Crustal Geophysics and Geochemistry Science Center

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Project status is complete. Please check the CGGSC project list for currently active projects.

Geochemical and isotope studies of the evolution of ore deposits and reimbursable technology transfer

Stable isotope, fluid inclusion, active gas chemistry, noble gas isotope, and solute chemistry techniques are exceptionally powerful tools in the study of fundamental processes operating during the evolution of ore deposits. Some of these techniques, particularly stable isotopes, are also powerful in the study of the processes that occur during the entire life cycle of ore deposits from genesis to natural destruction and post mining remediation. In this project the full potential of each of these techniques was developed and their combined potential applied in an integrated fashion in multidisciplinary studies to acquire essential knowledge about fundamental problems of the genesis of ore deposits. Furthermore, stable isotope techniques were applied to studies of the entire life cycle of mineral resources. This life cycle includes assessments, exploration, genesis, natural and anthropogenic modification, ore processing, remediation and reclamation.

Project Objectives

The objective of the project was to facilitate the applications of the full potential of integrated stable (C, H, N, O, S), noble gas isotope, and fluid inclusion gas and solute chemistry techniques to multidisciplinary studies of fundamental processes that occur during the evolution of ore deposits. In addition the full potential of stable isotope technology was applied to studies of fundamental processes over the entire life cycle of mineral resources from genesis and discovery to mineral recycling and disposal. The fundamental knowledge acquired by these studies was closely integrated with the current development of genetic and geoenvironmental models of ore deposits by other Mineral Resources Program (MRP) projects. The knowledge acquired in these studies is not specific to mineral resources and can also be applied to a broad spectrum of societally relevant issues that interface with current investigations by MRP scientists. Among these issues are the relation between hydrothermal alteration on volcanoes and landslides, the controls of cyanide degradation in ore processing, accidental spills and heaps undergoing closure, and the relation of life cycle of mineral resource process to water quality and human health. In addition this knowledge can be applied to the study of ecosystems and animal ecology.

Relevance & Impact

The combined fluid inclusion, active gas, noble gas isotope, and stable isotope laboratories are a major MRP asset that offers a unique and exceptionally powerful combination of tools to study processes over the entire live cycle of ore deposits. The integration of these analytical laboratory capabilities within a single project is without precedent and results in unique scientific capabilities. These laboratories now have the instrumental capability to meet the need of a substantial n number of MRP projects in addition to reimbursable Geologic Discipline (GD), Water Resources Discipline (WRD), Biological Resources Discipline (BRD) and outside-funded projects. The project provided critical new knowledge to advance the understanding of ore genesis and the evolving art of mineral and geoenvironmental assessments. These studies were required to insure that such assessments are conducted at the highest level of scientific integrity. The studies conducted by the project will play a major role in the development and direction of other Program projects. The knowledge gained from the study of the life cycle of ore deposits can have a major impact on societally relevant issues in hazards, ecosystems, global climate change, ground water quality, and human health. Increasingly, BRD scientists are requesting stable isotope data support and transfer of stable isotope geochemical technology for studies of ecosystems and animal ecology.

Project Chief:

Robert Rye Box 25046 MS 963
Denver, CO 80225
(303) 236-7907
rrye@usgs.gov

Products

  • Rye, R.O., Johnson, C.A., Landis, G.P., Hofstra, A.H., Emsbo, P., Stricker, C.A., Hunt, A.G., and Rusk, B.G., 2008, Isotope and Chemical Methods in Support of the U.S. Geological Survey Science Strategy, 2003-2008: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2008-3083, 6 p.

Other products are listed according to task:

Tasks Title
Task 1 Stable isotope studies of the evolution of ore deposits
Task 2 Fluid inclusion - noble gas isotope geochemistry
Task 3 Fluid inclusion - chemical, volatile, and stable isotopic compositions
Task 4 Fluid inclusion - solute chemistry
Task 5 Stable isotopes and cyanide geochemistry
Task 6 Development of microbeam stable isotope techniques
Task 7 Development of continuous flow IRMS stable isotope techniques
Task 8 Stable isotope analytical support
Task 9 Technology transfer to Biological Resources Discipilne (BRD) and Water Resources Discipline (WRD)

Task 1 - Stable isotope studies of the evolution of ore deposits

Presentations

  • Church, C.D., Alpers, C.N., Rye, R.O., Wilkin, R.T. 2005, Evidence for metal attenuation in acid mine water by sulfate reduction, Penn Mine, Calaveras County, California. Abstracts with Programs.
  • Diehl, S.F., Hofstra, A.H., Koenig, A.E., Christiansen, W., Johnson, C.A., Emsbo, P., and Lufkin, J., 2007, Brine migration and formation of hydrothermal zebra dolomite, Sedex, and Pb-Zn deposits along the Paleozoic carbonate platformof the Great Basin, Nevada and Utah: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Prorams, vol. 39, no. 6, p. 537. View Diehl GSA abstract.
  • Dilles, J.H., Field, C.W., Houston, R.A., Kent, A.J.R., Reed, L.M.H., Rusk, B.G., Miller, B., Martin, M.W., Rye, R.O., Snee, L.W., and Stein, H.J., Lessons from Butte, Montana: Exploration and Mining Applications from Recent Research, USGS.
  • Fifarek, R.H., Rusk, B.G., and Rye, R.O., 2006, Fluid inclusion evidence for magmatic brine below the Summitville, CO high-sulfidation CU-Au deposit and its potential relationship to the Brittle-ductile transition and mineralization: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Prorams, vol. 38, no. 7, p. 348. View Fifarek GSA abstract.
  • Johnson, C.A., and Emsbo, P., 2005, Possible impact of hydrothermal brine discharge events on sulfur isotopes in marine basins and the global oceans: Earth Systems Processes 2, no. 1, p. 55. View Johnson ESP2 abstract.
  • Johnson, C.A., Landis, G., and Bookstrom, A.A., 2007, Sulfur and helium isotopes in the cobalt+copper±gold deposits of the Idaho Cobalt Belt: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Prorams, vol. 39, no. 9, p. 412. View Johnson GSA abstract.
  • Rusk, B.G., Hofstra, A.H., Emsbo, P., Hunt, A.G., Landis, G.P., and Rye, R.O., 2007, Origin and compositions of fluids that form porphyry Cu (Mo-Au) deposits: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Prorams, vol. 39, no. 9, p. 608. View Rusk GSA abstract.
  • Shanks, W.C., Balistrieri, L, Rye, R.O., Schwartz, C., 2005, Hydrothermal mercury in the Yellowstone lake system: Goldschmidt conference, Geochemica et Cosmochemica Acta, vol. 69, p. A701.
  • Snee, L.W., Foord, E.E., Morton, D.M., Landis, G.P., Rye, R.O., and Sheppard, J.B., 2006, Pegmatite Genesis-Complex or Simple Emplacement? Revisiting Southern California Pegmatites: 2006 Gemological Institute of America Geomological Research Conference.

Reports

  • Bat-erdene, K., Rye, R.O., Hedenquist, J.W., and Kavalieris, I., 2006, Geology and reconnaissance stable isotope study of the Oyu Tolgoi porphyry Cu-Au system, South Gobi, Mongolia: Economic Geology, vol. 101, pp. 503-522.
  • Bethke, P.M., Rye, R.O., Stoffregen, R.E., and Vikre, P.G., 2005, Evolution of the magmatic-hydrothermal acid-sulfate system at Summitville, Colorado: Integration of geological, stable-isotope, and fluid-inclusion evidence: Chemical Geology, vol. 215, pp. 281-315.
  • Cunningham, C.G., Austin, G.W., Naeser, C.W., Rye, R.O., Ballantyne, G.H., Stamm, R.G., and Barker, C.E., 2004, Formation of a paleothermal anomaly and disseminated gold deposits associated with the Bingham Canyon porphyry Cu-Au-Mo system, Utah: Economic Geology, vol. 99, pp. 789-806.
  • Cunningham, C.G., Rye, R.O., Rockwell, B.W., Kunk, M.J., and Councell, T.B., 2005, Supergene destruction of a hydrothermal replacement alunite deposit at Big Rock Candy Mountain, Utah: Mineralogy, spectroscopic remote sensing, stable-isotope, and argon-age evidences: Chemical Geology, vol. 215, pp. 317-338.
  • Dennen, K.O., Johnson, C.A., Otter, M.L., Silva, S.R., and Wandless, G.A., 2006, delta 15N and non-carbonate delta 13C values for two petroleum source rock reference materials and a marine sediment reference material: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2006-1071, 7 p.
  • Deyell, C.L., Leonardson, R., Rye, R.O., Thompson, J.F.H., Bissig, T., and Cooke, D.R., 2005, Alunite in the Pascua-Lama high-sulfidation deposit: Constraints on alteration and ore deposition using stable isotope geochemistry: Economic Geology, vol. 100, pp. 131-218.
  • Deyell, C.L., Rye, R.O., Landis, G.P., and Bissing, T, 2005, Alunite and the role of magmatic fluids in the Tambo high-sulfidation deposit, El Indio-Pascua belt, Chile: Chemical Geology, vol. 215, pp. 185-218.
  • Duuring, P., Hagemann, S.G., Cassidy, K.F., and Johnson, C.A., 2004, Hydrothermal alteration, ore fluid characteristics, and gold depositional processes along a trondhjemite-komatiite contact at Tarmoola, Western Australia: Economic Geology, vol. 99, pp. 423-451.
  • Field, C.W., Zhang, L., Dilles, J.H., Rye, R.O., and Reed, M.H., 2005, Sulfur and oxygen isotopic record in sulfate and sulfide minerals of early, deep, pre-Main Stage porphyry Cu-Mo and late Main Stage base-metal deposits, Butte District, Montana: Chemical Geology, vol. 215, pp. 61-94.
  • Fifarek, R.H., and Rye, R.O., 2005, Stable-isotope geochmistry of the Pierina high-sulfidation Au-Ag deposit, Peru: Influence of hydrodynamics on SO42-H2S sulfur isotopic exchange in magmatic-steam and steam-heated environments: Chemical Geology, vol. 215, pp. 235-252.
  • John, D.A., Sisson, T.W., Breit, G.N., Rye, R.O., and Vallance, J.W., 2008, Characteristics, extent and origin of hydrothermal alteration at Mount Rainier Volcano, Cascades Arc, USA: Implications for debris-flow hazards and mineral deposits: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 175 (3), pp. 289-314.
  • Juliani, C., Rye, R.O., Nunes, C.M.D., Snee, L.W., Corrêa Silva, R.H., Monteiro, L.V.S., Bettencourt, J.S., Neumann, R. , and Neto, A.A., 2005, Paleoproterozoic high-sulfidation mineralization in the Tapajós gold province, Amazonian Craton, Brazil: Geology, mineralogy, alunite argon age, and stable-isotope contraints: Chemical Geology, vol. 215, pp. 95-126.
  • Khashgerel B.-E., Rye, R.O., Hedenquist, J.W., and Kavalieris, I., 2006, Geology and reconnaissance stable isotope study of the Oyu Tolgoi porphyry Cu-Au system, South Gobi, Mongolia: Economic Geology, vol. 101, pp. 503-522.
  • Lueth, V.W., Rye, R.O., and Peters, L., 2005, "Sour gas" hydrothermal jarosite: Ancient to modern acid-sulfate mineralization in the southern Rio Grande Rift: Chemical Geology, vol. 215, pp. 339-360.
  • Mair, J.L., Goldfarb, R.J., Johnson, C.A., Hart, C.J.R., and Marsh, E.E., 2006, Geochemical constraints on the genesis of the Scheelite Dome intrusion-related gold deposit, Tombstone Gold Belt, Yukon, Canada: Economic Geology, vol. 101, pp. 523-553.
  • Monteiro, L.V.S., Xavier, R.P., de Carvalho, E.R., Hitzman, M.W., Johnson, C.A., de Souza Filho, C.R.,. and Torresi, I., 2007, Spatial and temporal zoning of hydrothermal alteration and mineraization in the Sossego iron oxide-copper-gold deposit, Carajás Mineal Province, Brazil: paragensis and stable isotope constraints: Mineralium Deposita.
  • Monteiro, L.V.S., Xavier, R.P., Johnson, C., Hitzman, M.W., Carvalho, E.R., and Souza Filho, C.R., 2005, The Sossego iron oxide-copper-gold deposit, Carajás Mineral Province, Brazil: stable isotope constraints on the genesis and hydrothermal system evolution, in Simposio Basileiro de Metalogenia, 1, Gramado, Short Papers [CD-ROM].
  • Nordstrom, D.K., Wright, W.G., Mast, M.A., Bove, D.J., and Rye, R.O., 2005, Aqueous-sulfate stable isotopes: a study of mining-disturbed and undisturbed natural acidic drainage, in, Church, S.E., von Guerard, P., and Finger, S.E., eds., Integrated Investigations of Environmental Effects of Historical Mining in the Animas River Watershed, San Juan County, Colorado: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1651, pp. 387-416.
  • Rockwell, B.W., Cunningham, C.G., Breit, G.N., and Rye, R.O., 2006, Spectroscopic mapping of the White Horse alunite deposit, Marysvale volcanic field, Utah: Evidence of a magmatic component: Economic Geology, vol. 101, pp. 1377-1395.
  • Otton, J.K., Zielinski, R.A., and Johnson, C.A., 2005, Origin of saline soils in the Front Range area north of Denver, Colorado, Chapter D, in Fishman, N.S., ed., Energy resource studies, northern Front Range, Colorado: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1698, pp. 73-87.
  • Rye, R.O., 2005, A review of the stable-isotope geochemistry of sulfate minerals in selected igneous environments and related hydrothermal systems: Chemical Geology, vol. 215, pp. 5-36.
  • Vikre, P.G., Fleck, R., and Rye, R.O., 2005, Ages and geochemistry of magmatic hydrothermal alunites in the Goldfield district, Esmeralda County, Nevada: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2005-1258.
  • Zielinski, R.A., Johnson, C.A., and Adams, J.L., 2005, Use of sulfur isotopes to monitor dissolved sulfate derived from a fly ash emplacement site, north-central Colorado: Proceedings Volume, World of Coal Ash Conference, April 11-15, 2005, Lexington, KY. http://www.flyash.info
  • Zimbelman, D.R., Rye, R.O., and Breit, G.N., 2005, Origin of secondary sulfate minerals on active andesitic stratovolcanoes: Chemical Geology, vol. 215, pp. 27-59.

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Task 2 - Fluid inclusion - noble gas isotope geochemistry

Presentations

  • Farmer, A., Abril, M., Bern, C., Fernandez, M., Kester, C., Landis, G., Ridley, I., Rye, R., and Torres, J., 2004, Identifying South American Wintering Sites of Migratory Shorebirds: A Case for Multiple Stable Isotope and Trace Element Analyses, in 4th Conference on Applications of Stable Isotope Techniques to Ecological Studies, Wellington, New Zealand, Abstracts with Program, p. 56.
  • Landis, G.P., 2006, Thermal diffusion, volatile retention, and fluid inclusion gas compositions of terrestrial alunite and jarosite: implications for Martian sulfate minerals, in Martian Sulfates as Recorders of Atmospheric-Fluid-Rock Interactions NASA Workshop, October 22, 2006, Houston.

Reports

  • Landis, G.P., Snee, L.W., and Juliani, C., 2005, Evaluation of argon ages and integrity of fluid inclusion compositions: Stepwise noble gas heating experiments on 1.87-Ga alunite from Tapajos Province, Brazil: Chemical Geology, vol. 215, pp. 127-153.
  • Landis, G.P., and Rye, R.O., 2005, Characterization of gas chemistry and noble-gas isotope ratios of inclusion fluids in magmatic-hydrothermal and magmatic-steam alunite: Chemical Geology, vol. 215, pp. 155-184.

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Task 3 - Fluid inclusion - chemical, volatile, and stable isotopic compositions

  • No products listed.

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Task 4 - Fluid inclusion - solute chemistry

Presentations

  • Emsbo, P., 2003, Spikes in the global 87Sr/86Sr record due to oceanic venting of basinal brines during sedex hydrothermal events: U.S. Geological Survey Central Region Colloquium talk, April 10, 2003.

Reports

  • Emsbo, P., and Breit, G., 2004, Spikes in the global 87Sr/86Sr record due to oceanic venting of basinal brines during sedex hydrothermal events, in Bradley, D.C, and Dewey, J., eds., Secular Variation in Tectonics and Allied Fields, Penrose Short course Proceedings, pp. 19-21.
  • Hofstra, A. H., and Emsbo, P, 2005, Source of salt in hydrothermal fluids based on Na-Cl-Br of fluid inclusions [abs.]: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, vol. 69, no. 10S, p. 881.
  • Leach, D.L., Macquar, J.-C., Lagneau, V., Leventhal, J., Emsbo P., and Premo, W., 2006, Precipitation of lead-zinc ores in the Mississippi Valley-type deposits at Trèves, Cévennes region of southern France: Geofluids, 6 (1), pp. 24-44.
  • Leach, D. L., Marsh, E., Emsbo, P., Rombach, C.S., Kelley, K.D., and Anthony, M., 2004, Nature of the hydrothermal fluids at the shale-hosted Red Dog Zn-Pb-Ag deposits, Brooks Range, Alaska: Economic Geology, vol. 99, pp. 1449-1480.

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Task 5 - Stable isotopes and cyanide geochemistry

Databases

  • Annual Book of ASTM Standards, vol. 11.02 (2004).

Presentations

  • Johnson, C.A., Grimes, D.J., Leinz, R.W., and Rye, R.O., 2005, Cobalt-cyanide complexing in ore processing effluents at gold mines: Significance for cyanide persistence and cobalt mobility: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, vol. 37, no. 7, p. 179. View Johnson 2005 GSA abstract.
  • Johnson, C.A., 2007, The persistence of cyanide in heap leach wastes at gold mines: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, vol. 39, no. 6, p. 31. View Johnson 2007 GSA abstract.

Reports

  • Johnson, C.A., Grimes, D.J., Leinz, R.W., and Rye, R.O., 2008, Cyanide speciation at four gold leach operations undergoing remediation: Environmental Science and Technology, 42 (4), pp. 1038-1044.
  • Little, E.E., Calfee, R.D., Theodorakos, P., Brown, Z.A., and Johnson, C.A., 2007, Toxicity of cobalt-complexed cyanide to Oncorhynchus mykiss, Dephnia magna, and Ceriodaphnia dubia: Potentiation by ultraviolet radiation and attenuation by dissolved organic carbon and adaptive UV tolerance: Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 14 (5), pp. 333-337.

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Task 6 - Development of microbeam stable isotope techniques

  • Balci, N., Shanks, W.C. III, Mayer, B., and Mandernack, K.W., 2007, Oxygen and sulfur isotope systematics of sulfate produced by bacterial and abiotic oxidation of pyrite: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 71 (15), pp. 3796-3811.

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Task 7 - Development of continuous flow IRMS stable isotope techniques

  • No products listed for this task.

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Task 8 - Stable isotope analytical support

Reports

  • Otton, J.K., Zielinski, R.A., and Johnson, C.A., 2005, Origin of saline soils in the Front Range area north of Denver, Colorado, Chapter D, in Fishman, N.S., ed., Energy resource studies, northern Front Range, Colorado: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1698, pp. 73-87.
  • Zielinski, R.A., Johnson, C.A., and Adams, J.L., 2005, Use of sulfur isotopes to monitor dissolved sulfate derived from a fly ash emplacement site, north-central Colorado: Proceedings Volume, World of Coal Ash Conference, April 11-15, 2005, Lexington, KY, http://www.flyash.info

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Task 9 - Technology transfer to BRD and WRD

Posters

  • Barros, N.B., P.H. Ostrom, C.A. Stricker and R.S. Wells, Bottlenose dolphin population differentiation and trophic studies using carbon, nitrogen and sulfur isotopes and stomach content analyses.
  • Kovach, S.D., G.H. Collins, C.A. Stricker, R.O. Rye, and S.D. Farley, and M.T. Hinkes, Hair segment analysis of female Alaskan brown bears: resolving seasonal salmon consumption with sulfur isotopes.
  • Rea, L.D., Pitcher, K.W., Steagall, V.K., Farley, S.D., Pitcher, K.W., Rye, R.O., Kester, C.L., Bern, C.R., Changes in carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios in Stellar sealion vibrissae as a biochemical marker for weaning.
  • Steagall, V.K., Farley, S.D., Rea, L.D., Pitcher, K.W., Rye, R.O., Kester, C.L., Bern, C.R., Stable isotope comparisons of Alaska steller sea lion mik, serum and vibrissae: investigating nutritional independence and trophic dynamics.
  • Stricker, C.A., R.O. Rye, C.A. Johnson, and C. Bern., An automated cryo-focusing approach for sulfur isotope analysis of organic and other low-level sulfur materials.

Presentations

  • Farmer, A., Abril, M., Bern, C.,Fernandez, M., Kester, C., Ridley, I., Rye, R.O., and Torres, J., 2004, Identifying South American wintering sites of migratory shorebirds: a case for multiple stable isotope and trace element analyses, in 4th Conference on Applications of Stable Isotope Techniques to Ecological Studies, Program and abstracts p. 56.
  • Kovach, S.D., Collins, G.H., Stricker, C.A., Rye, R.O., Farley, S.D., and Hinkes, M.T., Stable isotope evidence that salmon are important to brown bears in southwest Alaska.
  • Stricker, C.A., Stable Isotope Reconnaissance of Forested Wetland Source Waters in Cape May County, NJ,
  • Stricker, C.A., G.R. Guntenspergen, R.O. Rye, M. Marot, and W.C. Johnson, Prairie wetland sediment records: can stable isotopes detail hydroperiod and climate variability?,
  • Stricker, C.A., G.R. Guntenspergen, and R.O. Rye, 2005, Linking food webs and biogeochemical processes in wetlands: insights from sulfur isotopes: Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union, vol. 86, no.18, Suppl., Abstract H44A-03.
  • Stricker, C.A., Guntenspergen, G.R., and Rye, R.O., 2003, Sulfur cycling dynamics and hydrologic interactions among prairie wetlands: the influence of landscape position and hydroperiod: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, vol. 35, no. 6, p. 272. View Stricker 2003 GSA abstract.
  • Stricker, C.A., Rye, R.O., and Guntenspergen, G.R., 2006, New developments in sulfur isotope analysis and applications to ecological research: The 5th International Conference on Application of Stable Isotopeo Techniques to Ecological Studies.
  • Water Quality in Camp Far West reservoir, Nevada, Placer, and Yuba Counties, California, 2001-2003, USGS
  • Wunder, M.B., Knopf, F.L.,, Avian migration: promises and pitfalls.

Reports

  • Church, C.D., Wilkin, R.T., Alpers, C.N., Rye, R.O., and Blaine, R.B., 2007, Microbial sulfate reduction and metal attenuation in pH 4 acid mine water: Geochemical Transactions, 8, art. no. 10.
  • Stegall, V.K., Farley, S.D., Rea, L.D., Pitcher, K.W., Rye, R.O., Kester, C.L., Stricker, C.A., and Bern, C.R., 2008, Discrimination of carbon and nitrogen isotopes from milk to serum and vibrissae in Alaska Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus): Canadian Journal of Zoology 86 (1), pp. 17-23.
  • Wunder, M.B., Kester, C.L.., Knopf, F.L., and Rye, R.O., 2005, A test of geographic assignment using isotope tracers in feathers of known origin: Oecologia, 144 (4), pp. 6077-617.

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