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Stable isotopes of captive cetaceans (killer whales and bottlenose dolphins)
Caut, S.; Laran, S.; Garcia-Hartmann, E.; Das, K. (2011). Stable isotopes of captive cetaceans (killer whales and bottlenose dolphins). J. Exp. Biol. 214(4): 538-545.
In: Journal of Experimental Biology. Cambridge University Press: London. ISSN 0022-0949; e-ISSN 1477-9145, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 
    VLIZ: Open Repository 292073 [ OMA ]

    Orcinus orca (Linnaeus, 1758) [WoRMS]; Tursiops truncatus (Montagu, 1821) [WoRMS]
Author keywords
    captivity; discrimination factor; nitrogen enrichment; Orcinus orca;turnover; Tursiops truncatus

Authors  Top 
  • Caut, S., more
  • Laran, S.
  • Garcia-Hartmann, E.
  • Das, K., more

    There is currently a great deal of interest in using stable isotope methods to investigate diet, trophic level and migration in wild cetaceans. In order to correctly interpret the results stemming from these methods, it is crucial to understand how diet isotopic values are reflected in consumer tissues. In this study, we investigated patterns of isotopic discrimination between diet and blood constituents of two species of cetaceans (killer whale, Orcinus orca, and bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops truncatus) fed controlled diets over 308 and 312 days, respectively. Diet discrimination factors (?; mean ± s.d.) for plasma were estimated to ?13C=2.3±0.6‰ and ?15N=1.8±0.3‰, respectively, for both species and to ?13C=2.7±0.3‰ and ?15N=0.5±0.1‰ for red blood cells. Delipidation did not have a significant effect on carbon and nitrogen isotopic values of blood constituents, confirming that cetacean blood does not serve as a reservoir of lipids. In contrast, carbon isotopic values were higher in delipidated samples of blubber, liver and muscle from killer whales. The potential for conflict between fisheries and cetaceans has heightened the need for trophic information about these taxa. These results provide the first published stable isotope incorporation data for cetaceans, which are essential if conclusions are to be drawn on issues concerning trophic structures, carbon sources and diet reconstruction.

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