[MARMAM] New publication: Histology is important for stable isotope analysis in baleen plates

Diego Rita diegorita10 at gmail.com
Fri Nov 22 06:56:52 PST 2019

Dear Marmam,

On behalf of my co-authors, I am pleased to announce the publication of the
following article in Mammalian Biology:

*Histological structure of baleen plates and its relevance to sampling for
stable isotope studies*

*Rita, D.; Borrell, A.; Víkingsson, G.; Aguilar, A (2019) *Histological
structure of baleen plates and its relevance to sampling for stable isotope
studies. Mamm Biol. 99, 63:70. doi:10.1016/j.mambio.2019.10.004

Stable isotope analysis of baleen plates is a widespread technique for
studying baleen whales. Typically, subsamples along the growth axis of the
baleen plate are extracted and analysed to examine time-related variation
in their stable isotope signals. However, baleen plate tissue is composed
of two different tissues: a pair of cortex layers flanking an internal
medulla. These two histological components exhibit differential
development, and their consolidation as a tissue is therefore likely
non-synchronic. This could influence stable isotope results because the
stable isotope signal may differ in each subsample according to the
proportion of the two histological components extracted from the tissue. In
this study, stable isotope analysis was combined with optical microscopy
examination of fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) baleen plates to
understand the ontogeny of the two histological components. In both of
them, the δ15N values followed a sinewave pattern along the growth axis of
the baleen plate. However, the δ15N values of the cortex appeared to be
advanced compared to those of the medulla. Additionally, the amplitude of
the δ15N values in the oscillations was higher in the cortex than in the
medulla. The histological examination revealed that these differences are
caused by earlier and faster synthesis of the cortex layer compared to that
of the medulla. Because the stable isotope ratios of the two layers differ,
we propose that in this type of studies only the outer-most part (closest
to the surface) of the cortex should be subsampled and analysed.
Additionally, to include the most recently formed tissue, this subsampling
should start well below the zwischensubstanz, or baleen “gum”.

The paper can be accessed using the following link:

Or send me an e-mail (diegorita at ub.edu) for the full text.

Best regards,

Diego Rita
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