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Fairbanks, AK, United States

Wang S.W.,Sedna Ecological Inc. | Wang S.W.,Eider Research Program | Hollmen T.E.,Eider Research Program | Hollmen T.E.,University of Alaska Fairbanks | Iverson S.J.,Dalhousie University
Canadian Journal of Zoology | Year: 2014

Determining the diets of threatened Spectacled Eiders (Somateria fischeri (Brandt, 1847)) in relation to life-history stages will provide information to help identify and characterize their critical habitats. Quantitative fatty acid signature analysis (QFASA) is a novel tool that estimates the proportion of diet items in consumers from their fat depots. We conducted feeding experiments to validate the use of QFASA to estimate the mixed diets of captive female Spectacled Eiders using egg yolk fatty acids (FA) collected in 2008 and 2009. Calibration coefficients (CCs) for individual FA were developed to account for FA modification (due to eider lipid metabolism) from diets of eiders into egg yolk. We also compared the FA profiles between fertile and infertile eggs. Egg yolk FA profiles did not differ significantly between infertile and fertile eggs collected in either year. Using the CCs developed from eggs collected in 2008, QFASA closely estimated the 2009 diet composition of eiders. We conclude that using infertile eggs has the potential to provide a noninvasive method to elucidate diets of breeding female Spectacled Eiders and possibly other avian species, and to provide insight into understanding the sources (i.e., marine wintering or freshwater breeding habitat) and timing (i.e., prebreeding or breeding) of nutrient acquisition during reproduction. Source

Budge S.M.,Dalhousie University | Wang S.W.,University of Alaska Fairbanks | Wang S.W.,Sedna Ecological Inc. | Hollmen T.E.,University of Alaska Fairbanks | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Experimental Biology | Year: 2011

Carbon isotopic fractionation was investigated in fatty acids (FA) of adipose tissue and blood serum of threatened Steller's eiders (Polysticta stelleri) and spectacled eiders (Somateria fischeri) relative to the FA in their diets. Captive eiders were fed a known diet for 180days with serum sampled at 60, 120 and 180days immediately after a 12h fast; adipose was collected at 180days. Essential FA (EFA) in the adipose showed varying degrees of isotope fractionation (0-4‰), depending on FA structure. The δ 13C values of long-chain FA 20:5n-3 and 22:6n-3 did not differ from those in the diet, while those of 18:2n-6 and 18:3n-3 were ∼2‰ greater than in the diet. The δ 13C values of free FA (FFA) in serum were not consistent within individuals or sampling dates; fractionation varied randomly, suggesting that FFA were arising from diet, rather than mobilization from adipose tissue. Discrimination factors were used in combination with a mixing model incorporating FA and lipid concentrations to estimate the diet of eiders fed a binary mixture with contrasting isotopic signatures. Diet estimates varied with FA but mean values closely approximated the actual proportions consumed. By tracking EFA, this study avoided the complications in interpretation arising from isotopic routing of carbon in bulk isotope analyses and serves as a basis for the development of compound-specific isotopic methods to trace dietary input in wild eiders. However, our understanding of the processes contributing to the variation in isotopic signatures of FA in nature is currently limited, and we recommend that future research directions focus on elucidating these mechanisms. © 2011. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd. Source

Foster K.L.,University of Ottawa | Wang S.W.,Sedna Ecological Inc. | MacKay D.,Trent University | Mallory M.L.,Environment Canada | Blais J.M.,University of Ottawa
Environmental Science and Technology | Year: 2010

Bird species from the order Procellariiformes or petrels, including the northern fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis), produce high lipid and high energy content stomach oils from the prey they consume, which enables them to exploit distant marine food sources. Stomach oils are also used as a food source for chicks and for defensive purposes. Samples of stomach oils from two Arctic colonies, St. George Island Alaska, USA and Cape Vera, Devon Island Nunavut, Canada, were collected and analyzed for organochlorine contaminants. ΣPCB concentrations ranged from 13 to 236 ng g-1 wet weight (ww) and ΣDDT concentrations from 5 to 158 ng g-1 ww and were similar in both sites, though differences in chemical signatures were apparent. Stomach oils are a rich energy source; however, they may also provide a higher dose of contaminants per unit energy than the direct consumption of prey items, as illustrated using mass and energy balance calculations to estimate chick exposure to ΣDDT for hypothetical stomach oil and whole prey diets. The results of this study suggest that stomach oils are an important vector of organochlorine contaminants to chicks and should be considered in future risk assessments of northern fulmars and other species of petrels. To our knowledge this is the first study of stomach oils as an overlooked vector of organochlorine contaminants to chicks and as a potentially valuable medium for dietary analysis and noninvasive biomonitoring both of petrel dietary exposure and of marine contaminant concentrations. © 2010 American Chemical Society. Source

Federer R.N.,University of Alaska Fairbanks | Federer R.N.,Alaska SeaLife Center | Hollmen T.E.,University of Alaska Fairbanks | Hollmen T.E.,Alaska SeaLife Center | And 4 more authors.
Canadian Journal of Zoology | Year: 2010

Stable isotope analyses of animal tissues can be used to infer diet through application of mixing models. An imsportant component in a mixing model is the incorporation of stable isotope discrimination factors so that isotopic shifts between diet and tissues built from the diet can be accounted for when comparing tissues to potential food sources. We determined the stable carbon and nitrogen isotopic discrimination factors between lipid-free diet and blood plasma, cellular blood, and adult chest contour feathers for captive female Spectacled Eiders (Somateria fischeri (Brandt, 1847)). Mean discrimination factors for blood components and feathers were either similar or slightly larger compared with previously studied species. Additionally, we determined the stable carbon isotope discrimination factors between dietary lipids and adipose tissue fatty acids using three adipose tissue biopsies from captive male Spectacled Eiders that were fed three different diet treatments. Isotopic signatures of adipose tissue fatty acids closely reflected shifts in the diet and were either similar to or increased relative to diet. Our study provides a foundation for research using tissues as end-members in stable isotope nutrient allocation models and foraging ecology studies of Spectacled Eiders, and will provide the most applicable isotope data to date for sea ducks. Source

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