Turnover rates of nitrogen stable isotopes in the salt marsh mummichog, Fundulus heteroclitus, following a laboratory diet switch

Oecologia. 2006 Mar;147(3):391-5. doi: 10.1007/s00442-005-0277-z. Epub 2005 Oct 25.


Nitrogen stable isotopes are frequently used in ecological studies to estimate trophic position and determine movement patterns. Knowledge of tissue-specific turnover and nitrogen discrimination for the study organisms is important for accurate interpretation of isotopic data. We measured delta15 N turnover in liver and muscle tissue in juvenile mummichogs, Fundulus heteroclitus, following a laboratory diet switch. Liver tissue turned over significantly faster than muscle tissue suggesting the potential for a multiple tissue stable isotope approach to study movement and trophic position over different time scales; metabolism contributed significantly to isotopic turnover for both liver and muscle. Nitrogen diet-tissue discrimination was estimated at between 0.0 and 1.2 per thousand for liver and -1.0 and 0.2 per thousand for muscle. This is the first experiment to demonstrate a significant variation in delta15 N turnover between liver and muscle tissues in a fish species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diet*
  • Fundulidae / metabolism*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Muscles / metabolism
  • Nitrogen Isotopes / metabolism*


  • Nitrogen Isotopes