Key innovations, convergence, and success: Macroevolutionary lessons from plant phylogeny

TitleKey innovations, convergence, and success: Macroevolutionary lessons from plant phylogeny
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsDonoghue MJ
JournalPaleobiology
Volume31
Pagination77 - 93
ISSN00948373
KeywordsBIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION, ECOLOGY, EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY, PALEONTOLOGY
Abstract

Improvements in our understanding of green plant phylogeny are casting new light on the connection between character evolution and diversification. The repeated discovery of paraphyly has helped disentangle what once appeared to be phylogenetically coincident character changes, but this has also highlighted the existence of sequences of character change, no one element of which can cleanly be identified as the “key innovations” responsible for shifting diversification rate. In effect, the cause becomes distributed across a nested series of nodes in the tree. Many of the most conspicuous plant “innovations” (such as macrophyllous leaves) are underlain by earlier, more subtle shifts in development (such as overtopping growth), which appear to have enabled the exploration of a greater range of morphological designs. Often it appears that these underlying changes have been brought about at the level of cell interactions within meristems, highlighting the need for developmental models and

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