[MARMAM] New publication: Alkenones as water temperature proxy in cetacean tissues

Diego Rita diegorita10 at gmail.com
Fri Jul 10 01:25:17 PDT 2020

Dear Marmam,

On behalf of my co-authors, I am pleased to announce the publication of the
following article in Limnology and Oceanography: Methods:

*Alkenones as a temperature proxy in fin whale (Balaenoptera
physalus) tissues*

*Rita, D.; Borrell, A.;  Aguilar, A (2020) *Alkenones as a temperature
proxy in fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) tissues. Limnol. oceanogr.:
Methods. DOI:10.1002/lom3.10375

Alkenones are a group of extremely resilient molecules produced by
cosmopolitan haptophyte organisms. The unsaturation index (Uk’37) of di-
versus tri-unsaturated C37 alkenones (C37:2·(C37:2+C37:3)-1) can be used to
estimate the temperature of the water in which the alkenone-producing
organisms grew. Alkenones have been widely used in palaeoceanography, but
they have received little attention in other fields. In this study, a
method to detect alkenones in fin whale (*Balaenoptera physalus*) tissues
is developed to adapt this technique to the marine ecology field. Five
replicas of five tissues (stomach content, external blubber, internal
blubber, muscle and liver) were analysed using gas chromatography coupled
to mass spectrometry. Alkenones were present in both blubber tissues (66
±57 ng·g-1 in external blubber and 145 ±89 ng·g-1 in external blubber), and
in the stomach content (3126 ±2643 ng·g-1). The calculated Uk’37 index was
very similar in the three tissues: 0.54 ±0.03 in the external blubber, 0.55
±0.08 in the internal blubber and 0.71 ±0.06 in the stomach content. These
indexes are equivalent to a sea surface temperature estimates of 17.79
±0.68ºC in the external blubber, 17.84 ±1.84ºC in the internal blubber and
21.07 ±1.23ºC in the stomach content, which are very similar to the
expected temperature for the region. The results of the current study
indicate that alkenones biodilute in the trophic web, which could hinder
the analyses of alkenones in species with a high trophic level. However, it
is shown that alkenones can be detected in fin whale tissues and can be
used to approximate the environmental water temperature where these animals

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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