Journal of Arid Land

, Volume 10, Issue 6, pp 864–876 | Cite as

Application and verification of simultaneous determination of cellulose δ13C and δ18O in Picea shrenkiana tree rings from northwestern China using the high-temperature pyrolysis method

  • Guobao XuEmail author
  • Xiaohong Liu
  • Weizhen Sun
  • Tuo Chen
  • Xuanwen Zhang
  • Xiaomin Zeng
  • Guoju Wu
  • Wenzhi Wang
  • Dahe Qin


Stable isotopes in tree-ring cellulose provide important data in ecological, archaeological, and paleoenvironmental researches, thereby, the demand for stable isotope analyses is increasing rapidly. Simultaneous measurement of cellulose δ13C and δ18O values from tree rings would reduce the cost of isotopic commodities and improve the analytical efficiency compared with conventional separate measurement. In this study, we compared the δ13C and δ18O values of tree-ring α-cellulose from Tianshan spruce (Picea schrenkiana) in an arid site in the drainage basin of the Urumqi River in Xinjiang of northwestern China based on separate and simultaneous measurements, using the combustion method (at 1050°C) and the high-temperature pyrolysis method (at 1350°C and 1400°C). We verified the results of simultaneous measurement using the outputs from separate measurement and found that both methods (separate and simultaneous) produced similar δ13C values. The two-point calibrated method improved the results (range and variation) of δ13C and δ18O values. The mean values, standard deviations, and trends of the tree-ring δ13C obtained by the combustion method were similar to those by the pyrolysis method followed by two-point calibration. The simultaneously measured δ18O from the pyrolysis method at 1400°C had a nearly constant offset with that the pyrolysis method at 1350°C due to isotopic-dependence on the reaction temperature. However, they showed similar variations in the time series. The climate responses inferred from simultaneously and separately measured δ13C and δ18O did not differ between the two methods. The tree-ring δ13C and δ18O values were negatively correlated with standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index from May to August. In addition, the δ18O was significantly correlated with temperature (positive), precipitation (negative), and relative humidity (negative) from May to August. The tree-ring δ13C and δ18O values determined simultaneously through the high-temperature pyrolysis method could produce acceptable and reliable stable isotope series. The simultaneous isotopic measurement can greatly reduce the cost and time requirement compared with the separate isotopic measurement. These results are consistent with the previous studies at humid sites, suggesting that the simultaneous determination of δ13C and δ18O in tree-ring α-cellulose can be used in wide regions.


tree rings stable carbon and oxygen isotopes combustion pyrolysis simultaneous determination calibration Picea schrenkiana 


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This research was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41501049, 41571196), the Self-determination Project of the State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Sciences (SKLCS-ZZ-2018), the “Light of West China” Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Youth Innovation Promotion Association, Chinese Academy of Sciences (2016372), the Chinese Scholarship Council (201704910171), and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (GK201801007). The authors thank Prof. Michael EVANS from the University of Maryland, USA, and Prof. Iain ROBERTSON from Swansea University, UK for providing the calibration code and advice on calibration materials. We also thank Prof. LIU Weiguo from Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Miss ZHANG Pingyu from Lanzhou University, and Miss ZHANG Li from Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, for calibrating the standard materials. Special thanks to the anonymous reviewers and editors for their constructive comments on this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Guobao Xu
    • 1
    Email author
  • Xiaohong Liu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Weizhen Sun
    • 1
  • Tuo Chen
    • 1
  • Xuanwen Zhang
    • 1
  • Xiaomin Zeng
    • 2
    • 3
  • Guoju Wu
    • 1
  • Wenzhi Wang
    • 4
  • Dahe Qin
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Science, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and ResourcesChinese Academy of SciencesLanzhouChina
  2. 2.School of Geography and TourismShaanxi Normal UniversityXi’anChina
  3. 3.Department of Geology and Earth System Science Interdisciplinary CenterUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA
  4. 4.Institute of Mountain Hazards and EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesChengduChina

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