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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Intraspecific differences in metabolic rates shape carbon stable isotope trophic discrimination factors of muscle tissue in the common teleost Eurasian perch (Perca fluviatilis)

Scharnweber, Kristin; Andersson, Matilda L.; Chaguaceda, Fernando; Eklov, Peter


1. Stable isotopes represent a unique approach to provide insights into the ecology of organisms. delta C-13 and delta N-15 have specifically been used to obtain information on the trophic ecology and food-web interactions. Trophic discrimination factors (TDF, Delta C-13 and Delta N-15) describe the isotopic fractionation occurring from diet to consumer tissue, and these factors are critical for obtaining precise estimates within any application of delta C-13 and delta N-15 values. It is widely acknowledged that metabolism influences TDF, being responsible for different TDF between tissues of variable metabolic activity (e.g., liver vs. muscle tissue) or species body size (small vs. large). However, the connection between the variation of metabolism occurring within a single species during its ontogeny and TDF has rarely been considered.2. Here, we conducted a 9-month feeding experiment to report Delta C-13 and Delta N-15 of muscle and liver tissues for several weight classes of Eurasian perch (Perca fluviatilis), a widespread teleost often studied using stable isotopes, but without established TDF for feeding on a natural diet. In addition, we assessed the relationship between the standard metabolic rate (SMR) and TDF by measuring the oxygen consumption of the individuals.3. Our results showed a significant negative relationship of SMR with Delta C-13, and a significant positive relationship of SMR with Delta N-15 of muscle tissue, but not with TDF of liver tissue. SMR varies inversely with size, which translated into a significantly different TDF of muscle tissue between size classes.4. In summary, our results emphasize the role of metabolism in shaping-specific TDF (i.e., Delta C-13 and Delta N-15 of muscle tissue) and especially highlight the substantial differences between individuals of different ontogenetic stages within a species. Our findings thus have direct implications for the use of stable isotope data and the applications of stable isotopes in food-web studies.


fractionation factors; metabolism; ontogeny; standard metabolic rate; tissue types; delta C-13; delta N-15

Published in

Ecology and Evolution
2021, Volume: 11, number: 14, pages: 9804-9814
Publisher: WILEY

    SLU Authors

    • Andersson, Matilda

      • Uppsala University
    • UKÄ Subject classification


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