Faculty Research & Creative Activity

Document Type


Publication Date

January 2010


Stable isotope analysis has become an increasingly valuable tool in investigating animal ecology. Here we document the turnover rates for carbon in the liver, muscle, and whole blood tissue, as well as the tissue-diet discrimination values for carbon and nitrogen isotopes in the liver, whole blood, muscle, and hair, of the white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus (Rafinesque, 1818)). A 168-day diet-switching experiment was conducted with a laboratory population of white-footed mice. The δ13C values for all tissues deviated less than 1‰ from those of the diet except for whole blood, which had a slightly higher tissue-diet discrimination factor of 1.8‰. All tissues were enriched in 15N by approximately 3‰ relative to the diet except for liver tissue, which was 4.5‰ higher than the dietary δ15N value. Turnover rates for tissues of white-footed mice were ranked liver > whole blood > muscle. The half-lives calculated for liver tissue differed significantly between the two diet switches performed in this experiment. We demonstrate that there is potential for variation in tissue-diet discrimination values and tissue turnover rates between even closely related species. These findings highlight the importance of determining species-specific estimates of these parameters prior to the use of stable isotope analysis in field investigations of animal ecology.

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