Best practices for use of stable isotope mixing models in food-web studies.
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Stable isotope mixing models are increasingly used to quantify consumer diets, but may be misused and misinterpreted. We address major challenges to their effective application. Mixing models have increased rapidly in sophistication. Current models estimate probability distributions of source contributions, have user-friendly interfaces, and incorporate complexities such as variability in isotope signatures, discrimination factors, hierarchical variance structure, covariates, and concentration dependence. For proper implementation of mixing models, we offer the following suggestions. First, mixing models can only be as good as the study and data. Studies should have clear questions, be informed by knowledge of the system, and have strong sampling designs to effectively characterize isotope variability of consumers and resources on proper spatio-temporal scales. Second, studies should use models appropriate for the question and recognize their assumptions and limitations. Decisions abou.....
JournalCanadian Journal of Zoology
Essential Ocean Variables (EOV)stable carbon isotopes
Best Practice TypeBest Practice
CitationPhillips, D.L., Inger, R., Bearhop, S., Jackson, A.L. Moore, J.W., Parnell, A.C., Semmens, B.X. and Ward, E.J. (2014) Best practices for use of stable isotope mixing models in food-web studies. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 92, pp.823–835 . DOI:/10.1139/cjz-2014-0127