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Carbon and nitrogen stable isotope values in freshwater, brackish and marine fish bone collagen from Mesolithic and Neolithic sites in central and northern Europe

Robson, Harry K.; Andersen, Søren H.; Clarke, Leon; Craig, Oliver E.; Gron, Kurt J.; Jones, Andrew K G; Karsten, Per LU ; Milner, Nicky; Price, T Douglas and Ritchie, Kenneth, et al. (2016) In Environmental Archaeology 21(2). p.105-118
Abstract

The aim of this research is to examine the isotopic characterisation of archaeological fish species as it relates to freshwater, brackish and marine environments, trophic level and migration patterns, and to determine intraspecies variation within and between fish populations in different locations within central and northern Europe. Carbon and nitrogen stable isotope analysis was undertaken on collagen extracted from 72 fish bone samples from eight Mesolithic and Neolithic archaeological sites in this region. Thirty-six (50%) of the specimens analysed produced results with acceptable carbon to nitrogen atomic ratios (2·9–3·6). The fish remains encompassed a wide spectrum of freshwater, brackish and marine taxa (n = 12), which were... (More)

The aim of this research is to examine the isotopic characterisation of archaeological fish species as it relates to freshwater, brackish and marine environments, trophic level and migration patterns, and to determine intraspecies variation within and between fish populations in different locations within central and northern Europe. Carbon and nitrogen stable isotope analysis was undertaken on collagen extracted from 72 fish bone samples from eight Mesolithic and Neolithic archaeological sites in this region. Thirty-six (50%) of the specimens analysed produced results with acceptable carbon to nitrogen atomic ratios (2·9–3·6). The fish remains encompassed a wide spectrum of freshwater, brackish and marine taxa (n = 12), which were reflected in the δ13C values (−24·5 to −7·8‰). The freshwater/brackish fish (pike, Esox lucius; perch, Perca fluviatilis; zander, Sander lucioperca) had δ13C values that ranged from −24·2 to −19·3‰, whereas the brackish/marine fish (spurdog, Squalus acanthias; flatfish, Pleuronectidae; codfish, Gadidae; garfish, Belone belone; mackerel, Scomber scombrus) ranged from −14·9 to −9·4‰. Salmonidae, an anadromous taxon, and eel (Anguilla anguilla), a catadromous species, had carbon isotope values consistent with marine origin, and no evidence of freshwater residency (−12·7 to −11·7‰). The δ15N values had a range of 6·2‰ (6·5–12·7‰) indicating that these fish were on average feeding at 1·7 trophic levels higher than their producers in these diverse aquatic environments. These results serve as an important ecological baseline for the future isotopic reconstruction of the diet of human populations dating to the late Mesolithic and early Neolithic of the region.

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published
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keywords
brackish, collagen, Fish bone, freshwater, marine, Mesolithic, Neolithic, stable isotopes
in
Environmental Archaeology
volume
21
issue
2
pages
14 pages
publisher
Maney on behalf of Association for Environmental Archaeology
external identifiers
  • scopus:84978503110
ISSN
1461-4103
DOI
10.1179/1749631415Y.0000000014
language
English
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yes
id
341f5fb8-f9c8-47ab-aaa4-d16ca840af99
date added to LUP
2017-02-02 12:02:13
date last changed
2017-05-16 15:00:10
@article{341f5fb8-f9c8-47ab-aaa4-d16ca840af99,
  abstract     = {<p>The aim of this research is to examine the isotopic characterisation of archaeological fish species as it relates to freshwater, brackish and marine environments, trophic level and migration patterns, and to determine intraspecies variation within and between fish populations in different locations within central and northern Europe. Carbon and nitrogen stable isotope analysis was undertaken on collagen extracted from 72 fish bone samples from eight Mesolithic and Neolithic archaeological sites in this region. Thirty-six (50%) of the specimens analysed produced results with acceptable carbon to nitrogen atomic ratios (2·9–3·6). The fish remains encompassed a wide spectrum of freshwater, brackish and marine taxa (n = 12), which were reflected in the δ<sup>13</sup>C values (−24·5 to −7·8‰). The freshwater/brackish fish (pike, Esox lucius; perch, Perca fluviatilis; zander, Sander lucioperca) had δ<sup>13</sup>C values that ranged from −24·2 to −19·3‰, whereas the brackish/marine fish (spurdog, Squalus acanthias; flatfish, Pleuronectidae; codfish, Gadidae; garfish, Belone belone; mackerel, Scomber scombrus) ranged from −14·9 to −9·4‰. Salmonidae, an anadromous taxon, and eel (Anguilla anguilla), a catadromous species, had carbon isotope values consistent with marine origin, and no evidence of freshwater residency (−12·7 to −11·7‰). The δ<sup>15</sup>N values had a range of 6·2‰ (6·5–12·7‰) indicating that these fish were on average feeding at 1·7 trophic levels higher than their producers in these diverse aquatic environments. These results serve as an important ecological baseline for the future isotopic reconstruction of the diet of human populations dating to the late Mesolithic and early Neolithic of the region.</p>},
  author       = {Robson, Harry K. and Andersen, Søren H. and Clarke, Leon and Craig, Oliver E. and Gron, Kurt J. and Jones, Andrew K G and Karsten, Per and Milner, Nicky and Price, T Douglas and Ritchie, Kenneth and Zabilska-Kunek, Mirosława and Heron, Carl},
  issn         = {1461-4103},
  keyword      = {brackish,collagen,Fish bone,freshwater,marine,Mesolithic,Neolithic,stable isotopes},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {05},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {105--118},
  publisher    = {Maney on behalf of Association for Environmental Archaeology},
  series       = {Environmental Archaeology},
  title        = {Carbon and nitrogen stable isotope values in freshwater, brackish and marine fish bone collagen from Mesolithic and Neolithic sites in central and northern Europe},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1179/1749631415Y.0000000014},
  volume       = {21},
  year         = {2016},
}