We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

Faecal biomarkers can distinguish specific mammalian species in modern and past environments.

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


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.

Item Type:Article
Full text:Publisher-imposed embargo
(AM) Accepted Manuscript
File format - PDF
Full text:(VoR) Version of Record
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution.
Download PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:Copyright: © 2019 Harrault et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Date accepted:16 January 2019
Date deposited:22 January 2019
Date of first online publication:07 February 2019
Date first made open access:20 February 2019

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar