Dr. Fred Longstaffe

Laboratory for Stable Isotope Science

Fred Longstaffe Distinguished University Professor & Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in Stable Isotope Science
Director, Laboratory for Stable Isotope Science
P.Geol., F.R.S.C.
Ph.D. McMaster University, 1978
Office: BGS 1023
Labs: BGS 0159, WSC 54
Phone: 519-661-2111 x.83177
Fax: 519-661-3198
Email: flongsta@uwo.ca
Lab Website

Research Interests

Stable isotope science across the atmosphere-hydrosphere-biosphere-lithosphere (soil, sediment, rock) continuum (Earth-Systems Science); Stable isotope and biomarker proxies for paleoclimate reconstruction in continental and lacustrine systems; Stable isotope systematics of Pleistocene and Holocene ecosystems and associated megafauna; Stable isotope systematics of hydrous minerals; Clay mineralogy; Stable isotope systematics of bioapatite, collagen and keratin; Stable isotope ecology; Stable isotope hydrology; Climate change and environmental reconstruction; Triple oxygen-isotope systematics in nitrates, silicates and biogenic phosphates; Rock-water interaction in hydrothermal systems and mineralization; Diagenesis of clastic sedimentary systems; Stable isotopic analysis of anthropological materials and its applications to environment and climate reconstruction.

Selected Publications

In press

  • Duarté, A., Longstaffe, F.J. & Way, D. (in press) Nitrogen fertilization influences low CO2 effects on plant performance. Functional Plant Biology.
  • Maggiano, C.M., White, C.D., Stern, R.A., Salvador Peralta, J. & Longstaffe, F.J. (in press) Human bone records a decade of sub-seasonal δ18O variation in consumed water. Focus: Journal of Archaeological Science.


  • Cullen, T.M., Longstaffe, F.J., Wortmann, U.G., Goodwin, M.B., Huang, L. & Evans, D.C. (2019) Stable isotopic characterization of a coastal floodplain forest community: a case study for isotopic reconstruction of Mesozoic vertebrate assemblages (accepted). Royal Society Open Science 6: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsos.181210
  • He, S., Longstaffe, F.J. & Zhou, J. (2019) Stable isotopes of clay minerals from autoclave tests of oil sands: Implications for clay formation during steaming of Alberta Clearwater oil sands. Applied Geochemistry 104: 202-209. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeochem.2019.04.001
  • Hill, P.J.A., Banerjee, N.R., Ali, A., Jabeen, I., Osinski, G.R. & Longstaffe, F.J. ­­­(2019) Coupled Si and O isotope measurements of meteoritic material by laser fluorination isotope ratio mass spectrometry. Journal of Mass Spectrometry 54: 667-675. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/jms.4381
  • Plint, T., Longstaffe, F.J. & Zazula, G. (2019) Giant beaver palaeoecology inferred from stable isotopes. Scientific Reports 9: 7179, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-43710-9
  • Salazar-Jaramillo, S., McCarthy, P.J., Ochoa, A., Fowell, S.J. & Longstaffe, F.J. (2019) Paleoclimate reconstruction of the Prince Creek Formation, Arctic Alaska, during Maastrichtian global warming. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 532: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2019.109265
  • Schwartz-Narbonne, R., Longstaffe, F.J., Kardynal, K.J., Druckenmiller, P., Hobson, K.A., Jass, C.N., Metcalfe, J.Z. & Zazula, G. (2019) Reframing the mammoth steppe: Insights from analysis of isotopic niche. Quaternary Science Reviews 215: 1-21. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2019.04.025
  • Szpak, P., Millaire, J-F, Chapdelaine, C, White, C.D. & Longstaffe, F.J. (2019) An integrated isotopic study of Early Intermediate Period camelid husbandry in the Santa Valley, Perú. Environmental Archaeology - The Journey of Human Palaeoecology: 1-17. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14614103.2019.1583302
  • Voelker, S.L., Wang, S.-Y.S., Dawson, T.E., Roden, J.S., Still, C.J., Longstaffe, F.J. & Ayalon, (2019) Tree-ring isotopes adjacent to Lake Superior reveal cold winter anomalies for the Great Lakes region of North America. Scientific Reports 9: 4412. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-40907-
  • Yakymchuk, C., Zhao, W., Wan, Y., Lin, S. & Longstaffe, F.J. (2019) Fluid-present anatexis of Neoarchean tonalite and amphibolite in the Western Shandong Province. Lithos 326-329: 110-124. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0024493718304766


  • Howe, T.S., Corcoran, P.L., Longstaffe, F.J., Webb, E.A. & Pratt, R.G. (2018) Response to the discussion on “Climatic cycles recorded in glacially influenced rhythmites of the Gowganda Formation, Huronian Supergroup. Precambrian Research 286: 269-280”. Precambrian Research 316:
  • Olsen, K.C., White, C.D., Longstaffe, F.J., Rühli, F.J., Warinner, C. & Salazar-Garcia, D.S. (2018) Isotopic anthropology of rural German medieval diet: intra- and interpopulation variability. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 10: 1053-1065. doi: 10.1007/s12520-016-0432-y
  • Olsen, K.C., von Heyking, K., Grupe, G., White, C.D. & Longstaffe, F.J. (2018) Investigating diet and disease in a medieval German poorhouse population using isotopic analysis of human and faunal tissues. Bioarchaeology International 2: 147-163. doi: 10.5744/bi.2018.1022
  • Polat, A., Frei, R., Longstaffe, F.J. & Wood, R. (2018a) Petrogenetic and geodynamic origin of the Neoarchean Doré Lake Complex, Abitibi subprovince, Superior Province, Canada. International Journal of Earth Science 107: 811-843. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00531-017-1498-1
  • Polat, A., Longstaffe, F.J. & Frei, R. (2018b) An overview of anorthosite-bearing layered intrusions in the Archaean craton of southern West Greenland and the Superior Province of Canada: implications for Archaean tectonics and the origin of megacrystic plagioclase. Geodinamica Acta 30: 84-99. https://doi.org/10.1080/09853111.2018.1427408
  • Polat, A., Frei, R., Longstaffe, F.J., Friedman, E. & Thorkelson, D. (2018c) Petrography and geochemistry of the Tasse mantle xenoliths of the Canadian Cordillera: A record of Archean to Quaternary mantle growh, metasomatism, removal and melting. Tectonophysics 737: 1-26. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tecto.2018.04.014
  • Szpak, P., Longstaffe, F.J., Macdonald, R., Millaire, J-F, White, C.D. & Richards, M.P. (2018) Plant sulfur isotopic compositions are altered by marine fertilizers. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12520-018-0716-5
  • Szpak, P., Millaire, J-F. White, C.D., DSonnan, C.B. & Longstaffe, F.J. (2018) Isotope sourcing of wool from textiles at Pacatnamú. Archaeometry 60: 612-627. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/arcm.12342
  • Tahmasebi, F., Longstaffe, F.J. & Zazula, (2018) Nitrogen isotopes suggest a change in nitrogen dynamics between the Late Pleistocene and modern time in Yukon, Canada. PLOS ONE 13: e0192713. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0192713


  • Fraser, E.E., Brooks, D. & Longstaffe, F.J. (2017) Stable isotope investigation of the migratory behaviour of silver-haired bats (Lasionycteris noctivagans) in eastern North America. Journal of Mammalogy 98: 1225-1235. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jmammal/gyx085
  • Hobson, K.A., Plint, T., Serrano, E.G., Alvarez, X.M., Ramirez, I. & Longstaffe, F.J. (2017) Within-wing isotopic (δ2H, δ13C, δ15N) variation of Monarch butterflies: implications for studies of migratory origin and diet. Animal Migration 4: 8-15. https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/ami.2017.4.issue-1/ami-2017-0002/ami-2017-0002.xml
  • Huggett, J, Adetunji, J., Longstaffe, F.J. & Wray, D. (2017) Mineralogical and geochemical characterization of warm water, shallow marine glaucony from the Tertiary of the London Basin. Clay Minerals 52: 25-50. http://claymin.geoscienceworld.org/content/gsclaymin/52/1/25.full.pdf
  • Qi, H., Coplen, T.B., Gehre, M., Vennemann, T.W., Brand, W.A., Geilmann, H., Olack, G, Bindeman, I., Palandri, J., Huang, L. & Longstaffe, F.J. (2017) New biotite and muscovite isotopic reference materials, USGS57 and USGS58, for δ2H measurements–a replacement for NBS 30. Chemical Geology 467: 89-99. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chemgeo.2017.07.027
  • Tahmasebi, F., Longstaffe, F.J., Zazula, G. & Bennett, B. (2017) Nitrogen and carbon isotopic dynamics of subarctic soils and plants in southernYukon Territory: implications for paleoecological and paleodietary studies. PLOS ONE 12: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0183016
  • Taner, M.F., Drever, C., Yakymchuk, C. & Longstaffe, F.J. (2017) Origin of graphite in the southwestern Grenville Province. The Canadian Mineralogist 55: 1041-1055.
  • Williams, J.S., Stronge, S.M., Iannone, G. & Longstaffe, F.J. (2017) Examining chronological trends in ancient Maya diet at Minanha, Belize, using the stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen. Latin American Antiquity 28: 269-287. https://doi.org/10.1017/laq.2017.13


  • Aggarwal, P., Romatschke, U., Araguas-Araguas, L., Belachew, D., Longstaffe, F.J., Berg, P., Schumacher, C. & Funk, A. (2016) Water isotopes reveal the proportions of convective and stratiform precipitation. Nature Geoscience 9: 624-630. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ngeo2739
  • Ballent, A., Corcoron, P., Odile, M., Helm, P.A. and Longstaffe, F.J. Sources and sinks of microplastics in Canadian Lake Ontario nearshore, tributary and beach sediments. (2016) Marine Pollution Bulletin 110: 383-395. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0025326X16304416
  • Colborne, S.F., Garner, S.R., Longstaffe, F.J. & Neff, B.D. (2016) Assortative mating but no evidence of genetic divergence in a species characterized by a trophic polymorphism. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 29: 633-644. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jeb.12812
  • Dolphin, A.E., Teeter, M.A., White, C.D. & Longstaffe, F.J. (2016) Limiting the impact of destructive analytical techniques through sequential microspatial sampling of the enamel from single teeth. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 5: 537-541.
  • Hill, C., Corcoron, P.L., Aranha, R. & Longstaffe, F.J. (2016) Microbially induced sedimentary structures in the Paleoproterozoic, upper Huronian Supergroup, Canada. Precambrian Research 281: 155-165. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.precamres.2016.05.010
  • Hladyniuk, & Longstaffe, F.J. (2016) The oxygen-isotope composition in post-glacial Lake Ontario. Quaternary Science Reviews 134: 39-50. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2016.01.002
  • Howe, T.S., Corcoran, P.L., Longstaffe, F.J., Webb, E.A. & Pratt, R.G. (2016) Climatic cycles recorded in glacially influenced rhythmites of the Gowganda Formation, Huronian Supergroup. Precambrian Research 286: 269-280. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.precamres.2016.10.002
  • Huggett, J. & Longstaffe, F.J. (2016) A brief account of new petrographic and isotopic insights into the Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire Puddingstones of SE England. Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association 127: 327-336. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pgeola.2016.01.003
  • Hundey, E.J., Russell, S.D., Longstaffe, F.J. & Moser, K.A. (2016) Agriculture causes nitrate fertilization of distant alpine lakes. Nature Communications 7: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncomms10571
  • Matthews, C., Longstaffe, F.J. & Ferguson, S. (2016) Dentine oxygen isotopes (δ18O) as a proxy for odontocete distributions and movements. Ecology and Evolution. doi: 10.1002/ece3.2238 http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ece3.2238
  • Metcalfe, J., Longstaffe, F.J., Jass, C., Zazula, G. & Keddie, G. (2016) Taxonomy, location of origin and health status of proboscideans from Western Canada investigated using stable isotope analysis. Journal of Quaternary Science 31: 126-142. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jqs.2849
  • Morris, Z., White, C. Hodgetts, L. & Longstaffe, F.J. (2016) Maize provisioning of Ontario Late Woodland turkeys: Isotopic evidence of seasonal, cultural, spatial and temporal variations. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 10: 596-606. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2016.06.017
  • Schofield, D.I., Potter, J., Barr, S.M., Horák, J.M., Millar, I.L. & Longstaffe, F.J. (2016) Reappraising the Neoproterozoic ‘East Avalonian’ terranes of southern Great Britain. Gondwana Research 35: 257-271. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gr.2015.06.001
  • Szpak, P., Chicoine, D., Millaire, J-F, White, C.D. & Longstaffe, F.J. (2016) Early Horizon camelid management practices in the Nepeña Valley, north-central coast of Peru. Environmental Archaeology 21: 230-245. http://dx.doi.org/10.1179/1749631415Y.0000000002
  • Szpak, P., Millaire, J.-F., White, C.D., Bourget, S. & Longstaffe, F.J. (2016). Life histories of sacrificed camelids from Huancaco (Virú Valley). Chapter 12, p. 319-341. In: Ritual violence in the ancient Andes: Reconstructing Sacrifice on the North Coast of Peru. Edited by H.D. Klaus and J.M. Toyne,  University of Texas Press, Austin.
  • White, C.D. & Longstaffe, F.J. (2016) Stable isotopes and selective forces: examples in biocultural and environmental anthropology. Chapter 12, p. 241-257. In: New Directions in Biocultural Anthropology. Edited by M.K. Zuckerman and D.L. Martin, Wiley-Blackwell, New York.
  • Zhou, S., Polat, A., Longstaffe, F.J., Yang, K., Fryer, B.J. & Weisener, C. (2016) Formation of the Neoarchean Bad Vermilion Lake Anorthosite Complex and spatially associated granitic rocks at a convergent plate margin, Superior Province, western Ontario, Canada. Gondwana Research 33: 134-159. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gr.2015.08.014


  • Geology 9956b: Advanced Stable Isotope Science I: Low Temperature Systems (each year) (on sabbatical 2019-2020)
  • Earth Sciences 4431a: Stable Isotope Geochemistry in Earth and Environmental Sciences – undergraduate level (each year) (on sabbatical 2019-2020)
  • Geology 9506a: Stable Isotope Geochemistry in Earth and Environmental Sciences – graduate level (each year) (on sabbatical 2019-2020)

Current Students

  • Jennifer Baron, continuing post-NSERC-USRA researcher (University of British Columbia) – Stable isotope tree-ring investigations of climate change at Pinery Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada
  • Skylar Chauvin, MSc candidate (Geology, University of Ottawa) – Clay mineralogy and O and H isotope behaviour of Ordovician shales, southern Ontario, Canada
  • Rebecca Doyle, PhD candidate (Geography and Environment & Sustainability) – Stable isotope and n-alkane investigations of Anthropocene climatic and environmental change using lake sediments from southern Ontario, Canada and the Uinta Mountains, USA
  • Courtney Holden, PhD candidate (Biology, Queen’s University) – Thermal history and diet of the American eel, determined using stable isotopes in otoliths
  • Nadine Kanik, MSc candidate (Geology) – Analytical and crystal-chemical controls on the hydrogen isotope composition of smectites
  • Jumin Lee, MSc candidate (Geology – Reconstruction of seasonal paleoclimate variations using oxygen, carbon and hydrogen isotopes of tree rings from sub-fossil Pleistocene wood in Ontario
  • Fereshteh Najafi, PhD candidate (Geology) – Stable isotope and n-alkane investigations of Late-Pleistocene and Holocene environmental and climate change in southern Ontario, Canada
  • Amanda Philavong, MSc candidate (Geology) – Course-based studies
  • Sawyer Rowe, MSc candidate (Geology) – Stable isotope dietary reconstruction of Pleistocene Castor (Canadian beaver)
  • Curtis Russell, MSc candidate (Geology) – Oxygen isotope exchange in collagen
  • Sarah Simpson, PhD candidate (Geology and Planetary Sciences) – Post-impact secondary clay formation and evolution in the Chicxulub crater, Mexico
  • Matt Svennson, PhD candidate (Geology and Planetary Sciences) – Hydrothermal alteration of lacustrine deposits in the Ries impact structure, Germany
  • James Thayer, PhD candidate (Geology) Post-glacial hydroclimatic change and catchment erosion in southern Ontario, Canada
  • Jacob Walker, PhD candidate (Geology) – Exploring the climate of southwestern Ontario during the Early to Mid Holocene using conventional and clumped isotope analysis of marl lakes

Future Students 

Students in the Longstaffe group measure oxygen, hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen isotope variations, and other geochemical and mineralogical parameters, to address the following general questions:

  1. What controls the distribution of heavy versus light stable isotopes of the same element among Earth materials, and what does it tell us about the Earth System?
  2. What controls the hydrogen and oxygen isotope compositions of clay minerals? How can these data be used to understand lithosphere-hydrosphere-biosphere-atmosphere interaction in the Earth System?
  3. How do we read past and present isotopic records of climate, environment and ecology? What can we learn about the Earth System? Can we go “Back to the Future” with this knowledge?
  4. What is the climatic, environmental and/or ecological significance of the stable isotope, chemical and mineralogical signatures recorded by proxy* materials preserved in lacustrine sediments, terrestrial soils and sediments, and plant and animal remains?

*Proxies include – but are not limited to – shelly fauna, organic matter, pollen, cellulose, n-alkanes, phytoliths, diatoms, bone, teeth, hair, feathers, antler, tusk, fur, collagen, keratin, bioapatite, amino acids, etc.

All students are required to perform their own analyses and help with the care, maintenance and repair of equipment. This technical training, in addition to their subject field, makes them attractive to employers. Many former students now manage or are technologists in major laboratory facilities throughout the world. Others have academic appointments or professional positions in the private sector or government.

Currently available projects include:

  • Origin and evolution of Paleozoic shales from the Appalachian and Michigan basins, Ontario
  • Oxygen and hydrogen isotope fractionation between clay minerals and porewater
  • Climatic change in the Great Lakes region since ~15,000 BP
  • Climatic controls on the hydrogen and oxygen isotope compositions of water vapour, precipitation, surface and subsurface water in the Great Lakes region
  • Controls on the carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen and oxygen isotope compositions of ancient and modern plant tissues
  • Stable isotopic investigations of Pleistocene fauna and megafauna diet, migration and extinction and associated climatic, environmental and ecosystem change