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Title: δ15N value does not reflect fasting in mysticetes.
Author: Aguilar, Àlex
Giménez, J.
Goméz Campos, Encarna
Cardona Pascual, Luis
Borrell Thió, Assumpció
Keywords: Mamífers marins
Ecologia marina
Nutrició animal
Marine mammals
Marine ecology
Animal nutrition
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS)
Abstract: The finding that tissue δ15N values increase with protein catabolism has led researchers to apply this value to gauge nutritive condition in vertebrates. However, its application to marine mammals has in most occasions failed. We investigated the relationship between δ15N values and the fattening/fasting cycle in a model species, the fin whale, a migratory capital breeder that experiences severe seasonal variation in body condition. We analyzed two tissues providing complementary insights: one with isotopic turnover (muscle) and one that keeps a permanent record of variations in isotopic values (baleen plates). In both tissues δ15N values increased with intensive feeding but decreased with fasting, thus contradicting the pattern previously anticipated. The apparent inconsistency during fasting is explained by the fact that a) individuals migrate between different isotopic isoscapes, b) starvation may not trigger significant negative nitrogen balance, and c) excretion drops and elimination of 15N-depleted urine is minimized. Conversely, when intensive feeding is resumed in the northern grounds, protein anabolism and excretion start again, triggering 15N enrichment. It can be concluded that in whales and other mammals that accrue massive depots of lipids as energetic reserves and which have limited access to drinking water, the δ15N value is not affected by fasting and therefore cannot be used as an indicatior of nutritive condition.
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It is part of: PLoS One, 2014, vol. 9, num. 3, p. e92288
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ISSN: 1932-6203
Appears in Collections:Articles publicats en revistes (Biologia Evolutiva, Ecologia i Ciències Ambientals)

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