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Stable isotope analysis in two sympatric populations of bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus: evidence of resource partitioning?
Fernandez, R.; Garcia-Tiscar, S.; Begoña Santos, M.; López, A.; Martínez Cedeira, J.A.; Newton, J.; Pierce, G.J. (2011). Stable isotope analysis in two sympatric populations of bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus: evidence of resource partitioning? Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 158(5): 1043-1055. hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s00227-011-1629-3
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Fernandez, R.
  • Garcia-Tiscar, S.
  • Begoña Santos, M.
  • López, A.
  • Martínez Cedeira, J.A.
  • Newton, J.
  • Pierce, G.J.

Abstract
    Skin and muscle from 43 bottlenose dolphins (38 juveniles/adults, 5 calves) stranded in NW Spain were analysed to determine whether stable isotope ratios (d13C and d15N) could be used to assess dietary variation, habitat segregation and population substructure. Results were compared with published stomach contents data. Stable isotope ratios from 17 known prey species were also determined. Isotope ratios of the main prey (blue whiting, hake) varied significantly in relation to fish body size. Dolphin calves showed significant heavy isotope enrichments compared to adult females. Excluding calves, d15N decreased with increasing dolphin body size, probably related to an ontogenetic shift in diet towards species at lower trophic levels, e.g. on blue whiting as suggested by stomach content results. Bottlenose dolphins were divided into two putative populations (North, South) based on previous genetic studies, and values of d13C and d15N differed significantly between these two groups, confirming the existence of population structuring.

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