, Volume 69, Issue 3, pp 395–406

The isotopic ecology of East African mammals

  • Stanley H. Ambrose
  • Michael J. DeNiro
Original Papers

DOI: 10.1007/BF00377062

Cite this article as:
Ambrose, S.H. & DeNiro, M.J. Oecologia (1986) 69: 395. doi:10.1007/BF00377062


The stable carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios of bone collagen have been used to trace diet and habitat selection of the larger mammals of East Africa. 238 individuals of 43 species from montane forests and grasslands in Kenya and Tanzania have been analyzed. The results show that carbon isotopes discriminate between (1) grazers and browsers in savanna grasslands, (2) forest floor and savanna grassland herbivores and (3) forest floor and forest canopy species. Nitrogen isotopes discriminate between (4) carnivores and herbivores, (5) forest and savanna grassland herbivores, and (6) water-dependent and drought-tolerant herbivores. This technique provides a quantitative approach to assessing long-term habitat and diet selection and the role of resource partitioning in animal community structure.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stanley H. Ambrose
    • 1
  • Michael J. DeNiro
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Earth and Space SciencesUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of IllinoisUrbanaUSA

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