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Book Chapter

Nutrient hotspots through time: A field guide to modern and fossil taphonomy in east Tennessee

By
Sarah W. Keenan
Sarah W. Keenan
University of Tennessee, Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science, 2506 E.J. Chapman Drive, Knoxville, Tennessee 37996, USA
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Christopher Widga
Christopher Widga
East Tennessee State University, Center of Excellence in Paleontology, 1212 Suncrest Drive, Gray, Tennessee 37615, USA
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Jennifer M. DeBruyn
Jennifer M. DeBruyn
University of Tennessee, Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science, 2506 E.J. Chapman Drive, Knoxville, Tennessee 37996, USA
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Sean M. Schaeffer
Sean M. Schaeffer
University of Tennessee, Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science, 2506 E.J. Chapman Drive, Knoxville, Tennessee 37996, USA
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Published:
March 29, 2018
Publication history
08 January 2018

ABSTRACT

Hotspots represent the ephemeral introduction of nutrients into an environment, and occur in both the modern and geologic past. The annual deposition of deciduous leaves in temperate forests, tree falls, animal excrement, and vertebrate carcass deposition all result in the pulsed introduction of nutrients to an ecosystem. Hotspots are critical for providing limiting nutrients, including nitrogen and carbon, to be incorporated into soil microbial biomass and plant biomass. For vertebrate ­carcasses, following the release of labile compounds from soft tissues, bones are often left behind, and provide a more recalcitrant reservoir of organic carbon and nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, and, in some environments, water, for micro- and macro-fauna. Taphonomy—the physical, chemical, and biological processes following plant or animal death—studied in modern systems can be used to interpret hotspot processes operating in the past. East Tennessee is a region where studies of modern and fossil vertebrate hotspots have provided new insights into taphonomy. This guide describes two hotspot localities in east Tennessee—the Miocene-aged Gray Fossil Site in Gray, Tennessee, and the Anthropology Research Facility (“the Body Farm”) at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, a human decomposition experimental site. The goal of this interdisciplinary field guide is to provide a view of nutrient hotspots from their formation in the modern to their preservation over geologic time.

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Contents

GSA Field Guides

Geology at Every Scale: Field Excursions for the 2018 GSA Southeastern Section Meeting in Knoxville, Tennessee

Annette Summers Engel
Annette Summers Engel
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Robert D. Hatcher, Jr.
Robert D. Hatcher, Jr.
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Geological Society of America
Volume
50
ISBN electronic:
9780813756509
Publication date:
March 29, 2018

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