isotopic fractionation

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The analysis of the ratios of different stable isotopes of an element that is present in a given material. The proportions of different stable isotopes of elements such as nitrogen and carbon can be used to trace the origin of the element within ecosystems, depending upon the ratios of the different isotopes. Nitrogen isotopes, for example, have been used to detect the contribution of migrating salmon in inland streams to the influx and general nitrogen economy of surrounding terrestrial ecosystems.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation.

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