Data from: Quantifying terrestrial carbon in freshwater food webs using amino acid isotope analysis—case study with an endemic cave fish
Liew, Jia Huan et al. (2019), Data from: Quantifying terrestrial carbon in freshwater food webs using amino acid isotope analysis—case study with an endemic cave fish, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.7gc968r
1.Flow of terrestrial carbon though aquatic ecosystems (allochthony) is an important but underestimated component of the global carbon cycle. A lack of clear consensus about the importance of allochtonous (terrestrial) organic carbon is sometimes attributed to uncertainties associated with conventional ‘bulk’ isotope data, the most widely used ecological tracer. 2.Amino acid‐specific isotope analysis is an emerging research method promising to address existing limitations of bulk C and N isotope analyses. We tested the efficacy of amino acid δ13C data as a generalisable measure of allochthony by analysing an aggregated dataset (n=168) of primary and secondary data of carbon sources from disparate geographical locations across the globe. 3.We found the δ13C fingerprints amino acids to be consistently distinct between allochthonous (terrestrial) and autochthonous (aquatic) carbon sources. We also found that our approach is most effective when we use only essential amino acid tracers (i.e., isoleucine, leucine, phenylalanine, threonine, and valine). Predictive trends in δ13C fingerprints appear to be largely compatible across studies and/or laboratories. 4.As a case study, we used this approach to quantify the contribution of terrestrial carbon to an endemic cave fish, Cryptotora thamicola, and found that its biomass was comprised largely of autochthonous carbon (~75%).