Measuring terrestrial subsidies to aquatic food webs using stable isotopes of hydrogen

Richard R. Doucett, Jane C Marks, Dean W. Blinn, Melanie Caron, Bruce A Hungate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

123 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Understanding river food webs requires distinguishing energy derived from primary production in the river itself (autochthonous) from that produced externally (allochthonous), yet there are no universally applicable and reliable techniques for doing so. We compared the natural abundance stable isotope ratios of hydrogen (δD) of allochthonous and autochthonous energy sources in four different aquatic ecosystems. We found that autochthonous organic matter is uniformly far more depleted in deuterium (lower δD values) than allochthonous: an average difference of ∼100‰. We also found that organisms at higher trophic levels, including both aquatic invertebrates and fish, have δD values intermediate between aquatic algae and terrestrial plants. The consistent differences between leaves and algae in δD among these four watersheds, along with the intermediate values in higher trophic levels, indicate that natural abundance hydrogen isotope signatures are a powerful tool for partitioning energy flow in aquatic ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1587-1592
Number of pages6
JournalEcology
Volume88
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2007

Fingerprint

algae
aquatic food webs
subsidies
aquatic ecosystem
trophic level
hydrogen
stable isotopes
food web
stable isotope
alga
rivers
aquatic invertebrates
deuterium
hydrogen isotope
energy flow
energy
river
food webs
primary production
primary productivity

Keywords

  • Allochthonous
  • Autochthonous
  • Deuterium
  • Hydrogen isotopes
  • Mixing models
  • Pyrolysis
  • Stable isotopes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology

Cite this

Measuring terrestrial subsidies to aquatic food webs using stable isotopes of hydrogen. / Doucett, Richard R.; Marks, Jane C; Blinn, Dean W.; Caron, Melanie; Hungate, Bruce A.

In: Ecology, Vol. 88, No. 6, 06.2007, p. 1587-1592.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Doucett, Richard R. ; Marks, Jane C ; Blinn, Dean W. ; Caron, Melanie ; Hungate, Bruce A. / Measuring terrestrial subsidies to aquatic food webs using stable isotopes of hydrogen. In: Ecology. 2007 ; Vol. 88, No. 6. pp. 1587-1592.
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