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Tissue and fixative dependent shifts of δ13C and δ15N in preserved ecological material

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Christopher Sweeting, Professor Nick Polunin, Professor Simon Jennings


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Carbon and nitrogen stable isotope analyses are routinely used to investigate aquatic food webs, and have potential application in retrospective investigations using archived materials. However, such analyses assume that storage does not alter isotopic signatures of materials preserved, or that changes in isotopic composition during storage are predictable. Here we examine preservation shifts on cod (Gadus morhua) muscle, roe and liver tissue over 21 months following preservation in 80% ethanol, in 4% formaldehyde, and by freezing. Preservation shifts were not consistent among tissues. High protein tissues exhibited greater δ15N shifts than low protein tissues in 4% formaldehyde, while greater δ13C shifts occurred in relatively higher fat tissues when preserved in alcohol. Freezing did not change isotopic signatures. Responses of δ15N and δ13C are explained by differences in the preservative's isotopic signature and the reaction properties and biochemical composition of the tissues preserved. The results clarify some of the processes that lead to isotopic change during preservation. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Sweeting CJ, Polunin NVC, Jennings S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry

Year: 2004

Volume: 18

Issue: 21

Pages: 2587-2592

ISSN (print): 0951-4198

ISSN (electronic): 1097-0231

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


DOI: 10.1002/rcm.1661

PubMed id: 15468144


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