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Identifying migrations in marine fishes through stable‐isotope analysis

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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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Document Type: Editorial

Publication date: 2012-07-01

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