Research Topic

A Golden Age for Strontium Isotope Research? Current Advances in Paleoecological and Archaeological Research

About this Research Topic

The ability for strontium isotopes (87Sr/86Sr) to answer questions about the mobility and landscape use of both living and extinct organisms has been recognized for more than three decades. Despite this, and largely due to costs and the need for robust empirical reference datasets, the use of this geochemical ...

The ability for strontium isotopes (87Sr/86Sr) to answer questions about the mobility and landscape use of both living and extinct organisms has been recognized for more than three decades. Despite this, and largely due to costs and the need for robust empirical reference datasets, the use of this geochemical technique in palaeoecological research has yet to become mainstream. Although archaeological applications have been more frequent, the method was rather underutilized until relatively recently.

Analytical technical advances, which have served to lower costs and minimize destructive sampling, combined with other advances, such as predictively modelled ‘isoscapes’, are moving the field forward. These improvements, coupled with a greater awareness of sampling issues, diagenesis and other limitations, are allowing the more widespread application of strontium isotope analysis in archaeological and paleoecological enquiries, as well as the development of more nuanced research questions that bridge these and other allied fields. Baseline landscape models, based on both field and modelled data, are now available for a number of regions on the planet, further facilitating the more widespread application of these approaches. Strontium isotopes can complement other proxy data (e.g. DNA, microwear and stable isotopes of light elements) derived from the same materials (e.g. bones, teeth and otoliths). They are increasingly being used to infer past movement patterns of animals and people, social structures and demographic trends, and individual life histories. Accordingly, we may now be entering a golden age for strontium isotope research.

We propose a research topic on advances and novel applications in strontium isotope research that are relevant to paleoecology and archaeology. We welcome submissions of case studies applying strontium isotopic analysis to specific questions of (1) human, animal and artifact origin, (2) mobility and landscape use, or (3) integrated perspectives (e.g. data compilation, isoscape modelling, probabilistic approaches, web-interfaces, epistemological limitations) that aim to further develop and refine the applicability of this isotope tool in archaeological and paleoecological research.


Keywords: 87Sr/86Sr, geochemistry, provenance, mobility, landscape use


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05 June 2020 Manuscript

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Submission Deadlines

05 June 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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