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Carbon isotope signatures from land snail shells: Implications for palaeovegetation reconstruction in the eastern Mediterranean

Prendergast, AL and Stevens, RE and Hill, EA and Barker, GW and Hunt, CO and O'Connell, TC (2015) Carbon isotope signatures from land snail shells: Implications for palaeovegetation reconstruction in the eastern Mediterranean. Quaternary International. ISSN 1040-6182

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Abstract

In this studywecompare carbon isotope values inmodern Helix melanostoma shell carbonate (d13Cshell) from the Gebel al-Akhdar region of Libya with carbon isotope values in H. melanostomabody tissue (d13Cbody), local vegetation (d13Cplant) and soil (d13Csoil). All vegetation in the study area followed the C3 photosynthetic pathway. However, the d13Cplant values of different species formed two distinct isotopic groups. This can be best explained by different water use efficiencies with arid adapted species having significantly more positive d13Cplant values than less water efficient species. The ranges and means of d13Cbody and d13Cplant were statistically indistinguishable from one another suggesting that d13Cbody was primarily a function of local vegetation composition. H. melanostoma d13Cshell reflected the d13Cplant of local vegetation with a positive offset between body/diet and shell of 14.5± 1.4‰. Therefore, in the Gebel al-Akhdar where only C3 plants are present, highermeand13C shell values likely reflect greater abundances ofwater-efficientC3 plants in the snails diet and therefore in the landscape, whilst lower mean d13Cshell values likely reflect the consumption of less water-efficient C3 plants. The distribution of these plants is in turn affected by environmental factors such as rainfall. These findings can be applied to archaeological and geological shell deposits to reconstruct late Pleistocene to Holocene vegetation change in the southeast Mediterranean.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Stable isotopes; Palaeoenvironment; Palaeoclimate; Terrestrial gastropod; Gebel al-Akhdar
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history
Divisions: Natural Sciences and Psychology
Publisher: Elsevier
Date Deposited: 16 Jul 2015 09:28
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2016 00:50
DOI or Identification number: 10.1016/j.quaint.2014.12.053
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/1603

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