Oxygen isotope compositions of bone phosphate (δ18Op) were measured in broiler chickens reared in 21 farms worldwide characterized by contrasted latitudes and local climates. These sedentary birds were raised during an approximately 3 to 4-month period, and local precipitation was the ultimate source of their drinking water. This sampling strategy allowed the relationship to be determined between the bone phosphate δ18Op values (from 9.8 to 22.5‰ V-SMOW) and the local rainfall δ18Ow values estimated from nearby IAEA/WMO stations (from -16.0 to -1.0‰ V-SMOW). Linear least square fitting of data provided the following isotopic fractionation equation: δ18Ow = 1.119 (±0.040) δ18Op - 24.222 (±0.644); R 2 = 0.98. The δ18Op-δ18Ow couples of five extant mallard ducks, a common buzzard, a European herring gull, a common ostrich, and a greater rhea fall within the predicted range of the equation, indicating that the relationship established for extant chickens can also be applied to birds of various ecologies and body masses. Applied to published oxygen isotope compositions of Miocene and Pliocene penguins from Peru, this new equation computes estimates of local seawater similar to those previously calculated. Applied to the basal bird Confuciusornis from the Early Cretaceous of Northeastern China, our equation gives a slightly higher δ18Ow value compared to the previously estimated one, possibly as a result of lower body temperature. These data indicate that caution should be exercised when the relationship estimated for modern birds is applied to their basal counterparts that likely had a metabolism intermediate between that of their theropod dinosaur ancestors and that of advanced ornithurines.
- Fractionation equation
- Oxygen isotope