Dark and disturbed: A new image of early angiosperm ecology

TitleDark and disturbed: A new image of early angiosperm ecology
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsFeild TS, Arens NC, Doyle JA, Dawson TE, Donoghue MJ
JournalPaleobiology
Volume30
Pagination82 - 107
ISSN00948373
KeywordsBIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION, ECOLOGY, EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY, PALEONTOLOGY
Abstract

Better understanding of the functional biology of early angiosperms may clarify ecological factors surrounding their origin and early radiation. Phylogenetic studies identify Amborella, Nymphaeales (water lilies), Austrobaileyales, and Chloranthaceae as extant lineages that branched before the radiation of core angiosperms. Among living plants, these lineages may represent the best models for the ecology and physiology of early angiosperms. Here we combine phylogenetic reconstruction with new data on the morphology and ecophysiology of these plants to infer early angiosperm function. With few exceptions, Amborella, Austrobaileyales, and Chloranthaceae share ecophysiological traits associated with shady, disturbed, and wet habitats. These features include low and easily light-saturated photosynthetic rates, leaf anatomy related to the capture of understory light, small seed size, and clonal reproduction. Some Chloranthaceae, however, possess higher photosynthetic capacities and seedlin

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