Marine Biology

, 166:101 | Cite as

Dietary ontogeny of the blue shark, Prionace glauca, based on the analysis of δ13C and δ15N in vertebrae

  • Colombo Estupiñán-Montaño
  • Felipe Galván-MagañaEmail author
  • Alberto Sánchez-González
  • Fernando R. Elorriaga-Verplancken
  • Antonio Delgado-Huertas
  • Diego Páez-Rosas
Original Paper


Ontogenetic changes in habitat and food preferences are common in nature; they reflect changes in the needs of organisms during their lifetime. Studying the dietary ontogeny of pelagic species is a difficult task, because of migratory processes and the inaccessibility of their habitats. As a result, their life history remains poorly understood, or even unknown. Here, we studied the dietary ontogeny of 18 blue sharks, Prionace glauca, using isotopic analysis in vertebrae. A total of 132 samples of vertebral collagen were taken (64 from males and 68 from females). The wide range of δ13C values (− 16.8 to − 13.1‰) suggests that these sharks use both coastal and oceanic areas for feeding. Small juveniles and adults preferred coastal areas, while medium-sized and large juveniles preferred oceanic areas. The estimated δ15N values (9.5–19.0‰) suggest that P. glauca is a top predator that occupies various trophic levels and/or it feeds across areas with different baseline δ15N (trophic position 3.9–8.4). Isotopic enrichment and differences in δ13C and δ15N thus suggest ontogenetic changes in habitat use and prey consumption between maturity stages. The use of hard anatomical structures (vertebrae) is highly relevant because they integrate information on the dietary ontogeny of this shark species.



CEM thanks the Galápagos Marine Reserve, Universidad San Francisco de Quito (Galápagos Campus), Instituto Andaluz de Ciencias de la Tierra, Instituto Politécnico Nacional’s Centro Interdisciplinario de Ciencias Marinas (CICIMAR-IPN), Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACyT) and Fundación Alium Pacific. FGM, ASG, and FEV thank Instituto Politécnico Nacional for fellowships (Estímulo al Desempeño de los Investigadores [EDI] and Comisión para el Fomento de Actividades Académicas [COFAA]). We thank Isabelle Gamache and Erick García-García for editing the English text.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All sampling and experimental procedures performed in this study comply with the current Ecuadorian legislation.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fundación Alium PacificCaliColombia
  2. 2.Instituto Politécnico Nacional, Centro Interdisciplinario de Ciencias MarinasLa PazMexico
  3. 3.Instituto Andaluz de Ciencias de la Tierra (CSIC-UGR)GranadaSpain
  4. 4.Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Galápagos Science CenterIsla San CristóbalEcuador
  5. 5.Dirección del Parque Nacional Galápagos, Unidad Técnica Operativa San CristóbalIsla San CristóbalEcuador

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