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Quaternary Isotope Paleoecology (QUIP) Lab


About Us - Here at the QUIP Lab we apply stable isotope analysis of biological materials such as bones, teeth, shells, and plants to investigate topics such as long-term climate change, reconstruct ancient environments, identify mobility and migration, detect diet, and assess human-environment interactions. The QUIP Lab welcomes students who are interested in carrying out reseearch that combines the isotopic analysis of biological materials with questions regarding paleoecology, paleoclimate, paleobiology, and archaeology. These means that undergraduate students from a wide variety of majors-from anthropology and geography to ecology, biology, and geology-may wish toconduct research in the lab. Pictured below is UGA alum Kelly Brown, whose work in the lab was supporrted by a Laerm Award from the Georgia Museum of Natural History.  As a UGA undergrad you can get involved in the lab via the Georgia Museum of Natural History Internship Program or Laerm Award, CURO, or an independent study in Anthropology or Geography. 

Our Projects


Bronze Age environmental dynamics and agrarian responses in the Southern Levant

S.E. Pilaar Birch, with Patricia Fall, Steven Falconer, Elizabeth Ridder (co-PIs), Mary Metzger and Stephen Porson

Stable isotope analysis of archaeological animal bones and teeth and modern environmental samples from Cyprus, Jordan, and Lebanon. Supported in part by National Science Foundation Award #1850259.

Radical Death and Early State Formation in the Ancient Near East

S.E. Pilaar Birch, with Brenna Hassett and David Wengrow (co-PIs)

Stable isotope analysis of human remains from Early Bronze Age Basur Höyük. Supported by the Arts & Humanities Research Council UK (AHRC) Project Reference AH/R00353X/1.

Isotopic Analysis of Fauna at Għar Dalam, Malta

S.E. Pilaar Birch, with Victoria Herridge, and Adrian Lister

Stable isotope analysis of tooth enamel carbonate from Late Pleistocene dwarf deer, hippo, and elephant for paleoecological reconstruction. Supported by the Leverhulme Trust and Natural History Museum, London.

Modern Datasets for Archaeologically-Linked Paleoclimate Reconstruction

S.E. Pilaar Birch

Examines utility, potential and limitations of using stable isotope values from archaeological herbivore teeth as paleoclimate proxies to assess long term climate change and human adaptation. Currently processing data derived from a red deer (Cervus elaphus) population that lived in Richmond Park, London, in the mid-20th century.


Neolithization of Europe: New Zooarchaeological and Stable Isotope Evidence from Uğurlu Höyük, Gökçeada, Turkey 

S.E. Pilaar Birch, with Levent Atici and Burçin Erdoğu

Stable isotope analysis of tooth enamel carbonate and bone collagen to evaluate island-mainland trade relationships and mobility. Supported by the National Geographic Committee for Research and Exploration.

Neolithic Herd Mobility at the Site of Ulucak, Turkey

S.E. Pilaar Birch, with Canan Çakırlar, Mike Buckley, and Amelie Scheu

Stable isotope analysis of carbonate from sheep and goat teeth to evaluate prehistoric mobility patterns. 



Paleoclimate reconstruction through faunal and isotopic analyses at the Alm Shelter, Wyoming

Matthew Veres



Assessing stable isotope data from archaeological white-tailed deer remains as a paleoenvironmental proxy at the site of La Joyanca, Northwestern Petén, Yucatán Peninsula

María José Rivera Araya

This project was supported by the Fulbright Student Program and resulted in two publications

Preparation and Cataloguing specimens from Yenikapi, Turkey

Onyale Donloe

This project was carried out through the Georgia Museum of Natural History internship and included metadata collection and analysis of faunal remains from the Neolithic site of Yenikapi, Turkey.

Stable Isotope Analysis of Mercenaria spp. from Sapelo Island, GA

Kelly Brown

This project was supported by the Laerm Fund and included analysis of shell carbonate from clams in order to assess season of collection of the shells from the Sapelo Shell Ring Complex. 


Stable Isotope Ecology of Passenger Pigeon Migration: Implications for De-Extinction

The Stable Isotope Ecology of Modern North American Elk: Diet, Mobility, and Environment

Building the Neotoma Faunal Isotope Database

Interested in becoming part of the lab or have your own project you'd like to discuss? Get in touch!


In the News

Recent Fieldwork at Għar Dalam Cave, Malta

Letter published in BioScience

Samples Arrive from Turkey

Selected Publications

The QUIP Lab is committed to publishing research in journals that support gold open access and making articles available via green open access when necessary. Please email if you would like a PDF copy of any articles not currently available online.


Falconer, S., Ridder, E., Pilaar Birch, S.E., and P.L. Fall. Prehistoric Bronze Age Radiocarbon Chronology at Politiko-Troullia, Cyprus. Radiocarbon

DOI: 10.1017/RDC.2022.99


Pilaar Birch, S.E., Metzger, M., Ridder, E., Porson, S. Falconer, S.E., and P.L. Fall. 2022. Herd management and subsistence practices as inferred from isotopic analysis of animals and plants at Bronze Age Politiko-Troullia, Cyprus. PLOS ONE DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0275757 

Pilaar Birch, S.E. and Szpak, P. 2022. “Current Developments and Future Directions in Archaeological Science” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 119 (43) e2212490119. DOI: 10.1073/PNAS.2212490119 

Pilaar Birch, S.E. and M. H. Veres. 2022. “Large scale data synthesis: A way forward for stable isotope analysis in zooarchaeology” in Sharpe, A. and Krigbaum, J. Applications of Isotope Research in Zooarchaeology. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.

Balk, M. (and 32 others, including S.E. Pilaar Birch). 2022. “A solution to the challenges of interdisciplinary aggregation and use of specimen-level trait data” iScience  DOI: : 

Fall, P., Richard, S., Pilaar Birch, S., Ridder, E., D’Andrea, M., Long, J., . . . Falconer, S. (2022). New AMS Chronology for the Early Bronze III/IV Transition at Khirbat Iskandar, Jordan.  Radiocarbon, 1-16. doi:10.1017/RDC.2022.22


Pilaar Birch, S.E., Boz, B., and B. Erdoğu. “Isotope paleodietary analysis of humans from Chalcolithic Uğurlu, Gökçeada Island, Turkey” Journal of                                Archaeological Science: Reports 39: 103136 DOI:10.1016/j.jasrep.2021.103136

Vaiglova, P., Reid, R.E.B., Lightfoot, E., Pilaar Birch, S.E., Hui, W., Li, S., and X. Liu. “Localized management of non‑indigenous animal domesticates in Northwestern China during the Bronze Age” Scientific Reports 11:15764 DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-95233-x

Hoggarth, J. (and 13 others, including S.E. Pilaar Birch). “Impacts of the Coronavirus Pandemic on Women and Early Career Archaeologists”. Heritage 4(3) 1681-1702 DOI:10.3390/heritage4030093

Porson, S., Falconer, S., Pilaar Birch, S.E., Ridder, E., and P. Fall. “Crop management and agricultural responses at Early Bronze IV Tell Abu en-Ni‘aj, Jordan” Journal of Archaeological Science. DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2021.105435

Leppard, T. (and 10 others, including S.E. Pilaar Birch). “The premise and potential of model-based approaches to island archaeology: A response to Terrell” Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology. DOI: 10.1080/15564894.2021.1904463


McPherson, M., Freeman, B.J. and S.E. Pilaar Birch. "Uncovering the early history of the Georgia Museum of Natural History, 1785–1900" Journal of the History of Collections. DOI: 10.1093/jhc/fhaa025

Free Access Persistent Link

Holdridge, G.A., Sarmiento F.O., Pilaar Birch, S.E., et al. “Feeding Futures Framed: Rediscovering Biocultural Diversity in Foods and Farming of the         Americas” in Sarmiento, F.O. and Frolich, L. (eds.) Elgar Companion to Geography, Transdisciplinarity and Sustainability" London: Eduard Elgar.


Pilaar Birch, S.E., Atici, L., and Erdoğu, B. “Spread of domestic animals across Neolithic Western Anatolia and into Southeast Europe: New stable isotope evidence from Uğurlu Höyük, Gökçeada, Turkey” PLOS ONE 14(10): e0222319DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0222319

Rivera Araya, M.J., Arnauld, C., Emery, K., and S.E. Pilaar Birch. “Stable isotope analysis of white-tailed deer teeth as a paleoenvironmental proxy at the Maya site of La Joyanca, northwestern Peten” Isotopes in Environmental and Health Studies  DOI: 10.1080/10256016.2019.1636047


Pilaar Birch, S.E. “Seasonal mobility and multispecies interactions in the Mesolithic northeastern Adriatic.” in S.E. Pilaar Birch (ed.), Multispecies Archaeology. Archaeological Orientations Series. London: Routledge.

Pilaar Birch, S.E., Scheu, A., Buckley M. and C. Çakırlar. “Combined osteomorphological, isotopic, aDNA and ZooMS analyses of sheep and goat remains from Neolithic Ulucak, Turkey” Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences. DOI: 10.1007/s12520-018-0624-8

Marwick, B. and S.E. Pilaar Birch. "A Standard for the Scholarly Citation of Archaeological Data". Advances in Archaeological Practice. DOI: 10.1017/aap.2018.3

Rivera Araya, M.J. and S.E. Pilaar Birch. “Stable isotope signatures in white tailed deer as a seasonal paleoenvironmental proxy: A case study from Georgia, United States” Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2018.05.025


Pilaar Birch, S.E. and M. Vander Linden. “A long hard road... Reviewing the evidence for environmental change and population history in the eastern Adriatic and western Balkans during the Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene.” Quaternary International. DOI:10.1016/j.quaint.2016.12.035

Pilaar Birch, S.E. and P.T. Miracle. “Human response to climate change in the Northern Adriatic during the late Pleistocene and early Holocene” G. Monks (ed.), Climate Change and Human Responses: A Zooarchaeological Perspective. Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology Series. New York: Springer. pp. 87-100.

Pilaar Birch, S.E. “From the Aegean to the Adriatic: Exploring the Earliest Neolithic Island Fauna” Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology.  DOI: 10.1080/15564894.2017.1310774

Atici, L., Pilaar Birch, S.E., and B. Erdoğu. “Spread of Domestic Animals across Neolithic Western Anatolia and into Southeast Europe: New Zooarchaeological Evidence from Uğurlu Höyük, Gökçeada, Turkey.” PLOS ONE. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0186519 

Pauli, J.N., Newsome, S.D., (and 25 others, including Pilaar Birch, S.E.). “Why we need a centralized repository for isotopic data” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 114(12): 2997-3001


Pilaar Birch, S.E., Miracle, P.T., Stevens R.E. & T.C. O’Connell. “Reconstructing late Pleistocene/early Holocene migratory behavior of ungulates using stable isotopes and its effects on forager mobility” PLoS ONE 11(6): e0155714. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0155714

Leppard, T.P. and S.E. Pilaar Birch. “The insular ecology and palaeoenvironmental impacts of the domestic goat (Capra hircus) in Mediterranean Neolithization” in Géoarchéologie des îles de la Méditerranée, edited by M. Ghilardi, F. Leandri, J. Bloemendal, L. Lespez, and S. Fachard. Paris: CNRS Editions Alpha. pp. 47-56. 


Pilaar Birch, S.E. “Diversity and Demographics: Zooarchaeologists in Practice” Ethnobiology Letters DOI: 10.14237/ebl.6.2.2015.469. 

Pilaar Birch, S.E. and R.W. Graham. A Stable Isotope Data Repository as part of Neotoma, a Paleoecological Database. BioScience DOI: 10.1093/biosci/biv133.

Herridge, V., Pilaar Birch, S.E., and M. Law. “Open Quaternary: A New, Open Access Journal for Quaternary Research” Open Quaternary 1: 1-2. DOI: 10.5335/

Pilaar Birch, S.E. & P.T. Miracle. “Subsistence continuity, change, and environmental adaptation at the site of Nugljanska, Istria, Croatia” Environmental Archaeology 20(1):30-40. DOI:10.1179/1749631414Y.0000000051.


Contact Information

Dr. Suzanne E. Pilaar Birch
Director, Quaternary Isotope Paleoecology Laboratory

3AS/318 Geography-Geology Building
210 Field Street, Athens, GA, 30602

(706) 542-4171
Baldwin Hall 265A

(706) 542-6828
Geography-Geology 103

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