Using Ratios in Cave Guano to Assess Past Environmental Changes

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Stable isotope ratios of cave bat guano reflect environmental influences at the soil and plant level within the foraging range of the bats. Carbon, nitrogen and hydrogen isotopes have utility in reconstructing precipitation and temperature as well as in tracing the influence of large-scale atmospheric circulation and climate variability. Guano-derived stable isotope time series have been demonstrated to effectively provide high-resolution records of palaeoenvironmental variation from the late Pleistocene to present. Owing to their influence on these isotopes, factors such as bat ecology, species foraging range and site location must be considered when interpreting such records. Research analysing the isotopic composition of guano has provided a highly resolved history of vegetation and climate dynamics previously less understood. In this chapter we discuss the factors influencing the δ13C, δ15N and δ2H values in guano and provide an up-to-date review of cave guano as palaeo-climate archive.

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Geological Society, London, Special Publications, v. 507