Marine Biology

, Volume 158, Issue 11, pp 2389–2404 | Cite as

Temporal and spatial variation in the δ15N and δ13C values of fish and squid from Alaskan waters

  • Carolyn M. Kurle
  • Elizabeth H. Sinclair
  • Ann E. Edwards
  • Carolyn J. Gudmundson
Original Paper


To test the hypothesis that stable isotope ratios from marine organisms vary, the δ15N and δ13C values from fish and squid collected in Alaskan waters were measured across years (1997, 2000, and 2005), seasons, geographic locations, and different size/age classes, and between muscle tissue and whole animals. Temporal, geographic, and ontogenetic differences in stable isotope ratios ranged from 0.5–2.5‰ (δ15N) to 0.5–2.0‰ (δ13C). Twenty-one comparisons of stable isotope values between whole organisms and muscle tissue revealed only four small differences each for δ15N and δ13C, making costly and space prohibitive collection of whole animals unnecessary. The data from this study indicate that significant variations of stable isotope values from animals in marine systems necessitates collection of prey and predator tissues from the same time and place for best interpretation of stable isotope analysis in foraging ecology studies.


Stable Isotope Site Fidelity Lower Trophic Level Walleye Pollock Marine Predator 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Thank you to the Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC) for collecting fish and squid on FOCI and RACE Division cruises in the Bering Sea, Gulf of Alaska, and Shelikof Strait in 2000. We also greatly appreciate the vessel and scientific crews on the AFSC eastern Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska bottom trawl surveys for their efforts to provide tissue samples from 2005. Thank you to D. Brown, J. Buzitis, K. Call, D. Ernest, and K. Shearer for access to equipment for sample preparation. Thanks to T. Loughlin and T. Gelatt for support. Thank you to G. Duker, T. Gelatt, J. Lee, O. Ormseth, and three anonymous reviewers for comments that greatly improved this manuscript.

Supplementary material

227_2011_1741_MOESM1_ESM.docx (27 kb)
(DOCX 26.9 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carolyn M. Kurle
    • 1
  • Elizabeth H. Sinclair
    • 2
  • Ann E. Edwards
    • 3
    • 4
  • Carolyn J. Gudmundson
    • 2
  1. 1.Division of Biological Sciences, Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution SectionUniversity of California San DiegoLa JollaUSA
  2. 2.National Marine Mammal Laboratory, Alaska Fisheries Science CenterNational Marine Fisheries Service, NOAASeattleUSA
  3. 3.Alaska Fisheries Science CenterNational Marine Fisheries Service, NOAASeattleUSA
  4. 4.School of Aquatic and Fisheries SciencesUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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