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Durham University

Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS)

Members

The list below shows Durham University research staff who are members of IMEMS. Click the member's name to see a more detailed biography and department.

We also welcome anyone from outside the University with an interest in our work to join. Membership is free of charge. You will receive invitations to our programme of events, with a weekly emails digest about what is happening in the Insitute and further afield. To join IMEMS contact: admin.imems@durham.ac.uk

Publication details for Dr Karen Milek

Harrault, Loïc, Milek, Karen, Jardé, Emilie, Jeanneau,Laurent, Derrien, Morgane & Anderson, David (2019). Faecal biomarkers can distinguish specific mammalian species in modern and past environments. PLoS ONE 14(2): e0211119.

Author(s) from Durham

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 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.