Compound-specific carbon isotope variation among plant functional types at Stiffkey saltmarsh, the north Norfolk coast: Implications for plant ecology and palaeoclimatology

Yvette Eley, Nikolai Pedentchouk, Julian Andrews

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Palaeoclimate studies of fossil plant material employing δ13C measurements traditionally focus either on the variation in the 13C content of organic material as a record of the 13C/12C composition of atmospheric CO2, or the distribution of C3 vs. C4 vegetation to infer broad-scale climatic shifts. The development of compound-specific isotope techniques has allowed for increased resolution of information available from plant δ13C data. However, studies that investigate the influence of biotic and abiotic factors on terrestrial plant biomarkers across a range of plant functional types (PFTs) are still limited.

We present leaf-wax n-alkyl lipid δ13C data from an ongoing project studying the most dominant higher plant species (C3 and C4 grasses; succulents; evergreens) at Stiffkey saltmarsh. We observe large intraseasonal variations in n-alkane δ13C values, which range from 0.6 to 6‰. The pattern of carbon isotope fractionation at specific micro-environmental zones within the marsh is related to PFT. This study will evaluate the extent to which the varied responses of PFTs to edaphic factors across the study site influence the carbon isotope signatures of leaf wax biomarkers used in palaeoclimate studies. Additionally, these data will further our understanding of plant potential responses to ecological and environmental changes in the future.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2012
EventDevelopment of Isotopic Proxies for Palaeoenvironmental Interpretation: A Carbon Perspective (DIPPI-C) - Durham, United Kingdom
Duration: 8 May 201210 May 2012


ConferenceDevelopment of Isotopic Proxies for Palaeoenvironmental Interpretation: A Carbon Perspective (DIPPI-C)
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

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