EPA Science Inventory

Realistic Fasting Does Not Affect Stable Isotope Levels of a Metabolically Efficient Salamander

Citation:

Milanovich, J. AND J. Maerz. Realistic Fasting Does Not Affect Stable Isotope Levels of a Metabolically Efficient Salamander. JOURNAL OF HERPETOLOGY. Society for the Study of Amphibians & Reptiles, Salt Lake City, UT, 47(4):544-548, (2013).

Description:

Stable isotopes are commonly used to examine various aspects of animal ecology. The use of stable isotopes generally proceeds under the implicit assumption that resource use is the only factor driving variation in stable isotope levels; however, a wealth of studies demonstrate a range of common ecological factors can affect the behavior of stable isotopes in animal tissues and potentially confound inferences. For example, studies of some invertebrates and endothermic vertebrates show that animals fasted for ecologically realistic time periods become enriched in 15N or depleted in 13C. We examined whether realistic fasting would influence the stable isotope composition of one of the most metabolically efficient ectothermic vertebrates, the Eastern Red-backed Salamander, Plethodon cinereus. We fasted salamanders for 7, 14, 21, 28, and 35 day intervals and examined whether 15N or 13C levels of tissues changed between fasted and fed animals. We investigated whether body condition (body mass to length and C:N [an index of lipid levels]) declined in fasted animals and whether there was a relationship between C:N and 15N or 13C. Body mass to length index and C:N, δ13C and δ15N of tail and liver tissues did not differ between fasted and fed animals between 7 and 35 d. Because of their extreme metabolic efficiency, vertebrate ectotherms such as lungless salamanders (Plethodontidae) may not show the effects of fasting on stable isotopes observed in endothermic vertebrates and some invertebrates. This difference should lead to simpler interpretation of stable isotope results from field studies of these animals.

Purpose/Objective:

Because of their extreme metabolic efficiency, vertebrate ectotherms such as lungless salamanders (Plethodontidae) may not show the effects of fasting on stable isotopes observed in endothermic vertebrates and some invertebrates. This difference should lead to simpler interpretation of stable isotope results from field studies of these animals.

URLs/Downloads:

http://www.zenscientist.com/index.php/zenscientist-news/entry/journal-of-herpetology-47-4   Exit

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (JOURNAL/PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL)
Start Date: 04/16/2014
Completion Date: 04/16/2014
Record Last Revised: 08/31/2015
Record Created: 04/16/2014
Record Released: 04/16/2014
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 273441

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL RISK MANAGEMENT RESEARCH LABORATORY

SUSTAINABLE TECHNOLOGY DIVISION

SUSTAINABLE ENVIRONMENTS BRANCH