Meta-analysis of amino acid stable nitrogen isotope ratios for estimating trophic position in marine organisms
Number of Authors: 3
2015 (English)In: Oecologia, ISSN 0029-8549, E-ISSN 1432-1939, Vol. 178, no 3, 631-642 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Estimating trophic structures is a common approach used to retrieve information regarding energy pathways, predation, and competition in complex ecosystems. The application of amino acid (AA) compound-specific nitrogen (N) isotope analysis (CSIA) is a relatively new method used to estimate trophic position (TP) and feeding relationships in diverse organisms. Here, we conducted the first meta-analysis of delta N-15 AA values from measurements of 359 marine species covering four trophic levels, and compared TP estimates from AA-CSIA to literature values derived from food items, gut or stomach content analysis. We tested whether the AA trophic enrichment factor (TEF), or the N-15 enrichment among different individual AAs is constant across trophic levels and whether inclusion of delta N-15 values from multiple AAs improves TP estimation. For the TEF of glutamic acid relative to phenylalanine (Phe) we found an average value of 6.6 aEuro degrees across all taxa, which is significantly lower than the commonly applied 7.6 aEuro degrees. We found that organism feeding ecology influences TEF values of several trophic AAs relative to Phe, with significantly higher TEF values for herbivores compared to omnivores and carnivores, while TEF values were also significantly lower for animals excreting urea compared to ammonium. Based on the comparison of multiple model structures using the metadata of delta N-15 AA values we show that increasing the number of AAs in principle improves precision in TP estimation. This meta-analysis clarifies the advantages and limitations of using individual delta N-15 AA values as tools in trophic ecology and provides a guideline for the future application of AA-CSIA to food web studies.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 178, no 3, 631-642 p.
Compounds-specific isotope analysis, Food webs, Trophic enrichment factor, Trophic ecology
Research subject Marine Ecology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-119142DOI: 10.1007/s00442-015-3305-7ISI: 000356534400001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-119142DiVA: diva2:843755