Post Lab Research: Stable Isotopes

Stable isotopes have become an indispensable tool for ecologists, anthropologists, paleontologists and evolutionary biologists. Stable isotope techniques are used to trace the migration of organisms and the flow of water and nutrients through organisms and ecosystems.  They can be used to reconstruct the diet and trophic position of animals, evaluate trophic structure of entire ecosystems and explore niche differentiation among individuals, populations, and communities. The Post Lab both uses and develops new stable isotope techniques. David Post’s work on the models, methods, and assumptions required to estimate trophic position (Post 2002) is central to modern work on food chain length (Post et al. 2000, Takimoto et al. 2008, Walters and Post 2008, Sabo et al. 2010, Takimoto and Post 2013) as well as research across ecology, anthropology, and paleontology. The Post Lab has also addressed the importance of considering variation in lipid content for studies using stable carbon isotopes (Post et al. 2007), the use of tissue plugs for isotope analysis in fish (Schielke and Post 2010), and the use of isotopes to provide community-wide estimates of food web structure and niche differentiation (Layman et al. 2007, Layman and Post 2008). Other papers have reviewed the analytical tools used in applying stable isotopes in food web studies (Layman et al. 2012) and addressed the problems of applying stable isotopes to infer trophic position of fissile animals (Casey and Post 2011).

Related publications ( Post Lab publications ):

Layman, C.A., M.S. Araujo, R. Boucek, C.M. Hammerschlag-Peyer, E. Harrison, Z.R. Jud, P. Matich, A.E. Rosenblatt, J. Vaudo, L.A. Yeager, D.M. Post, and S. Bearhop. 2012. Applying stable isotopes to examine food web structure: an overview of analytical tools. Biological Reviews 87:545-562. doi:10.1111/j.1469-185X.2011.00208.x

Casey, M.M., and D.M. Post. 2011. The problem of isotopic baseline: reconstructing the diet and trophic position of fossil animals. Earth-Science Reviews 106:131-148. doi:10.1016/j.earscirev.2011.02.001

Schielke, E.G., and D.M. Post. 2010. Size matters: comparing stable isotope ratios of tissue plugs and whole organisms. Limnology and Oceanography Methods 8:348-351. doi: 10.4319/lom.2010.8.348

Layman, C.A., and D.M. Post. 2008. Can stable isotope ratios provide for community-wide measures of trophic structure?: Reply. Ecology 89:2358-2359.

Layman, C.A., D.A. Arrington , C.G. Montaña and D.M. Post. 2007. Can stable isotope ratios provide for community-wide measures of trophic structure? Ecology 88:42-48.

Post, D.M., D.A. Arrington , C.A. Layman, G. Takimoto , J. Quattrochi , and C. G. Montaña. 2007. Getting to the fat of the matter: models, methods and assumptions for dealing with lipids in stable isotope analyses. Oecologia 152:179-189.

Post, D.M. 2002. Using stable isotopes to estimate trophic position: models, methods, and assumptions. Ecology 83:703-718.