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Isotopes in Environmental and Health Studies

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Stable isotope ecology typically involves sacrificing the animal to obtain tissues. However, with threatened species or in long-term longitudinal studies, non-lethal sampling techniques should be used. The objectives of this study were to (1) determine if caudal fin tissue could be used as a non-lethal proxy to liver and muscle for stable isotope analysis, and (2) assess the effects of ethanol preservation on δ15N and δ13C in fin tissue of juvenile yellow perch Perca flavescens. The δ13C of caudal fin was not significantly different from liver (t23 = −0.58; p = 0.57), and was more correlated with δ15N in liver (r2 = 0.78) than muscle (r2 = 0.56). Ethanol preservation enriched 15N and 13C for caudal fins, but by using our developed regression models, these changes in δ15N and δ13C can now be corrected. Overall, caudal fin tissue is a more reliable proxy to liver than muscle for δ15N and δ13C in yellow perch.


This research was supported by funding from NSERC PGS-M and OGS (MM), W. Garfield Weston Foundation (DJY), NSERC Discovery Grant and a UWindsor Research Grant for Women (CADS).

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