Studies in the Terrestrial Biosphere, the Atmosphere, and Ice Cores

Starting with the work of Ben Houlton, we have collaborated with the group of Lars Hedin in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in isotope studies of terrestrial N cycling. We have also worked on the nitrate N and O isotopes in rain, snow, and ice as tracers of reactive nitrogen sources and processing in the modern and ancient atmosphere.

References

201 Publications
Controls on the nitrogen isotopic composition of fish otolith organic matter: Lessons from a controlled diet switch experiment
The nitrogen isotopes (δ15N) in the organic fraction of accretionary hard part structures, such as fish otoliths, may provide life histories of dietary change. We performed controlled experiments to validate the dynamics of the isotopic signal incorporation into biominerals following dietary shifts and also compared whole-otolith and serial…
Arctic Ocean stratification set by sea level and freshwater inputs since the last ice age
Salinity-driven density stratification of the upper Arctic Ocean isolates sea-ice cover and cold, nutrient-poor surface waters from underlying warmer, nutrient-rich waters. Recently, stratification has strengthened in the western Arctic but has weakened in the eastern Arctic; it is unknown if these trends will continue. Here we present…
Nitrogen isotopic constraints on nutrient transport to the upper ocean
Ocean circulation supplies the surface ocean with the nutrients that fuel global ocean productivity. However, the mechanisms and rates of water and nutrient transport from the deep ocean to the upper ocean are poorly known. Here, we use the nitrogen isotopic composition of nitrate to place observational constraints on nutrient transport from the…
Nitrogen isotopes in tooth enamel record diet and trophic level enrichment: Results from a controlled feeding experiment
Nitrogen isotope ratios (δ15N) are a well-established tool for investigating the dietary and trophic behavior of animals in terrestrial and marine food webs. To date, δ15N values in fossils have primarily been measured in collagen extracted from bone or dentin, which is susceptible to degradation and rarely preserved in deep time (>100,000…
The Southern Ocean during the ice ages: A review of the Antarctic surface isolation hypothesis, with comparison to the North Pacific
The Southern Ocean is widely recognized as a potential cause of the lower atmospheric concentration of CO2 during ice ages, but the mechanism is debated. Focusing on the Southern Ocean surface, we review biogeochemical paleoproxy data and carbon cycle concepts that together favor the view that both the Antarctic and Subantarctic Zones (AZ and SAZ)…
Distinct nitrogen isotopic compositions of healthy and cancerous tissue in mice brain and head&neck micro-biopsies
Background: Cancerous cells can recycle metabolic ammonium for their growth. As this ammonium has a low nitrogen isotope ratio (15N/14N), its recycling may cause cancer tissue to have lower 15N/14N than surrounding healthy tissue. We investigated whether, within a given tissue type in individual mice, tumoral and healthy tissues could be…
Ice Age-Holocene Similarity of Foraminifera-Bound Nitrogen Isotope Ratios in the Eastern Equatorial Pacific
Bulk sediment δ15N records from the eastern tropical Pacific (ETP) extending back to the last ice age most often show low glacial δ15N, then a deglacial δ15N maximum, followed by a gradual decline to a late Holocene δ15N that is typically higher than that of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). The lower δ15N of the LGM has been interpreted to reflect…
Correlation between the carbon isotopic composition of planktonic foraminifera-bound organic matter and surface water pCO2 across the equatorial Pacific
For times prior to those represented by the air trapped in Antarctic ice core records, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere must be reconstructed using geochemical proxies. The δ13C of particulate organic carbon (POC) produced in ocean surface waters has previously been observed to covary with the concentration of CO2 in the water. Relative…
Southern Ocean upwelling, Earth s obliquity, and glacial-interglacial atmospheric CO2 change
Previous studies have suggested that during the late Pleistocene ice ages, surface-deep exchange was somehow weakened in the Southern Ocean s Antarctic Zone, which reduced the leakage of deeply sequestered carbon dioxide and thus contributed to the lower atmospheric carbon dioxide levels of the ice ages. Here, high-resolution diatom-bound nitrogen…
Megacity development and the demise of coastal coral communities: Evidence from coral skeleton δ15N records in the Pearl River estuary
Historical coral skeleton (CS) δ18O and δ15N records were produced from samples recovered from sedimentary deposits, held in natural history museum collections, and cored into modern coral heads. These records were used to assess the influence of global warming and regional eutrophication, respectively, on the decline of coastal coral communities…
Comparison of the isotopic composition of fish otolith-bound organic N with host tissue
The15N/14N ratio of the fish-native organic matter preserved in fish otoliths (or δ15Noto) may allow for reconstruction of fish trophic history and changes in food webs. To support this application, ground-truthing data are needed on the relationships among the δ15N of diet, of fish tissue (e.g., white muscle tissue, δ15Nwmt), and δ15Noto. Using a…
Uptake of groundwater nitrogen by a near-shore coral reef community on Bermuda
Nutrient enrichment can slow growth, enhance bioerosion rates, and intensify algal competition for reef-building corals. In areas of high human population density and/or limited waste management, submarine groundwater discharge can transfer anthropogenic nutrients from polluted groundwater to coastal reefs. In this case study, we investigate the…
The Nitrogen Isotopic Composition of Tissue and Shell-Bound Organic Matter of Planktic Foraminifera in Southern Ocean Surface Waters
We present the first nitrogen isotope (δ15N) measurements of planktic foraminifera, paleoceanographically important zooplankton, from the nutrient-rich waters of the modern Southern Ocean. Foraminifera were collected from net tows in the Subantarctic and Polar Frontal Zones (SAZ and PFZ, respectively) south of Africa during winter 2015 and late…
Dissolved Organic Nitrogen Cycling in the South China Sea From an Isotopic Perspective
Dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) is the dominant form of fixed nitrogen in most low and middle latitude ocean surface waters. Here, we report measurements of DON isotopic composition (δ15N) from the west South China Sea (SCS), with the goal of providing new insight into DON cycling. The concentration of DON in the surface ocean is correlated (r =…
Erratum: Global nitrogen cycle: Critical enzymes, organisms, and processes for nitrogen budgets and dynamics (Chemical Reviews (2020) 120:12 (5308-5351) DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemrev.9b00613)
(Figure Presented) Figure 4. Cycle of biologically driven N transformations that occur in natural and human-influenced terrestrial and marine environments. Nitrogen (N2) fixation (step 1) and N assimilation (from ammonium, nitrate, or organic N, step 2) are anabolic processes, whereas mineralization (step 3), nitrification (steps 4−6), DNRA (steps 7,…
Global Nitrogen Cycle: Critical Enzymes, Organisms, and Processes for Nitrogen Budgets and Dynamics
Nitrogen (N) is used in many of life s fundamental biomolecules, and it is also a participant in environmental redox chemistry. Biogeochemical processes control the amount and form of N available to organisms ("fixed"N). These interacting processes result in N acting as the proximate limiting nutrient in most surface environments. Here, we review…
Gulf Stream intensification after the early Pliocene shoaling of the Central American Seaway
The shoaling of the Central American Seaway (CAS) around 4.6 Ma (million years ago) is thought to have enhanced the Gulf Stream, strengthening the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation and potentially influencing the evolution of Pliocene climate. Paleoclimate records indicate a buildup of heat and salt in the Caribbean and changes in the…
The isotope effect of nitrate assimilation in the Antarctic Zone: Improved estimates and paleoceanographic implications
Both the nitrogen (N) isotopic composition (δ 15 N) of the nitrate source and the magnitude of isotope discrimination associated with nitrate assimilation are required to estimate the degree of past nitrate consumption from the δ 15 N of organic matter in Southern Ocean sediments (e.g., preserved within diatom microfossils). It has been suggested…
The residence time of Southern Ocean surface waters and the 100,000-year ice age cycle
From 1.25 million to 700,000 years ago, the ice age cycle deepened and lengthened from 41,000- to 100,000-year periodicity, a transition that remains unexplained. Using surface- and bottom-dwelling foraminifera from the Antarctic Zone of the Southern Ocean to reconstruct the deep-to-surface supply of water during the ice ages of the past 1.5…
Nitrogen isotope evidence for expanded ocean suboxia in the early Cenozoic
The million-year variability of the marine nitrogen cycle is poorly understood. Before 57 million years (Ma) ago, the 15N/14N ratio (d15N) of foraminifera shell-bound organic matter from three sediment cores was high, indicating expanded water column suboxia and denitrification. Between 57 and 50 Ma ago, d15N declined by 13 to 16 per mil in the…