Stable isotope analysis is a common and extremely useful tool for studying aquatic ecosystems from single cells to whole ecosystems. Over 600 papers using stable isotope studies have been published in L&O over the past 60 years. These papers include studies using stable isotopes as tracers of biological, geochemical and ecosystem processes, food web analyses, and work tracking animal movement. In more recent years, rapid progress in stable isotope applications has led to new observations and perspectives of aquatic ecosystems. These recent developments led to the compilation of this virtual issue. It was an opportune time to synthesize past keystone studies and highlight new uses of stable isotopes. To complete this virtual issue, I asked four of the most cited L&O authors, P.M. Glibert, J.J. Middelburg, J.W. McClelland and M.J. Vander Zanden, to capture the history of stable isotope analysis for aquatic sciences and its future potential for limnological and oceanographic studies. Their review: “Stable isotope tracers: Enriching our perspectives and questions on sources, fates, rates, and pathways of major elements in aquatic systems” highlights a wide-ranging collection of stable isotope applications (find it here: https://aslopubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/lno.11087). This virtual issue contains 60 of our most influential papers in stable isotope analysis based on citation indicators but also from nominations by Glibert et al. We hope this resource will be helpful to researchers and educators interested in stable isotope applications in aquatic systems.
Marguerite A. Xenopoulos