Effects of preservation methods on stable isotope signatures in bird tissues

Bugoni, L., McGill, R.A.R. and Furness, R.W. (2008) Effects of preservation methods on stable isotope signatures in bird tissues. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, 22(16), pp. 2457-2462. (doi:10.1002/rcm.3633)

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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/rcm.3633

Abstract

Increasing use is being made of stable isotopes as indicators of habitat use and trophic ecology of animals. Preservation of tissues can alter stable isotope signatures. We investigated the effects of addition of ethanol and NaCl solution (hereafter salt), and of freezing and drying, on carbon and nitrogen isotopic values in blood of the spectacled petrel Procellaria conspicillata , and compared these with those from simultaneously growing feathers. The mean 13C values of blood preserved in ethanol was significantly higher, and of blood preserved in salt was significantly lower than that of dried or frozen samples. 13C values in ethanol showed high variation according to brand and batch and could account for the differences found in 13C ratios in ethanol-preserved blood samples. Mean 13C and 15N values in growing feathers were higher than in blood, suggesting tissue-specific fractionation. We conclude that different methods of preserving tissues such as blood may bias stable isotope values, and urge researchers to consider this issue. Air drying is proposed as a practical and unbiased method for blood preservation in field situations where freezing is not a practical option, and a mathematical approach is suggested to permit comparison between studies using different preservation methods or tissues.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:McGill, Dr Rona and Furness, Professor Robert
Authors: Bugoni, L., McGill, R.A.R., and Furness, R.W.
Subjects:Q Science > QL Zoology
Q Science > QD Chemistry
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
Journal Name:Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry
ISSN:0951-4198

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