Natural geochemical markers reveal environmental history and population connectivity of common cuttlefish in the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea Academic Article uri icon


  • Natural markers (δ 13 C and δ 18 O stable isotopes) in the cuttlebones of the European common cuttlefish ( Sepia officinalis ) were determined for individuals collected across a substantial portion of their range in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean (NEAO) and Mediterranean Sea. Cuttlebone δ 13 C and δ 18 O were quantified for core and edge material to characterize geochemical signatures associated with early (juvenile) and recent (sub-adult/adult) life-history periods, respectively. Regional shifts in cuttlebone δ 13 C and δ 18 O values were detected across the 12 sites investigated. Individuals collected from sites in the NEAO displayed more enriched δ 13 C and δ 18 O values relative to sites in the Mediterranean Sea, with the latter also showing salient differences in both markers among western, central and eastern collection areas. Classification success based on cuttlebone δ 13 C and δ 18 O values to four geographical regions (NEAO, western, central and eastern Mediterranean Sea) was relatively high, suggesting that environmental conditions in each region were distinct and produced area-specific geochemical signatures on the cuttlebones of S. officinalis . A modified δ 13 C and δ 18 O baseline was developed from sites proximal to the Strait of Gibraltar in both the NEAO and Mediterranean Sea to assess potential mixing through this corridor. Nearly, all (95%) of δ 13 C and δ 18 O signatures of S. officinalis collected in the area of the NEAO closest to the Strait of Gibraltar (Gulf of Cadiz) matched the signatures of specimens collected in the western Mediterranean, signifying potential movement and mixing of individuals through this passageway. This study extends the current application of these geochemical markers for assessing the natal origin and population connectivity of this species and potentially other taxa that inhabit this geographical area.

published proceedings

  • Journal of The Royal Society Interface

altmetric score

  • 2.1

author list (cited authors)

  • Rooker, J. R., Wells, R., Addis, P., Arrizabalaga, H., Baptista, M., Bearzi, G., ... Villanueva, R.

citation count

  • 2

complete list of authors

  • Rooker, Jay R||Wells, RJ David||Addis, Piero||Arrizabalaga, Haritz||Baptista, Miguel||Bearzi, Giovanni||Dance, Michael A||Fraile, Igaratza||Lacoue-Labarthe, Thomas||Lee, Jessica M||Megalofonou, Persefoni||Rosa, Rui||Sobrino, Ignacio||Sykes, António V||Villanueva, Roger

publication date

  • July 2020