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Marine Biology

, Volume 151, Issue 5, pp 1773–1784 | Cite as

Diet induced differences in carbon isotope fractionation between sirenians and terrestrial ungulates

  • Mark T. Clementz
  • Paul L. Koch
  • Cathy A. Beck
Research Article

Abstract

Carbon isotope differences (Δ13C) 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 Δ13C 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 δ13C values among species for all tissue types were detected that separated species or populations foraging on freshwater plants or attached marine macroalgae (δ13C values < −6‰; Δ13Cbioapatite–diet ∼14‰) from those feeding on marine seagrasses (δ13C values > −4‰; Δ13Cbioapatite–diet ∼11‰). Likewise, Δ13Cbioapatite–collagen values for freshwater and algal-foraging species (∼7‰) were greater than those for seagrass-foraging species (∼5‰). Variation in Δ13C 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 Δ13Ctissue–diet values.

Keywords

Marine Mammal Stomach Content Analysis Harbor Porpoise Terrestrial Carnivore Marine Herbivore 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank the following people for providing tooth and bone material from sirenian and other marine mammal specimens: Donna Kwan and Helene Marsh from James Cook University, Queensland, Australia; Daryl Domning from Howard University, Washington, D.C.; Bruce MacFadden, Pennilynn Higgins, Candace McCaffrey and Laurie Wilkins from the Florida Museum of Natural History, Vertebrate Paleontology and Mammal Collections; Charley Potter and James Mead from the Smithsonian Natural History Museum Washington, D.C.; John Heyning and David Janiger, Los Angeles Co. Museum of Natural History; Doug Long, California Academy of Sciences; Amanda Toperoff and Robert Burton, Moss Landing Marine Laboratory; and the California Department of Fish and Game. We also thank James Estes, Terrie Williams, and Dan Costa for providing information on marine mammal foraging strategies and physiology. Financial support for this research was provided by NSF grant EAR 0087742 to PLK. Funding for MTC was provided by an NSF Predoctoral Fellowship and an Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Fellowship.

Supplementary material

227_2007_616_MOESM1_ESM.doc (54 kb)
Appendix 1. Mean bioapatite, collagen, and diet d13C values; mean D13C values between tissues and diet; and mean D13C values between tissues for all marine mammals analyzed. Within the latter, letters (A-D) following the means identify statistically distinct groupings (post-hoc Bonferroni test, p < 0.05). For diet category, SG = seagrass; MA = marine algae; FW = freshwater plants; TV = terrestrial/marsh vegetation; F = fish; MI = marine invertebrates (DOC 53.5 kb)
227_2007_616_MOESM2_ESM.doc (28 kb)
Appendix 2. Range (%) in total dietary fiber (TDF) content and fiber composition reported for various food plants of sirenians (Jung and Koong 1985a; Dawes 1986b; Nunez-Hernandez et al. 1991c; Applegate and Gray 1995d; Castro-Diez et al. 1997e; Chan et al. 1997f; Wenninger and Shipley 2000g; Nigam 2002h; Burtin 2003i; Fields et al. 2003j). For marine macroalgae, total dietary fiber includes polysaccharides other than cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin that are not present in vascular plants and are typically indigestible by the stomach and intestinal bacteria of most mammals (DOC 28.5 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark T. Clementz
    • 1
  • Paul L. Koch
    • 2
  • Cathy A. Beck
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Geology and Geophysics, Dept. 3006University of WyomingLaramieUSA
  2. 2.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of CaliforniaSanta CruzUSA
  3. 3.U.S. Geological SurveyFlorida Integrated Science Center, Sirenia ProjectGainesvilleUSA

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