Calcium Isotope Fractionation between Soft and Mineralized Tissues as a Monitor of Calcium Use in Vertebrates
Calcium from bone and shell is isotopically lighter than calcium of soft tissue from the same organism and isotopically lighter than source (dietary) calcium. When measured as the 44Ca/40Ca isotopic ratio, the total range of variation observed is 5.5‰, and as much as 4‰ variation is found in a single organism. The observed intraorganismal calcium isotopic variations and the isotopic differences between tissues and diet indicate that isotopic fractionation occurs mainly as a result of mineralization. Soft tissue calcium becomes heavier or lighter than source calcium during periods when there is net gain or loss of mineral mass, respectively. These results suggest that variations of natural calcium isotope ratios in tissues may be useful for assessing the calcium and mineral balance of organisms without introducing isotopic tracers.