TESTING THE FIDELITY OF ENAMEL ISOTOPIC, ENVIRONMENTAL AND CLIMATIC VARIATION IN A LOCALIZED POPULATION OF WHITE-TAILED DEER (ODOCOILEUS VIRGINIANUS)
Stable isotopes from tooth enamel have long been used to gain better insight into modern and ancient environmental dynamics. Carbon isotopes are used to determine the ratio of 13C/12C within tooth enamel and can be used to infer the relative proportion of C3 (e.g., trees, shrubs, cool growing season grasses) and C4 (e.g., warm growing season grasses and sedges) plants consumed by the animal during the time period of the tooth’s mineralization. Oxygen isotopes are used to determine the ratio of 18O/16O consumed, typically in the form of drinking water or water contained in plant tissues, by the animal during tooth mineralization. Due to this relationship, oxygen isotopes can be used to infer whether the animal lived in a more evaporative (i.e., warm, decreased rainfall) or less evaporative (i.e., cool, more rainfall) environment. Although a commonly used method, there is currently a lack of modern comparative frameworks testing the precision of these relationships. In this study, we sampled three molars (m1, m2, and m3) from 6 individual male deer (18 teeth total) of known age and life history collected from the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge (PNWR). These teeth were serially sampled (multiple samples along the growth axis of the tooth) to elucidate any isotopic variation between individuals and between molars. These isotopic signatures were compared to climate data (e.g., temperature, precipitation) gathered from around PNWR during the time of tooth mineralization. Our study indicates a complex relationship between climatic variables and their reflection in the isotopic composition of deer enamel. We observe significant inter-individual variation in isotopic signature, which suggests a complex relationship between climate variables and the universality of their representation in mammalian enamel.
UNG dept. of Biology
Malasek, Taylor; Barding, Erin; Bender, Michael; Mead, Alfred J.; Pilgrim, Zachary; McManus, Julia; Bish, Charles; Powers, Patrick; Patterson, Jessica; and Patterson, David
"TESTING THE FIDELITY OF ENAMEL ISOTOPIC, ENVIRONMENTAL AND CLIMATIC VARIATION IN A LOCALIZED POPULATION OF WHITE-TAILED DEER (ODOCOILEUS VIRGINIANUS),"
Georgia Journal of Science, Vol. 79, No. 1, Article 50.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.gaacademy.org/gjs/vol79/iss1/50