Articles | Volume 11, issue 19
Research article
06 Oct 2014
Research article |  | 06 Oct 2014

Factors controlling shell carbon isotopic composition of land snail Acusta despecta sieboldiana estimated from laboratory culturing experiment

N. Zhang, K. Yamada, N. Suzuki, and N. Yoshida

Abstract. The carbon isotopic composition (δ13C) of land snail shell carbonate derives from three potential sources: diet, atmospheric CO2, and ingested carbonate (limestone). However, their relative contributions remain unclear. Under various environmental conditions, we cultured one land snail subspecies, Acusta despecta sieboldiana, collected from Yokohama, Japan, and confirmed that all of these sources affect shell carbonate δ13C values. Herein, we consider the influences of metabolic rates and temperature on the carbon isotopic composition of the shell carbonate. Based on results obtained from previous works and this study, a simple but credible framework is presented to illustrate how each source and environmental parameter affects shell carbonate δ13C values. According to this framework and some reasonable assumptions, we estimated the contributions of different carbon sources for each snail individual: for cabbage-fed (C3 plant) groups, the contributions of diet, atmospheric CO2, and ingested limestone vary in the ranges of 66–80, 16–24, and 0–13%, respectively. For corn-fed (C4 plant) groups, because of the possible food stress (less ability to consume C4 plants), the values vary in the ranges of 56–64, 18–20, and 16–26%, respectively. Moreover, according to the literature and our observations, the subspecies we cultured in this study show preferences towards different plant species for food. Therefore, we suggest that the potential food preference should be considered adequately for some species in paleoenvironment studies. Finally, we inferred that only the isotopic exchange of the calcite-HCO3-aragonite equilibrium during egg laying and hatching of our cultured snails controls carbon isotope fractionation.

Final-revised paper