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Science In Depth:
We use stable isotope and fatty acid signature analyses to track eider diets during the pre-breeding and breeding season. As these techniques offer tools for retrospective tracking, we are able to use samples collected from birds at their arrival on arctic nesting grounds or even samples collected from eggs, and learn about diets for days or even weeks prior. The stable isotopes will provide information about the trophic level of prey and marine versus terrestrial diet sources, which is important for understanding where the eiders build key resources for successful breeding in the arctic. The fatty acid analysis provides another source of data to characterize diets and compare diet profiles among individuals and populations. We conduct these studies in collaboration with colleagues at USGS, UAF, Sedna Ecological, and Dalhousie University.