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An evaluation of whale skin differences and its suitability as a tissue for stable isotope analysis
- Borrell, Asunción, Sant, Pol, Víkingsson, Gísli, Aguilar, Alex, García-Vernet, Raquel
- Journal of sea research 2018 v.140 pp. 59-62
- Balaenoptera physalus, biopsy, diet, stable isotopes, whales
- Stable isotope analysis of whale skin has been recurrently used to assess diet and movement patterns. Such studies rely on the untested assumption that the stable isotope ratios in the small skin biopsies analysed are representative of those throughout the skin. In balaenopterids, the ventral skin looks notably different from that of the dorsal region, which is smoother and darker. To investigate possible differences in isotopic ratios throughout the skin, we collected and analysed samples from dorsal and ventral positions in 28 fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus). No significant differences were found between these two skin positions, which might suggest that whale skin is likely a homogeneous tissue. Thus, the isotopic ratios determined at a specific point may be representative of the whole skin in whales.