Some Problems and Potentials of Strontium Isotope Analysis for Human and Animal Ecology

  • J. E. Ericson
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 68)


Strontium isotopes can be used as biogeochemical tracers in the study of human and animal ecology. Strontium isotopes are characteristic of the local geology, and they pass through the food chain with significant fractionation. The local geology can be characterized by strontium isotope analysis (reported as a simple ratio of isotope abundances) of the soils and plants that form the catchment or home range of the species under study. Soil (Dasch 1969) and plants (Hurst and Davis 1981) are in isotopic equilibrium with local source rock and share similar isotopic ratios for strontium. Dietary strontium is incorporated in tissues and stored for different periods of time depending on the strontium turnover rates of the specific tissues. Accordingly, strontium isotope analysis of permanent teeth, gut contents, and muscle and bone tissues, all having different turnover rates, may provide important data in studying animal migration and local movement, particularly if animals move between regions with heterogeneous geology.


Home Range Tooth Enamel Strontium Isotope Strontium Isotope Ratio Golden Plover 
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© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1989

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  • J. E. Ericson

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