Isotope ratios of actively cycled elements vary as a function of the biogeochemical processes in which they participate and the conditions under which those processes occur. The resultant spatiotemporal distribution of isotopes in environmental materials can be predicted using models of isotope-fractionating processes and data describing environmental conditions across space and time, and it has been termed an isoscape, or isotopic landscape. Analysis of isoscapes and comparison of isoscape predictions with observational data have been used to test biogeochemical models, calculate aerially integrated biogeochemical fluxes based on isotope mass balance, and determine spatial connectivity in biogeochemical, ecological, and anthropological systems. Isoscape models of varying quality are available for stable H, C, N, and O isotopes in a range of Earth surface systems, but significant opportunities exist to refine our understanding of biogeochemical cycles and our ability to predict isoscapes through the development of more mechanistic and more comprehensive isoscape models.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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