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Biochemist -- Is isotope ratio unique for each trophic level?

  1. Jun 27, 2017 #1


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    As far as I know, the reaction velocity depends on the isotope ("kinetic isotope effect").

    So, is the isotope ratio (for example, for Nitrogen or Carbon isotopes) dependent on the trophic level?

    Thank you for your time.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 27, 2017 #2

    jim mcnamara

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    Staff: Mentor

    So, are you asking if (for example) 14C changes in abundance from primary producer to top of the food chain?
    If this is your question the answer is yes.

    Here is a discussion: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isotope_analysis
    which indicates that isotope ratios can be used in part to determine trophic level. The one weeny is that some producer organisms live long enough to allow 14C to decay - the reason for the 'in part' qualifier.

    Bristlecone pine for example, lives ±12000 years. 14C is sequestered more or less permanently in the xylem. ‎5,730 ± 40 years is the half life of 14C.

    Good question..
  4. Jun 29, 2017 #3


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    Wonderful, thank you!

    Good answer ;)

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