Geographic distribution models of environmentally stable isotopes (the so-called “isoscapes”) are widely employed in animal ecology, and wildlife forensics and conservation. However, the application of isoscapes is limited to elements and regions for which the spatial patterns have been estimated. Here, we focused on the ubiquitous yet less commonly used stable sulfur isotopes (δ34S). To predict the European δ34S isoscape, we used 242 feather samples from Eurasian Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus) formed at 69 European wetland sites. We quantified the relationships between sample δ34S and environmental covariates using a random forest regression model and applied the model to predict the geographic distribution of δ34S. We also quantified within-site variation in δ34S and complementarity with other isotopes on both individual and isoscape levels. The predicted feather δ34S isoscape shows only slight differences between the central and southern parts of Europe while the coastal regions were most enriched in 34S. The most important covariates of δ34S were distance to coastline, surface elevation, and atmospheric concentrations of SO2 gases. The absence of a systematic spatial pattern impedes the application of the δ34S isoscape, but high complementarity with other isoscapes advocates the combination of multiple isoscapes to increase the precision of animal tracing. Feather δ34S compositions showed considerable within-site variation with highest values in inland parts of Europe, likely attributed to wetland anaerobic conditions and redox sensitivity of sulfur. The complex European geography and topography as well as using δ34S samples from wetlands may contribute to the absence of a systematic spatial gradient of δ34S values in Europe. We thus encourage future studies to focus on the geographic distribution of δ34S using tissues from diverse taxa collected in various habitats over large land masses in the world (i.e., Africa, South America, or East Asia)

Brlík, V.; Procházka, P.; Bontempo, L.; Camin, F.; Jiguet, F.; Osváth, G.; Stricker, C.A.; Wunder, M.B.; Powell, R.L. (2024). Geographic distribution of feather δ34S in Europe. ECOSPHERE, 15 (2): e4690. doi: 10.1002/ecs2.4690 handle: https://hdl.handle.net/10449/84275

Geographic distribution of feather δ34S in Europe

Bontempo, Luana;Camin, Federica;
2024-01-01

Abstract

Geographic distribution models of environmentally stable isotopes (the so-called “isoscapes”) are widely employed in animal ecology, and wildlife forensics and conservation. However, the application of isoscapes is limited to elements and regions for which the spatial patterns have been estimated. Here, we focused on the ubiquitous yet less commonly used stable sulfur isotopes (δ34S). To predict the European δ34S isoscape, we used 242 feather samples from Eurasian Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus) formed at 69 European wetland sites. We quantified the relationships between sample δ34S and environmental covariates using a random forest regression model and applied the model to predict the geographic distribution of δ34S. We also quantified within-site variation in δ34S and complementarity with other isotopes on both individual and isoscape levels. The predicted feather δ34S isoscape shows only slight differences between the central and southern parts of Europe while the coastal regions were most enriched in 34S. The most important covariates of δ34S were distance to coastline, surface elevation, and atmospheric concentrations of SO2 gases. The absence of a systematic spatial pattern impedes the application of the δ34S isoscape, but high complementarity with other isoscapes advocates the combination of multiple isoscapes to increase the precision of animal tracing. Feather δ34S compositions showed considerable within-site variation with highest values in inland parts of Europe, likely attributed to wetland anaerobic conditions and redox sensitivity of sulfur. The complex European geography and topography as well as using δ34S samples from wetlands may contribute to the absence of a systematic spatial gradient of δ34S values in Europe. We thus encourage future studies to focus on the geographic distribution of δ34S using tissues from diverse taxa collected in various habitats over large land masses in the world (i.e., Africa, South America, or East Asia)
Feather
Isoscape
Sulfur
Wetland
Settore CHIM/01 - CHIMICA ANALITICA
2024
Brlík, V.; Procházka, P.; Bontempo, L.; Camin, F.; Jiguet, F.; Osváth, G.; Stricker, C.A.; Wunder, M.B.; Powell, R.L. (2024). Geographic distribution of feather δ34S in Europe. ECOSPHERE, 15 (2): e4690. doi: 10.1002/ecs2.4690 handle: https://hdl.handle.net/10449/84275
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