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Acid washing effect on elemental and isotopic composition of whole beach arthropods: Implications for food web studies using stable isotopes

, : Acid washing effect on elemental and isotopic composition of whole beach arthropods: Implications for food web studies using stable isotopes. Acta Oecologica 34(1): 0-96

Inorganic carbon removal through acidification is a common practice prior to isotopic analysis of macroinvertebrate samples. We have experimentally tested the effect of acidification on the elemental and isotopic composition of a range of beach arthropod species. Acidification resulted in a significant depletion of 7.7% and 1.2% on average for carbon and nitrogen, respectively, suggesting that acid washing affects body carbon compounds other than carbonates. With a few exceptions, 13C and 15N showed no changes following 1 N HCl attack. Based on those exceptions, our results show that only those samples with a high CaCO3 content result in impoverished 13C as a consequence of acidification. Those suspected to be carbonate-free are not significantly affected. Concerning 15N values, only high carbonate species were affected when treated with HCl. As a standard protocol, it is recommended to acidify only carbonate-rich samples prior to 13C analyses. When possible, muscle tissue samples should be used instead of the entire organism.


DOI: 10.1016/j.actao.2008.04.002

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