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Identifying migrations in marine fishes through stable-isotope analysis

Authors

  • C. N. Trueman,

    Corresponding author
    1. Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, University of Southampton, Waterfront Campus, Southampton SO14 3ZH, U.K.
      Tel.: +44(0)2380 596571; email: trueman@noc.soton.ac.uk
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  • K. M. MacKenzie,

    1. Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, University of Southampton, Waterfront Campus, Southampton SO14 3ZH, U.K.
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  • M. R. Palmer

    1. Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, University of Southampton, Waterfront Campus, Southampton SO14 3ZH, U.K.
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Tel.: +44(0)2380 596571; email: trueman@noc.soton.ac.uk

Abstract

The isotopic composition of many elements varies across both land and ocean surfaces in a predictable fashion. These stable-isotope ratios are transferred into animal tissues, potentially providing a powerful natural geospatial tag. To date, most studies using stable isotopes as geolocators in marine settings have focussed on mammals and seabirds conducting large ocean-basin scale migrations. An increasing understanding of isotopic variation in the marine environment, and improved sampling and analytical techniques, however, means that stable isotopes now hold genuine promise as a natural geolocation tag in marine fishes. Here, the theoretical background underpinning the use of stable isotopes of C, N and O in otolith, scale and muscle tissues as geolocation tools in the marine environment is reviewed, and examples of their applications are provided.

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