Evaluating δ18O and δ13C variations within a modern Biggenden Banded snail (Figuladra bayensis) shell using radiocarbon dating: application for past climate reconstruction

Mr Nicholas Patton1,2, Professor  James Shulmeister1,2, Professor  Melanie  Leng3,4, Professor Mathew  Jones4, Dr. Quan Hua5, Dr. Catherine Hughes5

1University Of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand, 2University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Australia, 3British Geological Survey (BGS), Keyworth, England, 4University of Nottingham, Nottingham, England, 5Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), Lucas Heights, Australia

Gastropods are utilized to infer paleoclimate variability due to the preservation and incorporation of stable isotopes (δ18O and δ13C) in their aragonite shells. Analyses along the growth axis of larger gastropods have been suggested to contain high-resolution records of local seasonal climate variability and the organism’s biological life cycle. Here a Figuladra bayensis (Biggenden Banded snail) shell was collected shortly after death from Coalstoun Lakes National Park, Queensland, Australia. A total of 200 samples were collected for δ18O and δ13C analyses and an additional 8 radiocarbon dating samples were collected along the growth axis from the apex to the aperture. Results from our work indicates that the Biggenden Banded snail lived ~4.4 years, with evidence of two aestivation (dormant stage) periods during the dry, cool winters. As a result, its growth rate was episodic with the highest rates of ~90 mm/yr occurring shortly after large rain events. The δ18O and δ13C variation in the shell is closely related to total rainfall, diet and physiological changes. To our knowledge this is the highest resolution isotopic and radiocarbon dated study on a modern terrestrial snail, allowing the nuances of the stable isotope record to be more clearly interpreted and therefore used as a palaeoenvironmental proxy.


I am a watershed scientist who is interested in the interaction between biotic and abiotic processes that drive landscape, climate, and ecosystem evolution. My work tends to be at the interface between multiple disciplines and as a result, has motivated me to become a voice for the scientific community and an advocate of science literacy and communication.

Currently, I am in my 3rd year of my PhD working within the Great Sandy Region National Park QLD, AUS to understand its evolution over the Quaternary.

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Nov 19 2021


9:45 am - 10:40 pm