Schwendemann, Andrew .
Can fossil floras offer insights into the physiology of plants?
Fossil plants have played a fundamental role in advancing the understanding of the origin and evolution of the plant kingdom. The study of ancient plants, combined with knowledge of their environment gleaned from geologic evidence, offers the opportunity for unprecedented insights into how and under what circumstances plants evolved. Just as the anatomy and morphology of plants have changed over time, long-term environmental changes can result in modifications in plant function through time. Study of these changes can provide detail into how plants of the past have responded to long-term environmental changes, such as rising atmospheric CO2 concentration or temperature. Interestingly, relatively few studies of fossil plants have focused on the physiological aspects of the organisms. Much of the research in plant physiology concerns the roles of plant hormones and other molecular components that cannot yet be adequately studied in fossil plants. To date, only physiological parameters that can be examined based on fundamental relationships of plant morphology, anatomy, and isotope composition are useful in the study of fossil plant physiology. In this research study, a combination of vein density analysis, leaf mass per area, and analysis of stable carbon isotopes were measured from specimens at varying paleolatitudes and geographic sites from the early Permian into the Triassic of Antarctica. Analysis of these data suggests that it is possible to document changes in plant physiology within certain fossil plant groups. This study suggests that changes in the anatomical and morphological features of Glossopteris and Dicroidium leaves have arisen in response to changes in climate.
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1 - University of Kanas, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Haworth Hall 2041, 1200 Sunnyside Ave, Lawrence, KS, 66045, USA
Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Location: Union A/Hyatt
Date: Wednesday, July 11th, 2012
Time: 2:00 PM