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Stable Carbon isotope compositions of Eastern Beringian grasses and sedges: investigating their potential as paleoenvironmental indicators

Wooller, M.J., Zazula, G.D., Edwards, M.E., Froese, D.G., Boone, R.D., Parker, C. and Bennett, B. (2007) Stable Carbon isotope compositions of Eastern Beringian grasses and sedges: investigating their potential as paleoenvironmental indicators Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research, 39, (2), pp. 318-331.

Record type: Article


The nature of vegetation cover present in Beringia during the last glaciation remains unclear. Uncertainty rests partly with the limitations of conventional paleoecological methods. A lack of sufficient taxonomic resolution most notably associated with the grasses and sedges restricts the paleoecological inferences that can be made. Stable isotope measurements of subfossil plants are frequently used to enhance paleoenvironmental reconstructions. We present an investigation of the stable carbon isotope composition (d13C) of modern and subfossil grasses and sedges (graminoids) from Eastern Beringia. Modern grasses from wet habitats had a mean d13C of 229.1% (standard deviation [SD] 5 2.1%, n 5 75), while those from dry habitats had a mean of 226.9% (SD 5 1.19, n 5 27). Sedges (n 5 ,50) from dry, wet, marsh, and sand dune habitats had specific habitat ranges. Four modern C4 grasses had d13C values typical of C4 plants. Analyses were also conducted using subfossil graminoid remains from several sedimentary paleoecological contexts (e.g.,arctic ground squirrel nests, loess, permafrost, and paleosols) in Eastern Beringia. Results from these subfossil samples, ranging in age from .40,000 to ca. 11,000 cal. yr BP, illustrate that the d13C of graminoid remains has altered during the past. The range of variation in the subfossil samples is within the range from modern graminoid specimens from dry and wet habitats. The results indicate that stable isotopes could contribute to a comprehensive and multiproxy reconstruction of Beringian paleoenvironments.

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Published date: May 2007


Local EPrints ID: 55247
ISSN: 1523-0430
PURE UUID: 701f15a1-2669-4f21-a467-17c65ab47254
ORCID for M.E. Edwards: ORCID iD

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Date deposited: 01 Aug 2008
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 14:33

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Author: M.J. Wooller
Author: G.D. Zazula
Author: M.E. Edwards ORCID iD
Author: D.G. Froese
Author: R.D. Boone
Author: C. Parker
Author: B. Bennett

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