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The interactive effect of temperature and humidity on the oxygen isotope composition of kangaroos

Murphy, B., Bowman, David and Gagan, M. (2007). The interactive effect of temperature and humidity on the oxygen isotope composition of kangaroos. Functional Ecology,21(4):757-766.

Document type: Journal Article
Citation counts: Scopus Citation Count Cited 11 times in Scopus Article | Citations

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IRMA ID A00004xPUB77
Title The interactive effect of temperature and humidity on the oxygen isotope composition of kangaroos
Author Murphy, B.
Bowman, David
Gagan, M.
Journal Name Functional Ecology
Publication Date 2007
Volume Number 21
Issue Number 4
ISSN 1365-2435   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
Scopus ID 2-s2.0-34447341151
Start Page 757
End Page 766
Total Pages 10
Place of Publication Oxford, UK
Publisher Blackwell Publishing
Field of Research 0602 - Ecology
HERDC Category C1 - Journal Article (DEST)
Abstract 1. A strong relationship between the oxygen isotope composition (expressed as delta O-18) of body water and relative humidity has been demonstrated for a number of mammalian herbivores with low drinking water requirements, including kangaroos. Consequently, it has been suggested that the oxygen isotope composition of preserved mammal remains may be used to reconstruct past relative humidity. Other physiological, environmental and ecological factors may also influence mammalian delta O-18, thereby confounding the climatic signal, yet these factors have been rigorously examined in few taxa. 2. We examined sources of variation in the delta O-18 of tooth enamel, assumed to reflect delta O-18 of body water, of kangaroos (Macropus spp.) collected throughout Australia. 3. Relative humidity explained a large proportion of the variation in enamel delta O-18, a finding that is consistent with previous studies. However, we also found a previously unreported interaction between mean annual temperature and relative humidity. At lower temperatures, the relationship between enamel delta O-18 and relative humidity was much steeper than at higher temperatures. 4. This may be a consequence of the Peclet effect in plant leaves, whereby high transpiration rates diminish the O-18 enrichment of bulk leaf water. It is likely that this interaction is also present in other herbivores with low drinking water requirements. 5. We found little evidence that delta O-18 varied consistently between molars, suggesting that a 'weaning effect' is either absent or swamped by seasonal variation in precipitation delta O-18. 6. We suggest that the oxygen isotope composition of preserved kangaroo remains cannot be used to reconstruct relative humidity unless ambient air temperature can be reliably estimated.
Keywords Australia
stable isotope
human tooth enamel
bone phosphate
african bovidae
claime change
C-4 GRASSESc-4 grasses
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