Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 387–395 | Cite as

Potential of δ13C and δ15N of cladoceran subfossil exoskeletons for paleo-ecological studies

  • Marie-Elodie Perga
Original Paper


Stable isotope analyses on cladoceran subfossil exoskeletons retrieved from sediment cores could allow the reconstruction of past changes in lake food webs provided the δ13C and δ15N values of the exoskeletons reflect those of the organisms’ whole body. The relationships between the C and N stable isotope compositions of the exoskeletons and those of the whole body were investigated for two freshwater cladoceran taxa (Bosmina sp. and Daphnia sp.) from modern samples. The C and N stable isotope compositions of the exoskeleton and those of the whole body were strongly correlated. Exoskeleton δ13C was similar to the whole body δ13C for both taxa. Daphnia exoskeletons were strongly depleted in 15N (−7.9‰) compared to the whole body. Stable isotope analyses were thereafter performed on cladoceran remains from five downcore samples from Lake Annecy, France. Results showed that Bosmina δ15N values increased by more than 4‰, between the early twentieth and twenty first centuries. Such changes might be the result of changes in nitrogen sources or cycling in the lake and/or of major shifts in Bosmina trophic position within the lake food web. This study sets up the potential of stable isotope analyses performed on cladoceran subfossil remains for paleo-ecological purposes.


Stable isotope Food web Zooplankton Sediment Chitin Lake 



I am grateful to the two anonymous reviewers and O. Heiri whose comments definitely improved the quality of this manuscript. This work was supported by a “projet innovant 2007” funding from the French National Institute for Agronomical Research (INRA). I also thank J. Arce for technical assistance on this work and Alex Bec and Remy Tadonleké for their thoughtful reading and comments on this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Institute for Agronomical Research (INRA)Alpine Centre for Research on Lake Ecosystems and Food Webs (CARRTEL)Thonon les Bains CedexFrance

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