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What can crop stable isotopes ever do for us? An experimental perspective on using cereal stable isotope values for reconstructing water availability in semi-arid and arid environments

Flohr, P., Jenkins, E., Williams, H. R. S., Jamjoum, K. and Müldner, G. (2019) What can crop stable isotopes ever do for us? An experimental perspective on using cereal stable isotope values for reconstructing water availability in semi-arid and arid environments. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany. ISSN 0939-6314 (In Press)

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s00334-018-0708-5

Abstract/Summary

This study re-assesses and refines the use of crop carbon stable isotopes (Δ13C) to reconstruct past water availability. Durum wheat, six-row barley, and sorghum were experimentally grown at three crop growing stations in Jordan for up to three years under five different irrigation regimes: 0% (rainfall only), 40%, 80%, 100%, and 120% of the crops’ optimum water requirements. Results show large variation in carbon stable isotopes for crops that received similar amounts of water, either as absolute water input or as percentage of crop requirements. We conclude that C3 crop carbon stable isotope composition can therefore be best interpreted in terms of extremely high values showing an abundance of water versus low values indicating water-stress. Values in between these extremes are problematic and best interpreted in conjunction with other proxies. C4 crop isotopes were not found to be useful for the reconstruction of water availability.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Archaeology
ID Code:81266
Publisher:Springer

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