Home > Explore Data & Reports > Environmental factors influencing d13C and d15N in three Chesapeake Bay fishes


Davias, L.A., M.S. Kornis, and D.L. Breitburg. 2014. Environmental factors influencing d13C and d15N in three Chesapeake Bay fishes. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 71:689-702. https://doi.org/10.1093/icesjms/fst143

Data/Report Type:

Sponsored Research


Stable isotope analysis has become a common tool for mapping trophic relationships, describing foodweb changes, and assessing ecosystem health. Clear interpretation of stable isotopes is facilitated by understanding how environmental factors can affect isotopic values; in estuarine systems, these factors may include salinity, land use, and shoreline habitat. To evaluate these factors, fish were collected from shallow-water habitats next to hardened (bulkhead and riprap) and unhardened (beach and marsh) shorelines within five subestuaries of the Chesapeake Bay that differed in predominant land use and salinity. This study focused on three common mid-Atlantic fish species: mummichog, Fundulus heteroclitus, Atlantic silverside, Menidia menidia, and white perch, Morone americana. Multiple regression analyses pointed to standard length, salinity, % of watershed as developed or crop land, and shoreline habitat type as important predictors for ?15N in all three species and for ?13C in mummichog and white perch. Further analysis controlling for the effects of salinity, land use, and fish size demonstrated that ?13C and ?15N were lower in tissues of fish collected next to marsh compared with hardened or beach habitat. Habitat effects were strongest for mummichog. This study focused on overarching patterns driving stable isotope signatures in fish; however, it also indicated potentially important interactions between nearshore habitat type and land use or salinity that deserve further analysis. Results have implications for the scale of isotope inquiry and give justification for more detailed follow-up studies of foodweb structure along modified and natural shorelines.

Note to readers with disabilities: Some scientific publications linked from this website may not conform to Section 508 accessibility standards due to the complexity of the information being presented. If you need assistance accessing this electronic content, please contact the lead/corresponding author, Primary Contact, or nccos.webcontent@noaa.gov.

Explore Similar Data/Reports


NCCOS delivers ecosystem science solutions for stewardship of the nation’s ocean and coastal resources to sustain thriving coastal communities and economies.

Stay Connected

Sign up for our quarterly newsletter or view our archives.

Follow us on Social

Listen to our Podcast

Check our our new podcast "Coastal Conversations"