Teeth of odontocetes accumulate annual dentinal growth layer groups (GLGs) that record isotope ratios, which reflect the time of their synthesis. Collectively, they provide lifetime records of individual feeding patterns from which life history traits can be inferred. We subsampled the prenatal dentin and postnatal GLGs in Risso’s dolphins (Grampus griseus) (n = 65) that stranded or were collected as bycatch in Taiwan (1994–2014) and analyzed them for δ15N and δ13C. Age-specific δ15N and δ13C values were corrected for effects of calendar year, stranding site, C/N, and sex. δ15N values were higher in prenatal layers (14.94‰ ± 0.74‰) than in adult female GLGs (12.58‰ ± 0.20‰), suggesting fetal enrichment during gestation. Decreasing δ15N values in early GLGs suggested changes in dietary protein sources during transition to complete weaning. Weaning age was earlier in males (1.09 yr) than in females (1.81 yr). Significant differences in δ15N values between weaned males and females suggest potential sexual segregation in feeding habits. δ13C values increased from the prenatal to the 4th GLG by ~1.0‰, indicative of a diet shift from 13C-depleted milk to prey items. Our results provide novel insights into the sex-specific ontogenetic changes in feeding patterns and some life history traits of Risso’s dolphins.
Annual variability in dentin δ15N and δ13C reveal sex differences in weaning age and feeding habits in Risso’s dolphins (Grampus griseus)
Feb 9 2017