Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 4512
Title: Effects of decomposition and storage conditions on the ´13C and ´15N isotope values of killer whale (Orcinus orca) skin and blubber tissues
Author: D. G. Burrows, W. L. Reichert, M. B. Hanson
Publication Year: 2013
Journal: Marine Mammal Science
DOI: 10.1111/mms.12706
Keywords: stable isotope, d15N, d13C, killer whale, skin, blubber, storage conditions, decomposition, preservation,

Several different factors in the collection and preservation of whale skin and blubber samples were examined to determine their effect on the results obtained by stable nitrogen and carbon isotope (δ15N and δ13C) analysis. Samples of wet killer whale skin retained their original stable isotope values for up to 14 d at 4°C or lower. However, decomposition significantly changed the δ15N value within 3 d at  20°C. Storage at -20°C was as effective as -80°C for the preservation of skin and blubber samples for stable isotope analysis for at least a year. By contrast, once a skin sample had been freeze-dried and lipid extracted, the stable isotope values did not change significantly when it was stored dry at room temperature for at least 12 mo. Preservation of whale skin samples for a month in DMSO-salt solution, frozen or at room temperature, did not significantly change the δ15N and δ13C values of lipid extracted tissues, although the slight changes seen could influence results of a study if only small changes are expected.

Theme: Recovery, Rebuilding and Sustainability of Marine and Anadromous Species
Foci: Characterize vital rates and other demographic parameters for key species, and develop and improve methods for predicting risk and viability/sustainability from population dynamics and demographic information.
Develop methods to use physiological and biological information to predict population-level processes.