Center for Alaska Native Health Research
Institute of Arctic Biology
205 Arctic Health Research Building


Phone: 907-474-5528

1-888-470-5576 toll-free within Alaska 

Fax: 907-474-5700

Stable isotopes show what people eat

November 2012

Diane O’Brien, a nutritional ecologist, thought it was a no-brainer to use stable isotope signatures to discover what people are eating.

She used these naturally occurring markers frequently to study the diets of butterflies and other bugs. Stable isotopes as food markers are a commonly used tool for ecologists—those who study living things and their relationship with each other and the environment.