What is it about?
Isotopic niche is assumed to be a valid proxy for trophic niche in ecology. We have shown for the first time that this assumption is not correct. When diet is held constant, the isotopic niche metrics vary significantly and reflect animal growth and metabolic rate.
Why is it important?
These findings fundamentally challenge how the isotopic niche is interpreted in field studies when variation in growth status of the consumers is unknown.
Read the Original
This page is a summary of: Individual growth as a non-dietary determinant of the isotopic niche metrics, Methods in Ecology and Evolution, October 2017, Wiley, DOI: 10.1111/2041-210x.12887.
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Towards understanding stable isotope signatures in stressed systems
Today, the isotopic niche is one of the most popular tools in trophic ecology. Remarkably, no testing of the basic assumptions behind this approach has ever been conducted, although our current knowledge of the physiological fractionation processes implies that any alteration in growth and metabolism can affect variability of the isotopic signature in consumers. In this project we evaluate how various non-dietary factors, such as inadequate nutrition, diseases and exposure to toxic substances, alter stable isotope signatures and isotopic niche metrics.
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