Title

Carbon and nitrogen stable isotope turnover rates and diet-tissue discrimination in Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris)

Authors

Authors

C. D. Alves-Stanley;G. A. J. Worthy

Comments

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Abbreviated Journal Title

J. Exp. Biol.

Keywords

turnover; stable isotope; Florida manatee; diet-tissue discrimination; (13)C; (15)N; Trichechus manatus; feeding ecology; FEEDING-HABITS; MIXING MODELS; BREATH CO2; FRACTIONATION; DELTA-C-13; ECOLOGY; RECONSTRUCTION; DELTA-N-15; MARINE; RATIOS; Biology

Abstract

The Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris) is a herbivorous marine mammal that occupies freshwater, estuarine and marine habitats. Despite being considered endangered, relatively little is known about its feeding ecology. The present study expands on previous work on manatee feeding ecology by providing critical baseline parameters for accurate isotopic data interpretation. Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios were examined over a period of more than 1 year in the epidermis of rescued Florida manatees that were transitioning from a diet of aquatic forage to terrestrial forage (lettuce). The mean half-life for (13)C turnover was 53 and 59 days for skin from manatees rescued from coastal and riverine regions, respectively. The mean half-life for (15)N turnover was 27 and 58 days, respectively. Because of these slow turnover rates, carbon and nitrogen stable isotope analysis in manatee epidermis is useful in summarizing average dietary intake over a long period of time rather than assessing recent diet. In addition to turnover rate, a diet-tissue discrimination value of 2.8% for (13)C was calculated for long-term captive manatees on a lettuce diet. Determining both turnover rate and diet-tissue discrimination is essential in order to accurately interpret stable isotope data.

Journal Title

Journal of Experimental Biology

Volume

212

Issue/Number

15

Publication Date

1-1-2009

Document Type

Article

Language

English

First Page

2349

Last Page

2355

WOS Identifier

WOS:000268136700015

ISSN

0022-0949

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