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Zinc isotopes from archaeological bones provide reliable trophic level information for marine mammals

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McCormack,  Jeremy
Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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Bourgon,  Nicolas       
Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;
The Leipzig School of Human Origins (IMPRS), Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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Hublin,  Jean-Jacques       
Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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Jaouen,  Klervia       
Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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McCormack_Zinc_CommBiol_2021.pdf
(Publisher version), 965KB

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Citation

McCormack, J., Szpak, P., Bourgon, N., Richards, M., Hyland, C., Méjean, P., et al. (2021). Zinc isotopes from archaeological bones provide reliable trophic level information for marine mammals. Communications Biology, 4(1): 683. doi:10.1038/s42003-021-02212-z.


Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0009-8226-9
Abstract
In marine ecology, dietary interpretations of faunal assemblages often rely on nitrogen isotopes as the main or only applicable trophic level tracer. We investigate the geographic variability and trophic level isotopic discrimination factors of bone zinc 66Zn/64Zn ratios (δ66Zn value) and compared it to collagen nitrogen and carbon stable isotope (δ15N and δ13C) values. Focusing on ringed seals (Pusa hispida) and polar bears (Ursus maritimus) from multiple Arctic archaeological sites, we investigate trophic interactions between predator and prey over a broad geographic area. All proxies show variability among sites, influenced by the regional food web baselines. However, δ66Zn shows a significantly higher homogeneity among different sites. We observe a clear trophic spacing for δ15N and δ66Zn values in all locations, yet δ66Zn analysis allows a more direct dietary comparability between spatially and temporally distinct locations than what is possible by δ15N and δ13C analysis alone. When combining all three proxies, a more detailed and refined dietary analysis is possible.