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I have come across studies that have used stable isotope values from seal/sea lion whiskers to infer foraging ecology. However, I am also aware that whiskers can fall off and then grow back. Is there a way to determine the age of a specific whisker, to verify the timeline stable isotope samples represent? E.g. if a sample is taken every x mm that correlates to the foraging ecology y years ago.

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    $\begingroup$ theforestecologist might have a great answer for this. For me, one wait is to feed harmless radioisotope carbons during a specific observation time. If you can regress one way to another the rate of whisker growth, then I would be probably feasible $\endgroup$
    – cc12amu
    Commented May 3, 2022 at 20:49
  • $\begingroup$ Whiskers have very similar science to other hair follicles. You need to specifiy the types of whiskers, rat, seal or tiger whiskers? $\endgroup$ Commented May 8, 2022 at 9:08

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I expect that vibrissae growth rate would depend on the species, the type of vibrissae, time of year, etc. One paper that comes to mind is Zhao & Schell 2004, which estimated growth patterns of harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) using labeled tracers: https://www.int-res.com/abstracts/meps/v281/p267-273/. I am sure there are other papers that have studied pinniped vibrissae growth rates. I recommend a more specific search using Google Scholar.

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