Stable isotope analysis is a common and extremely useful tool for studying aquatic life from single cells to whole ecosystems. Over 600 papers using stable isotope studies have been published in the journal Limnology and Oceanography (L&O) over the past 60 years. These papers include studies using stable isotopes as tracers of biological, geochemical and ecosystem processes, food webs, and animal movement. In more recent years, rapid progress in the use of stable isotope applications has led to new observations and perspectives of aquatic ecosystems.
These recent developments led to the compilation of a virtual L&O issue to synthesize past keystone studies and highlight new uses of stable isotopes. Four of the most cited authors in L&O, including biogeochemist and UTMSI professor Jim McClelland, were asked to write a review article to capture the history of stable isotope analysis for aquatic sciences and its future potential for limnological and oceanographic studies. Patricia Glibert led the review and was joined by Jim McClelland, Jack Middelburg and M. Jake Vander Zanden.
Their review “Stable isotope tracers: Enriching our perspectives and questions on sources, fates, rates, and pathways of major elements in aquatic systems” highlights a wide-ranging collection of stable isotope applications.
This above content contains excerpts from L&O Deputy Editor-in-Chief Marguerite A. Xenopoulos.