Carbon and Nitrogen Isotopic Signatures of Hair, Nail, and Breath from tropical African Human Populations
Mirazón Lahr, Marta
Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry
John Wiley & Sons Inc.
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Correia, M. A., Foley, R., O'Connell, T., Ramírez-Rozzi, F., & Mirazón Lahr, M. (2019). Carbon and Nitrogen Isotopic Signatures of Hair, Nail, and Breath from tropical African Human Populations. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry https://doi.org/10.1002/rcm.8524
RATIONALE: Stable isotopic analyses are increasingly used to study the diets of past and present human populations. Yet, the carbon and nitrogen isotopic data of modern human diets collected so far are biased towards Europe and North America. Here, we address this gap by reporting on the dietary isotopic signatures of six tropical African communities: El Molo, Turkana (Kerio), Luhya (Webuye), Luhya (Port Victoria), and Luo (Port Victoria) from Kenya, and Baka from Cameroon; representing four subsistence strategies: fishing, pastoralism, agriculturalism, and hunter-gatherer. METHODS: We used EA-CF-IRMS to measure the carbon and nitrogen isotopic ratios of hair (n = 134) and nail (n = 80), and the carbon isotopic ratios of breath (n = 184) from these communities, as well as the carbon and nitrogen isotopic ratios of some food samples from the Kenyan communities. RESULTS: We expand on the known range of δ13 C values in human hair through the hunter-gatherer Baka, with a diet based on C3 plants, and through the agriculturalist Luhya (Webuye), with a diet based on C4 plants. In addition, we found that the consumption of fish from East African lakes is difficult to detect isotopically due to the combined effects of high nitrogen isotopic ratios of plants and the low nitrogen isotopic ratios of fish. Finally, we found that some of the communities studied are markedly changing their diets through increasing sedentism and urbanization. CONCLUSION: Our findings contribute substantially to the understanding of the environmental, demographic and economic dynamics that affect the dietary landscape of different tropical populations of Africa. These results highlight the importance of studying a broader sample of human populations and their diet, with a focus on their precise context - both from an isotopic and more general anthropological perspectives.
This study was funded by a European Research Council Advanced Award to MML (In-Africa Project, ERC 295907), and carried out with permission from the National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation, Kenya, No. NACOSTI/P/15/2669/4758.
European Research Council (295907)
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/rcm.8524
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/295401
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