Converting isotope values to diet composition: the use of mixing models

Philips, D. L.

A common use of stable isotope analysis in mammalogy is to make inferences about diet from isotope values (typically C13 and N15) measured in tissues and food sources of a consumer. Mathematical mixing models are used to estimate the proportional contributions of food sources to the isotopic composition of the tissues of a consumer, which reflect the assimilated diet. This paper reviews basic mixing models and how they work; additional refinements also are described that include addressing uncertainty, larger numbers of sources, combining sources, concentration effects, and Bayesian statistical frameworks. Information is provided on where to access software for the various models. Numerous examples are cited to show application of these models in the mammal research literature.

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Philips, D. L.. 2012. Converting isotope values to diet composition: the use of mixing models. Journal of Mammalogy 93(2):342-352.