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Seasonal variation in kangaroo tooth enamel oxygen and carbon isotopes in southern Australia

  • Tom H. Brookman (a1) and Stanley H. Ambrose (a2)
Abstract
Abstract

Serial sampling of tooth enamel growth increments for carbon and oxygen isotopic analyses of Macropus (kangaroo) teeth was performed to assess the potential for reconstructing paleoseasonality. The carbon isotope composition of tooth enamel apatite carbonate reflects the proportional intake of C3 and C4 vegetation. The oxygen isotopic composition of enamel reflects that of ingested and metabolic water. Tooth enamel forms sequentially from the tip of the crown to the base, so dietary and environmental changes during the tooth's formation can be detected. δ13C and δ18O values were determined for a series of enamel samples drilled from the 3rd and 4th molars of kangaroos that were collected along a 900 km north–south transect in southern Australia. The serial sampling method did not yield pronounced seasonal isotopic variation patterns in Macropus enamel. The full extent of dietary isotopic variation may be obscured by attenuation of the isotopic signal during enamel mineralisation. Brachydont (low-crowned) Macropus teeth may be less sensitive to seasonal variation in isotopic composition due to time-averaging during mineralisation. However, geographic variations observed suggest that there may be potential for tracking latitudinal shifts in vegetation zones and seasonal environmental patterns in response to climate change.

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Corresponding author
Corresponding author at: Department of Geological Sciences, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand. Fax: + 64 33642769. Email Address: tom.brookman@pg.canterbury.ac.nz
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