A forensic approach to understanding habitat use from stable isotope analysis of (avian) claw material

Bearhop, S., Furness, R.W., Hilton, G.H. and Waldron, S. (2003) A forensic approach to understanding habitat use from stable isotope analysis of (avian) claw material. Functional Ecology, 17(2), pp. 270-275. (doi:10.1046/j.1365-2435.2003.00725.x)

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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2435.2003.00725.x

Abstract

1. The potential of using stable isotope signatures of avian claws in order to infer diet and habitat use was investigated. 2. Highly significant relationships observed between stable carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios (13C, 15N) in the claws and body feathers of resident birds were expected since it was predicted that they were synthesized in the same habitat and approximately the same time of year. 3. Likewise the non-significant relationships observed between 13C and 15N in the claws and tertial feathers of neotropical migrant birds were also predicted since the claws were synthesized in the wintering area and the tertials in the breeding area. 4. The growth rates measured in the claws of five species of palearctic passerines provide evidence that this tissue should integrate dietary and habitat information over a medium temporal scale (probably weeks to months). 5. It is suggested that claws may offer a unique combination of attributes to the isotope ecologist: they are non-invasively sampled; metabolically inert but grow continuously, and are therefore a more flexible tool than feathers. 6. It is also suggested that that the stable isotope signatures in the claws of mammals and reptiles may provide similar information. 6. It is also suggested that that the stable isotope signatures in the claws of mammals and reptiles may provide similar information.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Furness, Professor Bob
Authors: Bearhop, S., Furness, R.W., Hilton, G.H., and Waldron, S.
Subjects:Q Science > QL Zoology
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
College of Science and Engineering > Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre
Journal Name:Functional Ecology
Publisher:Blackwell Publishing
ISSN:1365-2435
Copyright Holders:© Copyright 2003 British Ecological Society
First Published:First published in Functional Ecology 17(2):270-275
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.

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