Stable isotope analysis

Stable isotopes are increasingly being used as tracers for dietary habits (mostly carbon; 13C/12C), trophic positions (nitrogen; 15N/14N) and migratory movements (hydrogen and oxygen; 2H/1H and 18O/16O) of animals. The stable isotope laboratory at the IZW is equipped with state-of-the-art isotope ratio mass spectrometers (Delta V Advantage, Thermo) connected to a peripheral elemental analyser (Hekatech-Elemental analyser, Flash EA from Thermo and TC-EA from Thermo) to measure these elements in any organic tissue (C, N, H and O), gas (C, H and O) and liquid (H and O). Depending on whether or not the matrix has natural enrichments or whether it is artificially enriched, we provide measurements in the delta-notation (in relation to an international standard) or in atom percent. Turnaround times are quite fast for standard material such as plant or animal tissues (usually less than 1 month).

Depending on the enrichment of CNH in your sample, we need a sample volume of 0.4 to 1.5 mg. You may either send us the raw material or you may prepare your samples for stable isotope analyses using our facilities.


PD Dr. Christian Voigt

Phone: 0049 (0) 30 5168 517

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Selected publications

Migratory connectivity

Voigt CC, Popa-Lisseanu A, Niermann I, Kramer-Schadt S (2012) The catchment area of wind farms for European bats: A plea for international regulations. Biological Conservation 153: 80–86.

Bairlein F, Norris DR, Nagel R, Bulte M, Voigt CC, Fox JW, Jussel D, Schmaljohann H (2012) Cross-hemisphere migration of a 25-gram songbird. Biology Letters 8: 505-507.

Popa-Lisseanu AG, Soergel K, Luckner A, Wassenaar LI, Ibáñez C, Ciechanowski M, Görföl T, Niermann I, Beuneux G, Myslajek R, Juste J, Fonderflick J, Kramer-Schadt S, Kelm DH, Voigt CC (2012) A triple isotope approach to predict breeding origins of European bats. PLoS ONE 7: e38083.

Erzberger A, Popa-Lisseanu AG, Lehmann GUC, Voigt CC (2011) Potential and limits in detecting altitudinal movements of bats using stable hydrogen isotope ratios of fur keratin. Acta Chiropterologica 13: 431-438.

Quillfeldt P, Voigt CC, MaselloJF (2010) Plasticity versus repeatability in seabird migratory behaviour. Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology 64: 1157-1164.

Dietary studies

Voigt CC, Voigt-Heucke SL, Kretzschmar A (2012) Isotopic evidence for seed transfer from successional area into forests by short-tailed fruit bats (genus Carollia; Phyllostomidae). Journal of Tropical Ecology 28: 181-186.

Voigt CC, Voigt-Heucke S, Schneeberger K (2012) Isotopic data do not support food sharing within large networks of female vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus). Ethology 118: 260-268.

Dehnhard N, Voigt CC, Poisbleau M,Demongin L, Quillfeldt P (2011) Stable isotopes in southern rockhopper penguins: foraging areas and sexual differences in the non-breeding period. Polar Biology 11: 1763-1773.

Rex K, Michener R, Kunz TH, Voigt CC (2011) Vertical stratification of Neotropical leaf-nosed bats (Phyllostomidae: Chiroptera) revealed by stable carbon isotopes. Journal of Tropical Ecology 27: 211-222.

Masello JF, Mundry R, Poisbleau M, Demongin L, Voigt CC, Wikelski M, Quillfeldt P (2010) Diving seabirds share space and time: Inter- and intra-specific segregation. Ecosphere 1: article 19.

Amitai O, Amichai E, Holtze S, Barkan S, Korine C, Pinshow B, Voigt CC (2010) Fruit bats (Pteropodidae) fuel their metabolism rapidly and directly with exogenous sugars. Journal of Experimental Biology 213: 2693-2699.

Voigt CC, Sörgel K, Dechmann DKN (2010) Refuelling while flying: Foraging bats combust food rapidly and directly to fuel flight. Ecology 91: 2908-2917.

Metabolic studies

Voigt CC, Holderied MW (2012) High maneuvering costs force narrow-winged molossid bats to forage in open space. Journal of Comparative Physiology B 182: 415-424.

Voigt CC, Schneeberger K, Voigt-Heucke SL, Lewanzik D (2011) Rain increases the energy cost of bat flight. Biol Lett 7: 793-795.

Voigt CC, Lewanzik D (2011) Trapped in the darkness of the night: Thermal and energetic constraints of daylight flight in bats. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London: Biological Sciences 278: 2311-2317.

Hambly C, Voigt CC (2011) Measuring energy expenditure in birds using bolus injections of 13C labelled Na-bicarbonate. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology A 158: 323-328.

Trophic studies

Siemers BM, Greif S, Borissov I, Voigt-Heucke SL, Voigt CC (2011) Divergent trophic levels in two cryptic sibling bat species. Oecologia 166: 69-78.

Voigt CC, Zubaid A, Kunz TH, Kingston T (2011) Sources of assimilated proteins in Old and New World phytophagous bats. Biotropica 43: 108-113.

Rex K, Czaczkes BI, Michener R, Kunz TH, Voigt CC (2010) Specialisation and omnivory in diverse mammalian assemblages. Ecoscience 17: 37-46.