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Data from: Closing the circle: how ecologists can prepare their own quality control material to increase confidence in stable isotope data

Citation

Hawke, David J.; Ni, Xiaozheng; Cheng, Chao; Shigemi, Nobuko (2013), Data from: Closing the circle: how ecologists can prepare their own quality control material to increase confidence in stable isotope data, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.mc274

Abstract

1. Stable isotope analysis (SIA) is widely used in ecology, but is usually performed by specialist facilities. Consequently, the reliability of SIA data depends completely on the facility’s quality systems unless ecologists take steps themselves. Although widely recommended, practical advice on how to do this is lacking. 2. Here, we outline preparation of 150 vials of an in-house quality control material, and describe data analysis. As a readily available and stable biogenic material, we propose air-dried soil. Homogeneity testing of the candidate material involves duplicate analysis of 10 randomly chosen vials, a Cochran test for outliers, and 1-way ANOVA. Given that many ecologists find SIA expensive, we propose that the ecologist pre-test for homogeneity using a simple colorimetric analysis of a soil quantity (bicarbonate-extractable P) sensitive to inhomogeneity. 3. Once pre-test homogeneity has been established, homogeneity under SIA can be tested. We obtained a 1-way ANOVA P value of 0.824 in our laboratory pre-test, then 0.782 (δ13C) and 0.125 (δ15N). 4. Submission of each batch of samples for SIA should be accompanied by a vial of the quality control material, labelled as a normal sample. Control charting of the results then allows detection of within-batch issues encompassing any component of the analytical process (transport to the laboratory; sample preparation and subsampling; sample analysis; results calculation and reporting) and assessment of long term analytical control. Any issue thus identified can form the basis of a conversation with the SIA laboratory about the affected batch of samples.

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