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Keywords:

  • mechanistic model;
  • Macaca fascicularis;
  • stable isotopes;
  • cynomolgus monkey

The stable isotopic composition of drinking water, diet, and atmospheric oxygen influence the isotopic composition of body water (2H/1H, 18O/16O expressed as δ2H and δ18O). In turn, body water influences the isotopic composition of organic matter in tissues, such as hair and teeth, which are often used to reconstruct historical dietary and movement patterns of animals and humans. Here, we used a nonhuman primate system (Macaca fascicularis) to test the robustness of two different mechanistic stable isotope models: a model to predict the δ2H and δ18O values of body water and a second model to predict the δ2H and δ18O values of hair. In contrast to previous human-based studies, use of nonhuman primates fed controlled diets allowed us to further constrain model parameter values and evaluate model predictions. Both models reliably predicted the δ2H and δ18O values of body water and of hair. Moreover, the isotope data allowed us to better quantify values for two critical variables in the models: the δ2H and δ18O values of gut water and the 18O isotope fractionation associated with a carbonyl oxygen–water interaction in the gut (αow). Our modeling efforts indicated that better predictions for body water and hair isotope values were achieved by making the isotopic composition of gut water approached that of body water. Additionally, the value of αow was 1.0164, in close agreement with the only other previously measured observation (microbial spore cell walls), suggesting robustness of this fractionation factor across different biological systems. Am. J. Primatol. 74:651–660, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.