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See detailFreshwater pearl mussels as a stream water stable isotope recorder
Pfister, Laurent UL; Thielen, Frank; Deloule, Etienne et al

in Ecohydrology (2018), 11:e2007

For several decades, stable isotopes have been a commonly used and effective tool for flow path analysis, stream water source apportionment, and transit time analysis. The Global Network of Isotopes in ... [more ▼]

For several decades, stable isotopes have been a commonly used and effective tool for flow path analysis, stream water source apportionment, and transit time analysis. The Global Network of Isotopes in Precipitation repository now has monthly precipitation isotope time series extending over several years and even decades in some settings. However, stream water isotope composition time series remain rather short with only very few data sets spanning over more than a few years. A critical challenge in this respect is the collection of stream water isotope data sets across a wide variety of headwater streams and for long durations. We rely on a new approach for stream signal reconstruction based on freshwater mussels, specifically the freshwater pearl mussel Margaritifera margaritifera. We use secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) to quantify oxygen isotope ratios in pearl mussel shell growth bands. In our study area, the observed seasonal variability in precipitation δ18O values ranges between −15‰ and −3‰. This input signal is strongly damped in stream water, where observed values of δ18O range between −10‰ and −6.5‰. These values are consistent with our measured average shell‐derived stream water δ18O of −7.19‰. Along successive growth bands, SIMS‐based stream water δ18Ow values varied within a seasonal range of −9‰ to −5‰. The proposed SIMS‐based shell analysis technique is obviously well suited for analysing isotopic signatures of O in shell material—especially from the perspective of reconstructing historical series of in‐stream isotope signatures. [less ▲]

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