Effects of fasting and nutritional restriction on the isotopic ratios of nitrogen and carbon: a meta‐analysis
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Effects of fasting and nutritional restriction on the isotopic ratios of nitrogen and carbon: a meta‐analysis

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  • Journal Title:
    Ecology and Evolution
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    Many organisms experience fasting in their life time, and this physiological process has the potential to alter stable isotope values of organisms, and confound interpretation of food web studies. However, previous studies on the effects of fasting and starvation on stable isotopes show disparate results, and have never been quantitatively synthesized. We performed a laboratory experiment and meta‐analysis to determine how stable isotopes of δ15N and δ13C change with fasting, and we tested whether moderators such as taxa and tissue explain residual variation. We collected literature data from a wide variety of taxa and tissues. We surveyed over 2000 papers, and of these, 26 met our selection criteria, resulting in 51 data points for δ15N, and 43 data points for δ13C. We determine that fasting causes an average increase in the isotopic value of organisms of 0.5‰ for δ15N and that the only significant moderator is tissue type. We find that the overall effect size for δ13C is not significant, but when the significant moderator of tissue is considered, significant increases in blood and whole organisms are seen with fasting. Our results show that across tissues and taxa, the nutritional status of an organism must be considered when interpreting stable isotope data, as fasting can cause large differences in stable isotope values that would be otherwise attributed to other factors.
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    Ecology and Evolution, 5(21), 4829-4839
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    CC BY
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