Reporting stable-isotope ratios in ecology: Recommended terminology, guidelines and best practices

Alexander L. Bond, Keith A. Hobson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

135 Citations (Scopus)


The application of stable-isotope analysis (SIA) in ecology has increased exponentially in the last 20 years. As with any novel field of inquiry, there has been inconsistent (and sometimes confusing) use of terminology and great variation in how the results of SIA are presented in the scientific literature. Recently, guidelines and recommendations for the consistent use of terminology, the expression of results, and presentation of symbols were prepared and published at the request of the Commission on Isotopic Abundances and Atomic Weights (CIAAW) of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC). Here, key components of the CIAAW recommendations pertinent to ecologists are summarized, along with suggestions for best practices in reporting results of SIA not covered by the CIAAW guidelines. A set of universally adopted and consistently used terminology and practices will minimize ambiguity, especially in the overlap of different fields, such as analytical chemistry and ecology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)324-331
Number of pages8
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2012


  • guidelines
  • reference material
  • stable isotopes
  • terminology


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