MEPS 303:43-50 (2005)  -  doi:10.3354/meps303043

HCl-soluble 87Sr/86Sr ratio in sediments impacted by penguin or seal excreta as a proxy for historical population size in the maritime Antarctic

Liguang Sun*, Renbin Zhu, Xiaodong Liu, Zhouqing Xie, Xuebin Yin, Sanping Zhao, Yuhong Wang

Institute of Polar Environment, University of Science and Technology of China, Anhui Province 230026, PR China

ABSTRACT: The strontium (Sr) isotopic compositions in the HCl-soluble and insoluble fractions of sediments impacted by penguin and seal excreta in the maritime Antarctic were analyzed. The HCl-soluble phase of the sediments impacted by penguin guano has a high 87Sr/86Sr ratio (average 0.7087), close to the ratio in seawater (average 0.7092), suggesting that the 87Sr/86Sr ratios in the sediments are significantly impacted by penguin guano. The 87Sr/86Sr ratios in the HCl-soluble phase of the sediments impacted by seal excreta vary between 0.705066 and 0.706117, with an average of 0.705507, higher than those of the local bedrock, but lower than the ratio in modern seawater; they are interpreted to be a mixture of Sr from seal excreta (30 to 50%) and the weathering products of the local bedrock (50 to 70%). The Sr contributions from penguin guano and seal excreta were calculated using the 2-member isotope mixing equation, and they have a significant correlation with the historical penguin population size as estimated from other geochemical analyses and the seal hair density in the sediments, respectively. These results suggest that the 87Sr/86Sr ratios in the HCl-soluble fraction of sediments impacted by penguin or seal excreta can potentially be used as an indirect and new proxy for the historical population size of these sea animals in the maritime Antarctic.


KEY WORDS: Strontium isotope · Antarctica · Penguin guano · Seal excreta · Sediment


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