Overview of the oxygen isotope systematics of land snails from North America

Quaternary Research
By: , and 



Continental paleoclimate proxies with near-global coverage are rare. Land snail δ18O is one of the few proxies abundant in Quaternary sediments ranging from the tropics to the high Arctic tundra. However, its application in paleoclimatology remains difficult, attributable in part to limitations in published calibration studies. Here we present shell δ18O of modern small (<10 mm) snails across North America, from Florida (30°N) to Manitoba (58°N), to examine the main climatic controls on shell δ18O at a coarse scale. This transect is augmented by published δ18O values, which expand our coverage from Jamaica (18°N) to Alaska (64°N). Results indicate that shell δ18O primarily tracks the average annual precipitation δ18O. Shell δ18O increases 0.5–0.7‰ for every 1‰ increase in precipitation δ18O, and 0.3–0.7‰ for every 1°C increase in temperature. These relationships hold true when all taxa are included regardless of body size (ranging from ~1.6 to ~58 mm), ecology (herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores), or behavior (variable seasonal active periods and mobility habits). Future isotopic investigations should include calibration studies in tropical and high-latitude settings, arid environments, and along altitudinal gradients to test if the near linear relationship between shell and meteoric precipitation δ18O observed on a continental scale remains significant.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Overview of the oxygen isotope systematics of land snails from North America
Series title Quaternary Research
DOI 10.1017/qua.2018.79
Volume 91
Issue 1
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Contributing office(s) Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center
Description 16 p.
First page 329
Last page 344
Other Geospatial North America
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