Stable Isotope Ecology Lab

The Stable Isotope Ecology Lab provides methods and study design assistance for research involving stable isotopes in animal ecology.  Although we do not have a mass spectrometer in our lab, we have space and knowledge of protocols to prepare samples for measurement of stable isotopes.  As the need to understand response of organisms to climate change, changing landscape management priorities, trophic interactions in response to invasive species, and disease epidemiology continues, our ability to assess these responses are often hindered by logistics of studying an adequate number of research organisms.  Researchers are constantly exploring the most logistically and economically efficient methods to obtain research objectives.  Use of stable isotopes in ecological research has provided numerous benefits for non-invasive sampling wildlife species or maximizing knowledge gained from harvested or captured individuals.  Stable isotopes have been used to identify nutrition, dietary selection, migration, and natal origin for a variety of taxa.

Our Stable Isotope Ecology Laboratory has provided researchers with a variety of methods to explore ecology of various organisms.  We provide methods for researchers to follow to: select the proper tissue to represent the appropriate temporal scale desired for stable isotope research, select the proper isotope (e.g., carbon, nitrogen) based on objectives of research, and protocols to process a variety of samples such as feces, tissue, or integument.  We have used stable isotopes to determine effects of anthropogenic activity on organisms, identify subpopulation differences among similar species occupying disparate landscapes, or assign individuals to the most likely landscape of origin.  As logistics and funding often limit our ability to achieve research objectives, stable isotopes can provide information on organisms at the regional scale that would not be possible with various invasive monitoring protocols (e.g., capturing and marking).