Interdecadal variation in seawater delta C-13 and delta O-18 recorded in fish otoliths Academic Article uri icon


  • Stable carbon (13C) and oxygen (18O) in the otolith cores of Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) vary temporally, with changes that quantitatively follow interdecadal variation in atmospheric and oceanic reservoirs. Both carbon and oxygen isotopic signatures vary significantly by year of birth over the range investigated (1947-2006), with 13C decreasing and 18O increasing (-2.56 10-2%0 and 4.3 10-3% 0 yr-1, respectively). The rate of change in otolith 13C was similar to reported rates of atmospheric 13C depletion, attributed to deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels (referred to as the Suess effect), suggesting a close link between atmospheric and oceanic carbon pools. Increases in otolith 18O were evident but less pronounced, with observed variation possibly attributable to changing salinity in the Atlantic Ocean. Otolith cores of bluefin tuna effectively track interdecadal trends and record past seawater 13C and 18O. 2009, by the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, Inc.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Schloesser, R. W., Rooker, J. R., Louchuoarn, P., Neilson, J. D., & Secor, D. H.

citation count

  • 22

complete list of authors

  • Schloesser, Ryan W||Rooker, Jay R||Louchuoarn, Patrick||Neilson, John D||Secor, David H

publication date

  • September 2009