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

October 3, 2018

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.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2019
Title Overview of the oxygen isotope systematics of land snails from North America
DOI 10.1017/qua.2018.79
Authors Yurena Yanes, Nasser M. Al-Qattan, Jason A. Rech, Jeffrey S. Pigati, Justin P. Dodd, Jeffrey C. Nekola
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Quaternary Research
Series Number
Index ID 70200424
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center