Natural trophic variability in a large, oligotrophic, near-pristine lake

Talia Young, Olaf P. Jensen, Brian C. Weidel, Sudeep Chandra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Conclusions drawn from stable isotope data can be limited by an incomplete understanding of natural isotopic variability over time and space. We quantified spatial and temporal variability in fish carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes in Lake Hövsgöl, Mongolia, a large, remote, oligotrophic lake with an unusually species-poor fish community. The fish community demonstrated a high degree of trophic level overlap. Variability in δ13C was inversely related to littoral-benthic dependence, with pelagic species demonstrating more δ13C variability than littoral-benthic species. A mixed effects model suggested that space (sampling location) had a greater impact than time (collection year) on both δ13C and δ15N variability. The observed variability in Lake Hövsgöl was generally greater than isotopic variability documented in other large, oligotrophic lakes, similar to isotopic shifts attributed to introduced species, and less than isotopic shifts attributed to anthropogenic chemical changes such as eutrophication. This work complements studies on isotopic variability and changes in other lakes around the world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)463-472
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Great Lakes Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology


  • Lake Hovsgol
  • Lake Khovsgol
  • Littoral-benthic
  • Mongolia
  • Pristine
  • Stable isotope variability


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