Stable isotope ecology in the Ituri Forest

Oecologia. 2004 Jan;138(1):5-12. doi: 10.1007/s00442-003-1375-4. Epub 2003 Oct 3.


The Ituri Forest, Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) is an example of a closed canopy forest showing extreme depletion in (13)C. delta(13)C values for plants from the canopy top, from gaps in the canopy, and from the subcanopy average -29.0+/-1.7 per thousand, -30.4+/-0.9 per thousand, and -34.0+/-1.5 per thousand, respectively. The delta(13)C of forest mammals show these differences, with the subcanopy browsers (okapi, dwarf antelope) having delta(13)C values for tooth enamel much more negative than subcanopy frugivores who derive their food from the canopy top, and from folivores and omnivores living in gap or clearing areas. Nitrogen isotopes in plants from this ecosystem have an average delta(15)N value of 5.4+/-1.8 per thousand and do not show significant differences at the 95% confidence interval between plants from the canopy top, from gaps in the canopy, and from the subcanopy. The delta(18)O(SMOW) values of surface waters in the study area are between -2.0 and -2.7. The delta(18)O(PDB) for tooth enamel ranged from -3 to +7 per thousand.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carbon Isotopes / analysis
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Diet
  • Ecology
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Food Chain*
  • Mammals*
  • Trees*


  • Carbon Isotopes