Seabird satellite tracking validates the use of latitudinal isoscapes to depict predators' foraging areas in the Southern Ocean.

Abstract : Stable isotopes are increasingly being used to trace wildlife movements. A fundamental prerequisite of animal isotopic tracking is a good knowledge of spatial isotopic variations in the environment. Few accessible reference maps of the isotopic landscape ("isoscapes") are available for marine predators. Here, we validate for the first time an isotopic gradient for higher trophic levels by using a unique combination of a large number of satellite-tracks and subsequent blood plasma isotopic signatures from a wide-ranging oceanic predator. The plasma δ(13)C and δ(15)N values of wandering albatrosses (n = 45) were highly and positively correlated to the Southern Ocean latitudes at which the satellite-tracked individuals foraged. The well-defined latitudinal baseline carbon isoscapes in the Southern Ocean is thus reflected in the tissue of consumers, but with a positive shift due to the cumulative effect of a slight (13)C-enrichment at each trophic level. The data allowed us to estimate the carbon isotopic position of the main oceanic fronts in the area, and thus to delineate robust isoscapes of the main foraging zones for top predators. The plasma δ(13)C and δ(15)N values were positively and linearly correlated, thus suggesting that latitudinal isoscapes also occur for δ(15)N at the base of the food web in oceanic waters of the Southern Ocean. The combination of device deployments with sampling of relevant tissues for isotopic analysis appears to be a powerful tool for investigating consumers' isoscapes at various spatio-temporal scales.
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Submitted on : Friday, December 17, 2010 - 9:33:25 AM
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Audrey Jaeger, Vincent J Lecomte, Henri Weimerskirch, Pierre Richard, Yves Cherel. Seabird satellite tracking validates the use of latitudinal isoscapes to depict predators' foraging areas in the Southern Ocean.. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, Wiley, 2010, 24 (23), pp.3456-60. ⟨10.1002/rcm.4792⟩. ⟨hal-00547682⟩

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