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Starvation effects on nitrogen and carbon stable isotopes of animals: an insight from meta-analysis of fasting experiments.


ABSTRACT: Nitrogen and carbon stable isotopic compositions (?15N and ?13C) of consumers have been used for physiological and food web studies. Previous studies have shown ?15N and ?13C values are affected by several biological and environmental factors during starvation, but the generality of the effect of starvation on ?15N and ?13C values has not yet been tested. Here, we performed a meta-analysis to evaluate the effects of starvation on ?15N and ?13C values of consumers, and the underlying factors that may explain the observed variation. The ?15N and ?13C values were calculated as the differences between the final ?15N and ?13C values of consumers (post-starvation) and the pre-starvation values on each experiment. Our meta-analysis showed a large variation in the ?15N and ?13C values of consumers (?15N range: -0.82 to 4.30‰; mean: 0.47‰ and ?13C range: -1.92 to 2.62‰; mean: 0.01‰). The ?15N values of most consumers increased along the length of the starvation period and were influenced by nitrogen excretion and thermoregulation types, probably because differences in nitrogen metabolism and thermoregulation affect nitrogen processing and excretion rates. None of our predictor variables accounted for the variation in ?13C values, which showed both increases and decreases due to fasting. Our findings suggest that starvation results in changes in consumer ?15N values which are mainly explained by the length of the fasting period and by nitrogen and energy metabolism, but the underlying mechanisms of the starvation effects on ?13C values seem to be more complex than previously thought.

SUBMITTER: Doi H 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC5579121 | BioStudies | 2017-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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