Isotopes and Interpretations: Are We Getting it Right? – #365papers – 2018 – 15

Kohn and McKay, 2012, Paleoecology of late Pleistocene-Holocene faunas of eastern and central Wyoming, USA, with implications for LGM climate models: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 326-328, 42-53.

What’s it about?

Here, the authors compare values of carbon and oxygen isotopes from multiple species (herbivores and carnivores) from a single site to understand how these isotopes reflect environmental variables like annual precipitation and temperature, and how all the animals interacted with each other and the environment. Understandings gathered from the isotopic results were compared to what is known from modern, living animals and to the results from climate models.

Why does it matter?

This paper shows where our assumptions of past climate might fail and also where gaps in our understanding of animal metabolism exist. There’s lots of room for improvement.

Why did I read this?

This paper focuses on two cave sites in Wyoming, Natural Trap Cave and Little Box Elder Cave. I have been doing research at Natural Trap Cave for the last four years, so I am interested in Kohn and McKay’s interpretations .

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