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Faecal biomarkers can distinguish specific mammalian species in modern and past environments

Abstract : Identifying the presence of animals based on faecal deposits in modern and ancient environments is of primary importance to archaeologists, ecologists, forensic scientists, and watershed managers, but it has proven difficult to distinguish faecal material to the species level. Until now, four 5β-stanols have been deployed as faecal biomarkers to distinguish between omnivores and herbivores, but they cannot distinguish between species. Here we present a database of faecal signatures from ten omnivore and herbivore species based on eleven 5β-stanol compounds, which enables us to distinguish for the first time the faecal signatures of a wide range of animals. We validated this fingerprinting method by testing it on modern and ancient soil samples containing known faecal inputs and successfully distinguished the signatures of different omnivores and herbivores.
Keywords : GEOF
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Loïc Harrault, Karen Milek, Emilie Jardé, Laurent Jeanneau, Morgane Derrien, et al.. Faecal biomarkers can distinguish specific mammalian species in modern and past environments. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2019, 14 (2), pp.e0211119. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0211119⟩. ⟨insu-02013794⟩

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