Prediction of δ13C and δ15N in plant tissues with near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy


Author for correspondence:
Till Kleinebecker
Tel: +49 (0)251 83 39766


  • • Isotope measurements associated with critical plant resources, such as carbon and nitrogen, have helped deepen the ecological understanding of plant resource acquisition and plant interactions. In this study, we tested the appropriateness of near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy for the estimation of stable isotope ratios for nitrogen and carbon of plant tissues.
  • • δ13C and δ15N, as well as total carbon (Ct) and nitrogen (Nt), in leaf tissues of a heterogeneous set of 72 samples of seven bog species from southern Patagonia were determined. Near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy calibrations were developed using partial least-squares regressions and tested by a cross-validation procedure. For each variable, three calibrations were calculated: one with nontransformed data and two with transformations (first and second derivative).
  • • Ct and Nt, as well as δ13C and δ15N, were well predicted by our calibration models. The correlation coefficients of predicted vs actual values of the best calibration models were as follows: 0.95 (Ct), 0.99 (Nt), 0.89 (δ13C) and 0.99 (δ15N). The cross-validation procedure confirmed the high estimation quality of the calibrations.
  • • The results obtained underpin the great potential of the near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy technique in ecological studies as an alternative to more expensive and time-consuming standard methods.