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Intra-tooth oxygen isotope variation in a known population of red deer: Implications for past climate and seasonality reconstructions

Stevens, RE; Balasse, M; O'Connell, TC; (2011) Intra-tooth oxygen isotope variation in a known population of red deer: Implications for past climate and seasonality reconstructions. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology , 301 (1-4) pp. 64-74. 10.1016/j.palaeo.2010.12.021.

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Abstract

Over the last decade oxygen isotopes from herbivore teeth have frequently been used as a proxy for palaeoclimatic conditions, yet our knowledge of how accurately the isotope signatures of an animal reflect seasonal climatic fluctuations remains limited. Our study on modern red deer from a known location aimed to assess the degree to which seasonal climate changes are reflected in red deer teeth. Our analyses of sequential sub-samples from red deer second and third molars showed that enamel carbonate δ 18 O values vary within teeth and that the pattern of intra-tooth isotopic variation broadly corresponds to that observed in precipitation δ 18 O over an annual cycle. The pattern of intra-tooth isotopic variation and absolute values are similar for individuals born in the same year. As the population range in intra-tooth δ 18 O values closely matches that estimated for the local precipitation and the calculated range in temperature corresponds with that recorded on the Isle of Rum, we conclude that red deer intra-tooth oxygen isotope signatures are a good palaeoclimate and seasonality proxy. In addition, all deer have recorded the lowest δ 18 O of the cycle (winter minimum) in the same location of the M3 crown, demonstrating the potential utility of this sampling protocol to infer birth seasonality in red deer. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.

Type: Article
Title: Intra-tooth oxygen isotope variation in a known population of red deer: Implications for past climate and seasonality reconstructions
DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2010.12.021
UCL classification: UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences
UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Institute of Archaeology
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URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1463257
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