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Socioeconomic and geographic implications from carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur isotope ratios in human hair from Mexico

NCJ Number
Forensic Science International Volume: 316 Dated: 2020
Date Published

This article presents data on carbon (C), nitrogen (N), and sulfur (S) isotopic composition of human hair collected throughout Mexico.


The recorded values ranged from −18.3 percent to −12.8 percent for δ13C, 6.8 percent to 10.8 percent for δ15N, and from 2.7 percent to 8.0 percent for δ34S. The socioeconomic covariates explored in this study showed, in part, strong correlations with the recorded isotope values. Furthermore, these three isotope systems provide records of the dietary preferences and practices and showed some spatial variation. This study detected geospatial patterning in the δ13C values of hair samples from Mexico, as well as significant correlations with socioeconomic factors. No geospatial variation was detected in the δ15N and δ34S values, however, socioeconomic correlations were found. A δ13C isoscape was generated using a GIS approach, which provides a tool to narrow down region-of-origin predictions (in combination with other isotope systems) and to document the travel history of unidentified individuals. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2020