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Human consumers of terrestrial plants and animals typically have d15N values inbone collagenof about 6-10‰ whereas consumers of freshwater or marinefish, seals and sea lions may have d15N values of 15-20‰ (Schoeninger and De Niro 1983). While most plants follow either the C3 or C4 photosynthetic pathway and have similar carbon isotope ratios in most ecological settings, nitrogen isotope ratios vary according to rainfall, altitude and other factors (Ambrose1991), and both carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios vary considerably among marine organisms (Schoeninger and De Niro 1984). Other surveys and summaries of stable isotope analysis in archaeology may be found in Schwarcz & Schoeninger (1991); van der Merwe (1992); Ambrose (1993); Schoeninger 1995; Katzenberg & Harrison (1997); Larsen (1997); Tykot (2004), and Tykot (2006).

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Non-biogenic carbonates are then removed in 1.0 M buffered acetic acid for 24 hours. Some caution is warranted, however, if succulent plants were present, since they utilize the alternative CAM (crassulacean acid metabolism) photosynthetic pathway which results in carbon isotope ratios similar to those of C4 plants. Nevertheless, CAM plants are unlikely to have been major sources of dietary protein, whether consumed directly or indirectly through herbivorous faunal intermediaries. Overall, stable isotope analysis of multiple tissues can provide a quantifiable dietary life history of an individual (Sealy et al. Benz (eds.), Histories of Maize: Multidisciplinary Approaches to the Prehistory, Linguistics, Biogeography, Domestication, and Evolution of Maize, 131-142.

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1995), whereas subsistence data from faunal and archaeobotanical remains typically derive from at least multiple individuals, often over multiple generations. While collagen is rarely preserved in bones predating the Upper Paleolithic, and is often badly degraded in hot and moist environments (e.g.