Combining Isoscapes with Tissue-Specific Isotope Records to Recreate the Geographic Histories of Fish

  • Ernst B. PeeblesEmail author
  • David J. Hollander


After the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill, interest in marine animal movement was heightened by recognition that some individual animals had been cryptically exposed to the oil, and that some of these exposed individuals later moved, introducing oil contamination to geographic areas that were beyond the initial domain of direct oil impact. Forensic methods based on internally recorded stable-isotope records can be used to address the issue of movement by contaminated individuals. Different tissues provide stable-isotope histories that reflect different periods in the individual’s history, ranging from just a few recent days in the case of blood plasma to the entire lifetime in the case of eye lenses and otoliths. Isotopic offsets between tissue types (e.g., liver and muscle) within the same individual can be used to measure the relative site fidelities of different individuals. Among individuals that have low site fidelity, geographic movements can be estimated by comparing lifetime isotope trends with background maps of isotope variation (isoscapes). The process of isotope conservation within the vertebrate eye lens is described, and practical application of forensic methods and data interpretation are discussed.


Isoscapes Isotope gradients Site fidelity Animal migration Cryptic exposure Tissue-specific isotope analysis Eye-lens anatomy Crystallins Eye-lens isotopes Compound-specific isotope analysis 



This research was made possible in part by a grant from The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative/C-IMAGE I, II, and III.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of South Florida, College of Marine ScienceSt. PetersburgUSA

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