Nutritional Ecology and Stable Isotopes

A primary goal of this collaborative project with Drs. Cerling, Ehleringer and Harris, is to apply stable isotopes in studies of the foraging ecology of vertebrates.

The project is multifaceted and includes work across a variety of spatial and temporal scales. For example, we are conducting paleontological studies on the foraging ecology of extinct vertebrates as well as performing experiments on the digestive physiology of living herbivores.

The portion of the work that I have been directing focuses on the use of stable isotopes to determine diet specificity in small mammals, voles and shrews.

In addition, we are testing the hypothesis that mammalian herbivores do not digest C4 plants to the same extent as C3 plants. A major contribution of this work is to provide fundamental empirical data on fractionation and turnover time of stable isotopes in a variety of animals and tissue types.