Snail Shells, Climate, and Weather – #365papers – 2017 – 35

#365papers for February 4, 2017

Yanes, Izeta, Cattaneo, Costa, and Gordillo, 2014, Holocene (~4.5-1.7 cal. kyr BP) paleoenvironmental conditions in central Argentina inferred from entire-shell and intra-shell stable isotope composition of terrestrial gastropods: The Holocene, v. 24, p. 1193-1205.

What’s it about?

This paper discusses the use of geochemistry (specifically stable isotopes) of fossil snail shells to understand past environments. It looks especially on comparing results from whole shell analysis (grinding the whole shell up and putting it into the mass spectrometer) against serial or intra-shell analyses, where multiple samples are collected from a single shell.

Why does it matter?

It matters to me because we need to be sure what we’re comparing when we have to use both whole shell and intra-shell results. It’s possible that intra-shell results don’t tell us more than whole shell, which would save us a lot of work. (I don’t believe that last statement for a moment.)

Why did I read this?

This paper compares results from whole shells (recording the entire life of a snail) and those made by taking multiple samples along the growth axis of the shell (serial sampling), which gives us more detail of changes over the course of the snail’s life, like seasonal or annual changes in precipitation and temperature. Since I usually use serial sampling methods, I wanted to make sure I understood how this related to whole shell results.

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