Isotopic Indications of Late Pleistocene and Holocene Paleoenvironmental Changes at Boodie Cave Archaeological Site, Barrow Island, Western Australia

Publication Name

Molecules (Basel, Switzerland)


This paper presents the first application of mammal tooth enamel carbonate stable isotope analysis for the purpose of investigating late Pleistocene-early Holocene environmental change in an Australian archaeological context. Stable carbon (δ13C) and oxygen (δ18O) isotope ratios were analyzed from archaeological and modern spectacled hare wallaby (Lagorchestes conspicillatus) and hill kangaroo (Osphranter robustus) tooth enamel carbonates from Boodie Cave on Barrow Island in Western Australia. δ18O results track the dynamic paleoecological history at Boodie Cave including a clear shift towards increasing aridity preceding the onset of the Last Glacial Maximum and a period of increased humidity in the early to mid-Holocene. Enamel δ13C reflects divergent species feeding ecology and may imply a long-term shift toward increasing diversity in vegetation structure. This study contributes new data to the carbonate-isotope record for Australian fauna and demonstrates the significant potential of stable isotope based ecological investigations for tracking paleoenvironment change to inter-strata resolution.

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Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

Australian Research Council



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