Can ancient insect exoskeleton δ¹³C values be used to infer past vegetation types?

Cantwell-Jones, Aoife, Wurster, Chris, Zwart, Costijn, and Bird, Michael (2020) Can ancient insect exoskeleton δ¹³C values be used to infer past vegetation types? Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 555. 109857.

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Insects encode proxy environmental information about regional vegetation structure in the stable carbon isotope (δ13C) composition of their tissues. However, uncertainty lies in the exact relationship between “community” insect δ13C values and the overall structure of the vegetation from which the insects come, specifically the cover of C3 and C4 plants. This study aimed to determine this relationship using modern samples of insects collected from sites ranging from rain forest (high C3 cover) to savanna (high C4 cover) across an environmental gradient in tropical Australia. Insect δ13C values were strongly related to modern variations in C3 and C4 cover, although difficulties arose when estimating the vegetation structure of sites with low vegetation cover in arid central Australia. We further found the best models for predicting vegetation structure also included additional constraints provided by variation in precipitation. Overall, our results confirm that ancient insect δ13C values, such as those recovered from insectivorous bat and bird guano deposits, can indeed provide a robust palaeoenvironmental proxy for inferring the trajectory of past vegetation change in the tropics.

Item ID: 67132
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1872-616X
Keywords: carbon isotope; palaeoenvironmemt; guano; insect
Copyright Information: © 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved
Funders: Australian Research Council, ARC Centre of Excellence for Biodiversity and Heritage (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC FL140100044, ARC CE170100015
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2021 23:18
FoR Codes: 37 EARTH SCIENCES > 3703 Geochemistry > 370303 Isotope geochemistry @ 50%
37 EARTH SCIENCES > 3709 Physical geography and environmental geoscience > 370905 Quaternary environments @ 50%
SEO Codes: 28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280107 Expanding knowledge in the earth sciences @ 100%
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