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Multiple stable isotope (18O, 13C, 15N and 34S) analysis of human hair to identify the recent migrants in a rural community in SW England



Relationships between recent migration and hair δ18O values were examined for 40 people living in a rural community in SW England. The isotopic contents of 35 ‘local’ hair samples were compared with those of 5 recently arrived individuals (from Australia, Canada, Chile, Germany and the USA). The hair δ18O values of these ‘visitors’ were +7.9 (Omaha, USA), +11.2 (Jena, Germany), +12.1 (Osorno, Chile), +12.6 (Montreal, Canada) and +14.3‰ (Adelaide, Australia). The hair value for the USA visitor (+7.9‰) fell outside the range for the 33 local adult residents, +10.5 to +14.3‰ (+12.7 ± 0.8‰). Hair δ18O values did not identify the individuals from Adelaide, Montreal and Osorno as ‘visitors’, but hair δ13C or δ34S data did. Combining the hair δ18O, δ13C and δ34S values using principal components analysis (two components explained 89% of the overall variation among the 40 subjects) helped to more clearly distinguish European from non-European individuals, indicating the existence of global overall isotope (geo-origin) relationships. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.