"Why we need a centralized repository for isotopic data" is a multi-authored paper that has resulted from the interdisciplinary collaboration of researchers using stable isotope data in biology, geology, ecology, archaeology, paleontology, and other areas. Published in PNAS, the paper argues that there is now a need for a globally support, open access linked database for stable isotope data akin to GenBank (the global repository for DNA data).

As she wraps up her final edits on her Master's dissertation, María José Rivera Araya is also packing her bags for Australia. Her M.Sc.here at UGA, Assessing stable isotope data from archaeological white-tailed deer remains as a paleoenvironmental proxy at the site of La Joyanca, Northwestern Petén, Yucatán Peninsula, was funded by a Fulbright Award. She will be continuing on her path to a PhD at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia, funded by a competitive International Postgraduate Reearch Scholarship. Congratulations Maria and good luck!

QUIP lab director Dr. Suzanne Pilaar Birch and colleagues recently published research in the open-access journal, PLOS ONE. This paper examined isotopic values of oxygen from herbivore teeth, specifically red deer or elk (Cervus elaphus), chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra) and ibex (Capra ibex). The data showed that while the degree of variability remained constant in the caprids (chamois and ibex), there was a significant change in variation in the deer from the Pleistocene into the Holocene.

SIZWG members

The first meeting of the Stable Isotopes in Zooarchaeology Working Group took place here at UGA March 3-5, 2016, with the theme “Data Management and New Directions”. The majority of the 35 participants were from the US and Canada, but we also had colleagues joining us from Europe and Australia.

View from the "Cave of Darkness", Għar Dalam.

Dr. Pilaar Birch joined a team from the Natural History Museum, London, and the National Museum of Natural History, Malta at the cave of Għar Dalam for a week of fieldwork in January 2016. The cave was excavated extensively during the 20th century, and thousands of fossil and sub-fossil bones from pygmy hippos, tiny elephants, and dwarf deer were recovered.

Image of article in BioScience

QUIP Lab director Suzanne Pilaar Birch and Dr. Russell Graham, Professor and Director of the Earth & Mineral Sciences Museum at Penn State University, have co-authored a letter in the journal BioScience entitled "A Stable Isotope Data Repository as Part of Neotoma, a Paleoecological Database". The letter is open access and can be read or downloaded here.

Last week, samples that were collected by Dr. Pilaar Birch on fieldwork earlier this summer arrived at the lab safe and sound! The samples are from the site of Uğurlu on the island of Gökçeada, Turkey. Uğurlu is recognized as one of the one of the earliest Neolithic sites in the Aegean, dating to about 8,500-6,500 years before present.

stable isotope analysis of bones

The first meeting of the Stable Isotopes in Zooarchaeology Working Group (SIZWG) will take place 3-5 March 2016 here at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, USA. The call for paper and poster abstracts is currently open until December 15, 2015. Information about abstract submission, registration, and travel and accommodation is available on the conference website

Maria Jose Rivera Araya

The QUIP Lab welcomes Geography Master's student María José Rivera Araya, who completed her BA in Anthropology and BS in Chemistry in Spring 2015 at the University of Costa Rica. She is working with Dr. Pilaar Birch on a project that will evaluate the efficacy of stable isotope data from tooth enamel carbonate as a paleoenvironmental proxy in tropical regions. She is funded by the Fulbright Foreign Student Program.