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Predicting diet, trophic level and palaeoecology from bone stable isotope analysis: a comparative study of five red deer populations

Stevens, Rhiannon E., Lister, Adrian M., Hedges, Robert E. M.
Oecologia 2006 v.149 no.1 pp. 12-21
Cervus elaphus, bones, canopy, collagen, correlation, deer, diet, food webs, habitats, paleoecology, prediction, stable isotopes, temperature, Scotland
C and N stable isotope ratios of red deer (Cervus elaphus) bone collagen (154 individuals) from five modern populations occupying geographically different habitats are reported. No significant difference was observed between deer occupying forested and non-forested environments subject to similar climatic conditions suggesting a simple “canopy effect” is not observed. Mean population δ¹³C is negatively correlated with temperature whereas mean population δ¹⁵N is positively correlated with temperature. A weak but significant positive correlation was observed between deer age and collagen δ¹³C values from the Isle of Rum population (Scotland). The amount of intra-population isotope variability is not consistent among populations; thus significant numbers of individuals from each species are required for modern food web studies, for palaeodietary baseline data, and for palaeoecological studies.