[MARMAM] New paper: Acid treatment effect on stable isotope ratios in sperm whale teeth

Laura Stukonytė laura.stukonyte at gmail.com
Wed Mar 29 14:05:14 PDT 2023

Dear MARMAM community,

We are pleased to share our new paper on the effect of formic acid
treatment on stable isotope ratios in sperm whale teeth dentine:

Stukonytė L, Borrell A, Drago M, Lockyer C, Víkingsson G, Aguilar A. Effect
of formic acid treatment on carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratios in
sperm whale teeth dentine. Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom. 2023; 37(10): e9500.

Stable isotope analysis of growth layers in sperm whale teeth dentine can
provide valuable insight into individual long-distance displacements and
diet. Although treating teeth half-sections with formic acid and rubbing
their surface with a graphite pencil improves growth layer visibility and
reduces sampling error, previous studies mostly used untreated
half-sections as the effect this treatment may have on stable isotope
ratios in dentine is unknown. The present study investigates the treatment
effect on stable C and N isotope ratios in sperm whale teeth dentine. In
the teeth of 30 sperm whales, we analysed and compared samples of powdered
dentine obtained from a) untreated half-sections, b) half-sections etched
with formic acid and rubbed with a graphite pencil, and c) half-sections
etched with formic acid from which the graphite pencil rubbing had been
cleansed off. δ13C and δ15N values were compared between the three sample
groups. We found significant differences in values of both elements between
untreated and etched samples, with a mean increase of 0.2% in δ13C and δ15N
values in the etched samples. No significant differences were found between
etched samples with graphite rubbing versus those without it. Significant
linear regression models were calculated to predict untreated δ13C and δ15N
values from the values obtained in the etched half-sections with limited
We show for the first time that formic acid etching has a clear effect on
δ13C and δ15N values in sperm whale teeth dentine. The developed models
permit estimating untreated values from etched half-sections, thus enabling
the use of the latter in stable isotope analysis. However, as treatment
procedures may vary between studies, it is advisable that similar
predictive models are developed case-by-case to ensure comparability of

A PDF copy of the paper can be downloaded for free here:

Do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Laura Stukonytė
MSc Oceanography and Marine Environmental Management
University of Barcelona
laura.stukonyte at gmail.com
ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Laura-Stukonyte
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