Skip to main content

Arctic herbivore diet can be inferred from stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes in C3 plants, faeces, and wool

Buy Article:

$50.00 plus tax (Refund Policy)

Abstract:

The use of stable isotopes in diet analysis usually relies on the different photosynthetic pathways of C3 and C4 plants, and the resulting difference in carbon isotope signature. In the Arctic, however, plant species are exclusively C3, and carbon isotopes alone are therefore not suitable for studying arctic herbivore diets. In this study, we examined the potential of both stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes to reconstruct the diet of an arctic herbivore, here the muskox (Ovibos moschatus (Zimmermann, 1780)), in northeast Greenland. The isotope composition of plant communities and functional plant groups was compared with those of muskox faeces and shed wool, as this is a noninvasive approach to obtain dietary information on different temporal scales. Plants with different root mycorrhizal status were found to have different δ15N values, whereas differences in δ13C, as expected, were less distinct. As a result, our examination mainly relied on stable nitrogen isotopes. The interpretation of stable isotopes from faeces was difficult because of the large uncertainty in diet–faeces fractionation, whereas isotope signatures from wool suggested that the muskox summer diet consists of around 80% graminoids and up to 20% willows. In conclusion, the diet composition of an arctic herbivore can indeed be inferred from stable isotopes in arctic areas, despite the lack of C4 plants.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1139/z11-073

Affiliations: 1: Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Frederiksborgvej 399, DK-4000, Roskilde, Denmark; Institute of Biology, University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, DK-5230 Odense M, Denmark. 2: Institute of Biology, University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, DK-5230 Odense M, Denmark. 3: Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Frederiksborgvej 399, DK-4000 Roskilde, Denmark; Greenland Climate Research Centre, Greenland Institute for Natural Resources, Post box 570, 3900 Nuuk, Greenland. 4: Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Øster Farimagsgade 2D, DK-1353 Copenhagen, Denmark.

Publication date: October 27, 2011

More about this publication?
  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
  • Information for Authors
  • Submit a Paper
  • Subscribe to this Title
  • Terms & Conditions
  • Sample Issue
  • Reprints & Permissions
  • ingentaconnect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites
nrc/cjz/2011/00000089/00000010/art00002
dcterms_title,dcterms_description,pub_keyword
6
5
20
40
5

Access Key

Free Content
Free content
New Content
New content
Open Access Content
Open access content
Subscribed Content
Subscribed content
Free Trial Content
Free trial content
Cookie Policy
X
Cookie Policy
ingentaconnect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more