampus guttulatus for stable isotope analysis as an alternative to lethal tissue sampling. Three seahorse tissues (dorsal fin, muscle, and liver) were analyzed for comparisons of δ15N and δ13C values. Similarities found between δ15N and δ13C values in dorsal fin and muscle tissue of H. guttulatus suggest that both tissues are adequate for stable isotope analysis to understand feeding ecology of seahorses. However, considering the threatened status of the species, dorsal fin tissue would be recommended in adult seahorses as a non-lethal sampling. The effect of lipid extraction on carbon and nitrogen stable isotope values was also evaluated in each seahorse tissues. Significant effects of lipids extraction did only occur for δ13C values in muscle and liver. It was found that lipid removal was not necessary to perform SIA in dorsal fin tissues. Due to the limited availability of fin tissue obtained from fin-clipping in seahorses, the relationship between the mass/surface of dorsal fin clip and stable isotope values was analyzed. δ15N and δ13C values in fin samples were found to be independent of the size of fin analyzed. According to our study, the use of fin-clipping sampling, with a minimum surface analyzed of 12.74 mm2, was found to be an adequate method for SIA in seahorses.

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