A systematic study of neutron-hole strength in the N = 81 nuclei 137Ba, 139Ce, 141Nd and 143Sm is reported. The single-neutron removal reactions (p,d) and (3He,) were measured at energies of 23 and 34 MeV, respectively. Spectroscopic factors were extracted from measured cross sections
through a distorted-wave Born approximation analysis and centroids of single-particle strength have been established. The change in these centroid energies as a function of proton number have been compared to calculations of the monopole shift for the s1=2 and h11=2 orbitals, where the majority
of the strength has been observed. Signicant fragmentation of strength was observed for the d and g7=2 orbitals, particularly for the latter orbital which is deeply bound, with summed strengths that indicate a signicant amount lies outside of the measured excitation energy range.