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Title: Stable isotope analyses of rock hyrax faecal pellets, hyraceum and associated vegetation in southern Africa: implications for dietary ecology and palaeoenvironmental reconstructions
Authors: Carr, Andrew S.
Chase, Brian M.
Boom, Arnoud
Medina-Sanchez, Javier
First Published: 6-Jul-2016
Publisher: Elsevier for Academic Press
Citation: Journal of Arid Environments,2016, 134, pp. 33 - 48
Abstract: Rock hyrax middens are important palaeoenvironmental archives in southern Africa. Carbon and nitrogen isotope measurements on middens (hyraceum) are key components of climate reconstructions, but their interpretations require refinement. Although δ15N in hyraceum often correlates with independent proxies for palaeo-aridity, the impacts of dietary and physiological controls on hyraceum δ15N remain to be resolved. We analyse δ13C and δ15N in plant foliage, hyrax faecal pellets and hyraceum from 21 sites across southern Africa. Faeces are generally depleted in 13C (δ13C typically < −20‰), suggesting significant browsing. Grazing is rarely dominant and probably occurs only when palatable grass is available. Variability in faecal and foliar δ15N is large, but foliar δ15N is positively correlated with faecal δ15N. The diet-faeces δ15N offset is uncorrelated with climate (aridity), but is correlated with %N in faeces. Faecal δ15N is positively correlated with modern hyraceum δ15N, and the relationships with aridity index for foliar and faecal (body tissue) δ15N are comparable. These observations implicate diet as a significant control on hyraceum δ15N and we observe no strong evidence for metabolic controls on hyraceum δ15N. More data are required to refine these relationships, but these observations are consistent with current palaeoenvironmental interpretations of midden δ15N and δ13C.
DOI Link: 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2016.06.013
ISSN: 0140-1963
eISSN: 1095-922X
Version: Post-print
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © Elsevier, 2016. This version of this article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives License ( ), which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.
Description: Following the embargo period the above license applies
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, Dept. of Geography

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