Combined compound-specific stable carbon isotopic methods and fatty acid abundance determinations have been used to examine feeding preferences and C allocation in organisms where direct observation of feeding is difficult. In order to examine the effect of differing diets on the [delta]13C values of fatty acids and sterols of Collembola, the diets of two collembolan species, Folsomia candida and Proisotoma minuta, were switched from a yeast diet to one of four isotopically distinct diets, and the [delta]13C values of the lipids monitored over the next 39 d. Cholesterol remained the only sterol detected in both collembolan species, despite the diets containing widely differing sterol compositions. The [delta]13C values of collembolan lipids recorded after long term feeding were often different to those of the same components in the diet, indicating that fractionation or partitioning occurs during digestion, assimilation and biosynthesis within the Collembola, thereby shifting consumer lipid [delta]13C values away from those of the corresponding dietary components. The rates of change of [delta]13C values differed among compounds, with half-lives ranging between 29 min and 14 d. Some of these differences appear to be related to the abundance of dietary components, such that fatty acids present in high abundance in the diet (e.g. 18:2(n-6)) were rapidly assimilated in high proportions into collembolan lipids, leading to a rapid change in [delta]13C values. Similarly, isotopic turnover in the 16:1(n-7) fatty acid, present in the newly presented diets in only low abundances, was significantly correlated to the rate of removal of this component from the consumer fatty acid pool. The rates of change of [delta]13C values in P. minuta lipids did not vary significantly with diet, whilst the rates of change of [delta]13C values of lipids in F. candida were affected by the diets the Collembola consumed. Results of an experiment providing F. candida and P. minuta with two diets of different quality demonstrated that F. candida responded to the high quality diet with increased growth and fecundity, whilst P. minuta responded with increased fecundity only. Thus, the abilities of the two species to respond to diets of varying quality, amongst other factors, is concluded to lead to differences in the rates of change of [delta]13C values reflecting differences in lipid turnover.
Bibliographical notePublisher: Elsevier
Chamberlain, PM., Bull, ID., Black, HIJ., Ineson, P., & Evershed, RP. (2006). The effect of diet on isotopic turnover in Collembola examined using the stable carbon isotopic compositions of lipids. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 38 (5), 1146 - 1157. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.soilbio.2005.09.015