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Diet induced differences in carbon isotope fractionation between sirenians and terrestrial ungulates
Clementz, M.T.; Koch, P.L.; Beck, C.A. (2007). Diet induced differences in carbon isotope fractionation between sirenians and terrestrial ungulates. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 151(5): 1773-1784.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Clementz, M.T.
  • Koch, P.L.
  • Beck, C.A.

    Carbon isotope differences (?13C) between bioapatite and diet, collagen and diet, and bioapatite and collagen were calculated for four species of sirenians, Dugong dugon (Müller), Trichechus manatus (Linnaeus), Trichechus inunguis (Natterer), and the extinct Hydrodamalis gigas (Zimmerman). Bone and tooth samples were taken from archived materials collected from populations during the mid eighteenth century (H. gigas), between 1978 and 1984 (T. manatus, T. inunguis), and between 1997 and 1999 (D. dugon). Mean ?13C values were compared with those for terrestrial ungulates, carnivores, and six species of carnivorous marine mammals (cetaceans = 1; pinnipeds = 4; mustelids = 1). Significant differences in mean d13C values among species for all tissue types were detected that separated species or populations foraging on freshwater plants or attached marine macroalgae (d13C values < -6‰; ?13Cbioapatite–diet ~14‰) from those feeding on marine seagrasses (d13C values > -4‰; ?13Cbioapatite–diet ~11‰). Likewise, ?13Cbioapatite–collagen values for freshwater and algal-foraging species (~7‰) were greater than those for seagrass-foraging species (~5‰). Variation in ?13C values calculated between tissues and between tissues and diet among species may relate to the nutritional composition of a species’ diet and the extent and type of microbial fermentation that occurs during digestion of different types of plants. These results highlight the complications that can arise when making dietary interpretations without having first determined species-specific ?13Ctissue–diet values.

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