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Carbon Isotope Analysis of Land Snail Shells: Implications for Carbon Sources and Radiocarbon Dating

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 July 2016

Glenn A Goodfriend
Affiliation:
Department of Zoology, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611
Darden G Hood
Affiliation:
Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory, University of Miami, Miami, Florida 33124
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Abstract

13C and 14C analyses were performed on a series of modern Jamaican land snails in order to quantitatively determine the sources of shell carbon. A model of these carbon sources, the pathways by which carbon reaches the shell, and the fractionation processes involved are presented. The contribution of limestone to shell carbonate is variable but may comprise up to 33% of the shell. About 25–40% of shell carbonate is derived from plants and about 30–60% from atmospheric CO2. Variation among populations and species with respect to 13C and 14C is attributed to the effects of limestone incorporation, snail size (as it affects CO2 exchange rate), physiological characteristics (presence of urease, respiration rate), and activity patterns of the snails. A formula for correction for isotopic fractionation of 14C of shell carbonate, based on 13C measurements, is derived. Bicarbonate-aragonite fractionation is apparently very minimal. Shell organic carbon appears to be derived largely from plants but also to a lesser extent from inorganic hemolymph carbon. This introduces the possibility of a small age anomaly of shell organic 14C due to limestone incorporation.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The American Journal of Science 

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