Paul Szpak

Paul Szpak
Trent University · Department of Anthropology

PhD

About

85
Publications
33,794
Reads
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2,578
Citations
Citations since 2017
56 Research Items
2098 Citations
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20172018201920202021202220230100200300400
20172018201920202021202220230100200300400
Additional affiliations
October 2013 - May 2016
University of British Columbia - Vancouver
Position
  • NSERC Banting Postdoctoral Fellow
Education
September 2008 - September 2013
The University of Western Ontario
Field of study
  • Anthropology
September 2003 - June 2007
McMaster University
Field of study
  • Anthropology

Publications

Publications (85)
Article
Full-text available
Nitrogen isotopic studies have the potential to shed light on the structure of ancient ecosystems, agropastoral regimes, and human-environment interactions. Until relatively recently, however, little attention was paid to the complexities of nitrogen transformations in ancient plant-soil systems and their potential impact on plant and animal tissue...
Article
This paper reviews the ultrastructure and chemistry of fish bone, with an emphasis on zooarchaeology and stable isotope analysis. On the basis of the chemical composition of the collagen and the relationships between the collagen and mineral phases, fish bone is more susceptible to biotic and abiotic degradation than mammalian bone and is therefore...
Article
In this study, we present bone collagen δ13C and δ15N values from a large set of Pleistocene woolly mammoths (Mammuthus primigenius) from Siberia, Alaska and Yukon. Overall, results for mammoth specimens from eastern Beringia (Alaska and Yukon) significantly differ, for both δ13C and δ15N values, from those from western Beringia (northeastern Siber...
Article
Full-text available
The development of isotopic baselines for comparison with paleodietary data is crucial, but often overlooked. We review the factors affecting the carbon (δ(13)C) and nitrogen (δ(15)N) isotopic compositions of plants, with a special focus on the carbon and nitrogen isotopic compositions of twelve different species of cultivated plants (n = 91) and 1...
Article
Full-text available
Sulfur isotope (δ34S) analyses are an important archaeological and ecological tool for understanding human and animal migration and diet, but δ34S can be difficult to interpret, particularly in archaeological human-mobility studies, when measured isotope compositions are strongly 34S-depleted relative to regional baselines. Sulfides, which accumula...
Article
Full-text available
Stable carbon (δ¹³C) and nitrogen (δ¹⁵N) isotopic compositions of bone and dentine collagen extracted from museum specimens have been widely used to study the paleoecology of past populations. Due to possible systematic differences in stable isotope values between bone and dentine, dentine values need to be transformed into bone-collagen equivalent...
Preprint
Full-text available
Stable carbon (delta13C) and nitrogen (delta15N) isotope analysis was conducted on modern and archaeological polar bear bone collagen from the Canadian Arctic Archipelago to investigate potential changes in polar bear foraging ecology over four-millennia. Polar bear delta13C values showed a significant decline in the modern samples relative to all...
Article
Full-text available
Individuals of different sex or age can vary in their prey and habitat resource use due to differences in behaviour, life history, energetic need, or size. Harbour porpoises are small cetaceans that need to feed constantly to meet their high metabolic demands. In West Greenland, the species has a unique offshore, deep-water ecology. Here, we use bo...
Preprint
Full-text available
The Arctic is among the most climatically sensitive environments on Earth, and the disappearance of multiyear sea-ice in the Arctic Ocean is predicted within decades. As apex predators, polar bears are sentinel species for addressing the impact of environmental variability on Arctic marine ecosystems. By integrating genomics, isotopic analysis, mor...
Article
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Narwhals and belugas are toothed whales belonging to the Monodontidae. Belugas have a circumpolar Arctic and sub-Artic distribution while narwhals are restricted to the Atlantic Arctic. Their geographical ranges overlap during winter migrations in the Baffin Bay area (Canada/West Greenland) and successful interbreeding may occur. Here, we employed...
Article
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Research on the evolution of dog foraging and diet has largely focused on scavenging during their initial domestication and genetic adaptations to starch-rich food environments following the advent of agriculture. The Siberian archaeological record evidences other critical shifts in dog foraging and diet that likely characterize Holocene dogs globa...
Article
We examined the efficacy of ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) for removing humic contaminants from collagen extracted from ancient bone. Humic contaminants must be removed to obtain reliable stable isotope values from ancient bone collagen, given that humic acids have consistently lower δ13C values than collagen. The purpose of our research wa...
Article
Full-text available
In this study, we compared the elemental and isotopic composition of modern and ancient bone samples pre-treated using different demineralization agents with acidic and neutral pH. The purpose of our research was to examine if demineralization using a mineral acid such as hydrochloric acid (HCl) significantly alters the δ ¹⁵ N and δ ¹³ C values of...
Article
Full-text available
Archaeological and palaeontological excavations frequently produce large quantities of highly fragmentary bone. These bones can help to answer questions regarding past environments and human and animal lifeways via a number of analytical techniques but this potential is limited by the inability to distinguish individual animals and generate suffici...
Preprint
Full-text available
Individuals of different sex or age can vary in their resource use due to differences in behaviour, life history, energetic need, or size. Harbour porpoises are small cetaceans that rely on a constant prey supply to survive. Here, we use bone collagen carbon (δ 13 C) and nitrogen (δ 15 N) isotope compositions to elucidate sex and size differences i...
Article
Full-text available
Using stable isotope mixing models (SIMMs) to quantify past diets is becoming increasingly common in archaeology. This study highlights important field-specific difficulties encountered by archaeologists in reconstructing palaeodiets using SIMMs. Focusing on the data acquisition stage, we discuss several issues that could confound dietary quantific...
Preprint
Full-text available
Rationale Stable carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) isotope compositions of bone and dentine collagen extracted from subfossil specimens of extinct and extant mammalian species have been widely used to study the paleoecology of past populations. Due to possible systematic differences in stable isotope values between bone and dentine, dentine values...
Article
Full-text available
Palaeodietary reconstruction using stable isotope analysis is becoming increasingly common, as is the practice of using mixing models to quantify ancient dietary compositions. However, many archaeologists may be unaware of the complexities and pitfalls of stable isotope mixing models (SIMMs). This study serves to provide an overview of the basic pr...
Article
The carbon (δ¹³C) and nitrogen (δ¹⁵N) isotopic compositions of bone and tooth collagen provide a powerful tool for studying past biological, environmental, and cultural phenomena. Collagen has a well-understood chemical composition that has enabled the development of invaluable quality control (QC) criteria for isotopic data – something that is ext...
Article
Full-text available
Fisheries encompass complex interplays between social, economic, and environmental factors, but limitations on historical fisheries data can hamper efforts to identify and contextualize the long-term spatiotemporal patterns that shape them. We integrate 2500 years of stable isotope (δ34S, δ13C, and δ15N) and zooarchaeological evidence from Gulf of...
Article
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The woolly rhinoceros (Coelodonta antiquitatis) was a cold-adapted herbivore, widely distributed from western Europe to north-east Siberia during the Late Pleistocene. Previous studies have associated the extinction of the species ∼14,000 calendar years before present to climatic and vegetational changes, suggesting the later survival of population...
Article
Full-text available
In marine ecology, dietary interpretations of faunal assemblages often rely on nitrogen isotopes as the main or only applicable trophic level tracer. We investigate the geographic variability and trophic level isotopic discrimination factors of bone zinc ⁶⁶ Zn/ ⁶⁴ Zn ratios (δ ⁶⁶ Zn value) and compared it to collagen nitrogen and carbon stable isot...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives Stable isotope analysis can provide crucial insight into the function and development of early state‐level societies on the north coast of Peru. Materials and Methods Multi‐tissue (bone collagen, tooth enamel, hair, nail, skin, and tendon) stable isotope analyses (carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, and strontium) were conducted for 13 individual...
Article
Full-text available
Intraspecific variation in resource use by individuals of different age, sex or size may reflect differing energetic requirements and physiological constraints. Males and females often show differences in diet owing to sexual size dimorphism, different life histories and/or habitat use. Here, we investigate how sex and size influence the long-term...
Preprint
Full-text available
The woolly rhinoceros ( Coelodonta antiquitatis ) was a cold-adapted herbivore, widely distributed from western Europe to north-east Siberia during the Late Pleistocene. Previous studies associate the extinction of the species ~14,000 years before present to climatic and vegetational changes, and suggest that later survival of populations in north-...
Article
Resource depression and garden hunting are major topics of archaeological interest, with important implications for understanding cultural and environmental change. Garden hunting is difficult to study using traditional zooarchaeological approaches, but isotopic analyses of animals may provide a marker for where and when people exploited nondomesti...
Chapter
Over the last 20 years, the application of molecular tools in biological and archaeological research has increased concurrently with technological advances. This has provided new possibilities for conducting genetic, stable isotope and fatty acid analyses on modern and historical samples, to improve our understanding of Atlantic walrus biology and...
Article
Full-text available
Analysis of individual animal bodies can provide numerous useful insights in archeology, including how humans provisioned such animals, which in turn informs on a variety of other past behaviors such as human dietary patterns. In this study, we conducted stable carbon (δ 13 C) and nitrogen (δ 15 N) isotope analysis of collagen and keratin from four...
Preprint
Full-text available
In marine ecology, dietary interpretations of faunal assemblages often rely on nitrogen isotopes as the main or only applicable trophic level tracer. We investigate geographic variability and trophic level isotopic discrimination factors of a new tracer, bone ⁶⁶ Zn/ ⁶⁴ Zn ratios (δ ⁶⁶ Zn value), and compared it to collagen nitrogen and carbon stabl...
Article
Full-text available
Isotopic measurements of plant remains from archaeological sites are now routinely used to reconstruct agricultural practices in the Old World. These studies use charred botanical remains as the analytical substrate because (1) these are the materials that are commonly preserved in the archaeological record and (2) the integrity of the isotopic com...
Article
Isotopic analyses of collagen, the main protein preserved in subfossil bone and tooth, has long provided a powerful tool for the reconstruction of ancient diets and environments. Although isotopic studies of contemporary ecosystems have typically focused on more accessible tissues (e.g. muscle, hair), there is growing interest in the potential for...
Article
Full-text available
RATIONALE : Stable sulfur isotope compositions (δ ³⁴S values) are a useful marker of terrestrial (lower δ ³⁴S) versus marine (higher δ ³⁴S) diets. In coastal areas, ³⁴S‐enriched sea spray can obscure these marine/terrestrial differences. We sought to establish whether δ ³⁴S values of sea spray‐affected terrestrial fauna can be distinguished from th...
Article
Prior to their extirpation around 1900 CE, Lake Ontario hosted the world’s largest freshwater Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) fishery. Due to their early disappearance, questions remained about fundamental aspects of the species’ biology, such as whether they belonged to sea-run (anadromous) or freshwater resident (potamodromous) ecotypes. Recent iso...
Article
Full-text available
The ability to distinguish between different migratory behaviours (e.g., anadromy and potamodromy) in fish can provide important insights into the ecology, evolution, and conservation of many aquatic species. We present a simple stable carbon isotope (δ 13 C) approach for distinguishing between sockeye (anadromous ocean migrants) and kokanee (potam...
Article
Marine mammals often exhibit significant sexual segregation in their diet and habitat use but these differences have not been studied systematically in historic or ancient populations due to the difficulties associated with determining the sex of skeletal elements based on gross morphology. Using a combined ancient DNA and stable isotope approach,...
Article
Full-text available
Management of camelids in the coastal valleys of the Andes has generated much debate in recent years. Zooarchaeological and isotopic studies have demonstrated that in the coastal valleys of northern and southern Peru there were locally maintained camelid herds. Because of the hyperarid conditions of the northern coast of Chile, this region has been...
Article
Despite the longstanding significance of North America's Great Lakes, little is known about their preindustrial ecology. Here, we report on when and how humans first became a main driver of Lake Ontario's nutrient dynamics. Nitrogen isotope analyses of archaeological fish show that, prior to the 1830s, Lake Ontario's nitrogen cycle and the trophic...
Article
Full-text available
In 1990, a skull from a morphologically unusual Monodontid was found in West Greenland and collected for the Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen. From its intermediate morphology, the skull was hypothesized to be a beluga/narwhal hybrid. If confirmed, the specimen would, to our knowledge, represent the sole evidence of hybri...
Article
Living sloths represent two distinct lineages of small-sized mammals that independently evolved arboreality from terrestrial ancestors. The six extant species are the survivors of an evolutionary radiation marked by the extinction of large terrestrial forms at the end of the Quaternary. Until now sloth evolutionary history has mainly been reconstru...
Article
Full-text available
This study presents sulfur isotope compositions (δ³⁴S) for plants grown in a series of growth chamber and field experiments under controlled conditions. Maize, beans, and squash fertilized with a marine fertilizer (seabird guano) were significantly enriched in ³⁴S relative to the unfertilized control plants (by +4.0 to +7.2‰) in the growth chamber...
Article
Full-text available
Over 60% of the modern distribution range of brown bears falls within Russia, yet palaeoecological data from the region remain scarce. Complete modern Russian brown bear mitogenomes are abundant in the published literature, yet examples of their ancient counterparts are absent. Similarly, there is only limited stable isotopic data of prehistoric br...
Article
Full-text available
The social groups that initially inhabited the hyper arid core of the Atacama Desert of northern Chile during the late Pleistocene integrated a wide range of local, regional and supra regional goods and ideas for their social reproduction as suggested by the archaeological evidence contained in several open camps in Pampa del Tamarugal (PdT). Local...
Article
Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope compositions were determined for camelid bone collagen, hair, and wool (fibre) sampled from textiles from archaeological sites in the Santa Valley (north coast of Perú) occupied during Moche III (El Castillo, A.D. 300−500) and Moche IV (Guadalupito, A.D. 500−700) phases; a small number of camelid bone collagen sam...
Article
Full-text available
Human societies depend on an Earth system that operates within a constrained range of nutrient availability, yet the recent trajectory of terrestrial nitrogen (N) availability is uncertain. Examining patterns of foliar N concentrations and isotope ratios (δ15N) from more than 43,000 samples acquired over 37 years, here we show that foliar N concent...
Article
Full-text available
Archaeological sites in the Canadian Arctic often contain substantial quantities of marine mammal bones and in some cases completely lack terrestrial mammal bones. A distrust of radiocarbon ( ¹⁴ C) dates on marine mammal bones among Arctic archaeologists has caused many sites to be insufficiently dated. The goal of this study was to investigate the...
Article
Full-text available
Humans have always affected their ecosystems, but finding evidence for significant and lasting changes to preindustrial landscapes is rare. We report on human-caused changes to the nitrogen cycle in Ireland in the Bronze Age, associated with intensification of agriculture and animal husbandry that resulted in long-term changes to the nitrogen isoto...
Article
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Mylodon darwinii is the extinct giant ground sloth named after Charles Darwin, who first collected its remains in South America. We have successfully obtained a high-quality mitochondrial genome at 99-fold coverage using an Illumina shotgun sequencing of a 12 880-year-old bone fragment from Mylodon Cave in Chile. Low level of DNA damage showed that...
Article
Stable carbon and nitrogen isotopic compositions were determined for wool textiles from the Lambayeque (c. ad 1100–1320) occupation at Pacatnamú in the Jequetepeque Valley, northern Peru. The isotopic data demonstrate that the wool was not obtained via long-distance exchange with the highlands and was most probably derived from locally raised camel...
Article
This study compared bone collagen extraction techniques that included treatment with sodium hydroxide and 30 kDa ultrafilters using a set of well-preserved, humic-contaminated archaeological marine mammal bones. Treatment with sodium hydroxide was effective at removing humic contaminants from archaeological bone, although yields were significantly...
Article
Carbon and nitrogen isotope analyses were performed on marine mammal bone collagen from three archaeological sites (A.D. 1170-1813) on Cape Espenberg (Kotzebue Sound, northwestern Alaska) as well as modern animals harvested from the same area to examine long-term trends in foraging ecology and sea ice productivity. We observed significant and drama...
Article
The use of isotopic measurements in archaeological research has increased rapidly over the past ~ 25 years, owing largely to the proliferation of the instruments required to produce these measurements relatively quickly and cheaply. Unfortunately, the understanding of how to adequately calibrate and report these isotopic data has not kept pace. We...
Article
Historical zooarchaeologists have made significant contributions to key questions about the social, economic, and nutritional dimensions of domestic animal use in North American colonial contexts; however, techniques commonly employed in faunal analyses do not offer a means of assessing many important aspects of how animals were husbanded and trade...
Article
Full-text available
The intensive commercial exploitation of California sheephead (Semicossyphus pulcher) has become a complex, multimillion-dollar industry. The fishery is of concern because of high harvest levels and potential indirect impacts of sheephead removals on the structure and function of kelp forest ecosystems. California sheephead are proto-gynous hermaph...
Article
Full-text available
Lake Ontario once supported a large complex of Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar) populations that became extinct prior to scientific study. Since the 1860s, research efforts to conserve and reintroduce a sustainable population of Atlantic Salmon have focused on determining whether Lake Ontario’s original salmon populations had migrated to the Atlantic...
Presentation
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5h_xiPuwMoA | Isotopic analyses of carbon and nitrogen are conventionally employed in bioarcheology for dietary reconstructions. These elements are however contained in the bone collagen which deteriorates over time. Mass spectrometry advances now allow trace element isotope analyses of bioapatite. First studies on Z...
Article
Full-text available
Rationale: Fish bone collagen isotopic measurements are increasingly important in palaeodietary and paleoenvironmental studies yet differences in the chemical and physical properties of fish relative to other vertebrate bones are rarely considered. Lipid content in fish bone, which can exceed 50%, may underlie the poor collagen integrity criteria...
Article
Full-text available
After evolving in Africa at the close of the Miocene, mammoths (Mammuthus sp.) spread through much of the northern hemisphere, diversifying morphologically as they entered various habitats. Paleontologically, these morphs are conventionally recognized as species. In Pleistocene North America alone, several mammoth species have been recognized, inha...
Article
Full-text available
Carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratios of bone collagen are an established method for dietary reconstruction, but this method is limited by the protein preservation. Zinc (Zn) is found in bioapatite and the isotopic compositions of this element constitute a very promising dietary indicator. The extent of fractionation of Zn isotopes in marine en...
Data
Figure A. Relationship between Zn isotopic compositions of terrestrial and marine mammal bones and trophic levels. Table A. Location, type of samples, species, collagen preservation, concentrations (C, N, Zn) and isotopic compositions (C, N, Zn) of the different marine mammal samples analyzed in the study. Table B. δ66Zn values of in house standard...
Data
Table A. Standard reference materials used for calibration of δ13C relative to VPDB and δ15N relative to AIR. Table B. Standard reference materials used to monitor internal accuracy and precision. Table C. Accuracy and precision of calibration and check standards for each analytical. Table D. Accuracy and precision of calibration and check standard...