Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Quantifying variation in δ13C and δ15N isotopes within and between feathers and individuals: is one sample enough?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Author(s)

W. James Grecian, Rona A. R. McGill, Richard A. Phillips, Peter G. Ryan, Robert W. Furness

School/Research organisations

Abstract

Studies of avian migration increasingly use stable isotope analysis to provide vital trophic and spatial markers. However, when interpreting differences in stable isotope values of feathers, many studies are forced to make assumptions about the timing of moult. A fundamental question remains about the consistency of these values within and between feathers from the same individual. In this study, we examine variation in carbon and nitrogen isotopes by sub-sampling feathers collected from the wings of adults of two small congeneric petrel species, the broad-billed Pachyptila vittata and Antarctic prion P. desolata. Broad-billed prion feather vane material was enriched in 15N compared to feather rachis material, but there was no detectable difference in δ13C. Comparison of multiple samples taken from Antarctic prion feathers indicated subtle difference in isotopes; rachis material was enriched in 13C compared to vane material, and there were differences along the length of the feather, with samples from the middle and tip of the feather depleted in 15N compared to those from the base. While the greatest proportion of model variance was explained by differences between feathers and individuals, the magnitude of these within-feather differences was up to 0.5 ‰ in δ15N and 0.8 ‰ in δ13C. We discuss the potential drivers of these differences, linking isotopic variation to individual-level dietary differences, movement patterns and temporal dietary shifts. A novel result is that within-feather differences in δ13C may be attributed to differences in keratin structure within feathers, suggesting further work is required to understand the role of different amino acids. Our results highlight the importance of multiple sampling regimes that consider both within- and between-feather variation in studies using stable isotopes.
Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)733-741
Number of pages9
JournalMarine Biology
Volume162
Issue number4
Early online date15 Feb 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Sex differences in migration and demography of a wide-ranging seabird, the northern gannet

    Deakin, Z., Hamer, K. C., Sherley, R. B., Bearhop, S., Bodey, T. W., Clark, B. L., Grecian, W. J., Gummery, M., Lane, J., Morgan, G., Morgan, L., Phillips, R. A., Wakefield, E. D. & Votier, S. C., 18 Jul 2019, In : Marine Ecology Progress Series. 622, p. 191-201 11 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Individual spatial consistency and dietary flexibility in the migratory behavior of northern gannets wintering in the Northeast Atlantic

    Grecian, W. J., Williams, H. J., Votier, S. C., Bearhop, S., Cleasby, I. R., Grémillet, D., Hamer, K. C., Le Nuz, M., Lescroël, A., Newton, J., Patrick, S. C., Phillips, R. A., Wakefield, E. D. & Bodey, T. W., 12 Jun 2019, In : Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. 7, 11 p., 214.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Important at-sea areas of colonial breeding marine predators on the southern Patagonian Shelf

    Baylis, A. M. M., Tierney, M., Orben, R. A., Warwick-Evans, V., Wakefield, E., Grecian, W. J., Trathan, P., Reisinger, R., Ratcliffe, N., Croxall, J., Campioni, L., Catry, P., Crofts, S., Boersma, P. D., Galimberti, F., Granadeiro, J., Handley, J., Hayes, S., Hedd, A., Masello, J. F. & 7 others, Montevecchi, W. A., Pütz, K., Quillfeldt, P., Rebstock, G. A., Sanvito, S., Staniland, I. J. & Brickle, P., 11 Jun 2019, In : Scientific Reports. 9, 13 p., 8517.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Marine protected areas show low overlap with projected distributions of seabird populations in Britain and Ireland

    Critchley, E. J., Grecian, W. J., Kane, A., Jessopp, M. J. & Quinn, J. L., Aug 2018, In : Biological Conservation. 224, p. 309-317 9 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  5. Understanding the ontogeny of foraging behaviour: insights from combining marine predator bio-logging with satellite-derived oceanography in hidden Markov models

    Grecian, W. J., Lane, J., Michelot, T., Wade, H. M. & Hamer, K. C., 6 Jun 2018, In : Journal of the Royal Society Interface. 15, 143, 9 p., 20180084.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Marine Biology (Journal)

    Nora Nell Hanson (Reviewer)
    Mar 2011

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

Related by journal

  1. Behavioural and temporal partitioning of dolphin social groups in the northern Adriatic Sea

    Genov, T., Centrih, T., Kotnjek, P. & Hace, A., Jan 2019, In : Marine Biology. 166, 1, 11 p., 166.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Icelandic herring-eating killer whales feed at night

    Gaëtan, R., Filatova, O. A., Samarra, F. I. P., Fedutin, I. D., Lammers, M. & Miller, P., Feb 2017, In : Marine Biology. 164, 2, 32.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Movements and site fidelity of killer whales (Orcinus orca) relative to seasonal and long-term shifts in herring (Clupea harengus) distribution

    Samarra, F. I. P., Tavares, S. B., Béesau, J., Deecke, V. B., Fennell, A., Miller, P. J. O., Pétursson, H., Sigurjónsson, J. & Víkingsson, G. A., 1 Aug 2017, In : Marine Biology. 164, 15 p., 159.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Marine life of the sea trout

    Thorstad, E. B., Todd, C. D., Uglem, I., Bjørn, P. A., Gargan, P. G., Vollset, K. W., Halttunen, E., Kålås, S., Berg, M. & Finstad, B., Mar 2016, In : Marine Biology. 163, 3, 19 p., 47.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  5. Reproductive strategies and energy sources fuelling reproductive growth in a protracted spawner

    Mendo, T., Semmens, J. M., Lyle, J. M., Tracey, S. R. & Moltschaniwskyj, N., 5 Jan 2016, In : Marine Biology. 163, 2.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 249954324

Top