ResearchPad - paleoecology https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Unravelling the mystery of “Madagascar copal”: Age, origin and preservation of a Recent resin]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_15728 The loss of biodiversity during the Anthropocene is a constant topic of discussion, especially in the top biodiversity hotspots, such as Madagascar. In this regard, the study of preserved organisms through time, like those included in "Madagascar copal", is of relevance. “Madagascar copal" originated from the leguminous tree Hymenaea verrucosa, which produced and produces resin abundantly. In the last 20 years, interest has focused on the scientific study of its biological inclusions, mainly arthropods, described in dozens of publications. The age and origin of the deposits of "Madagascar copal" have not yet been resolved. Our objectives are to determine its age and geographical origin, and thus increase its scientific value as a source of biological/palaeobiological information. Although Hymenaea was established in Madagascar during the Miocene, we did not find geological deposits of copal or amber in the island. It is plausible that the evolution of those deposits was negatively conditioned by the type of soil, by the climate, and by the development of soil/litter microorganisms, which inhibit preservation of the resin pieces in the litter and subsoil over 300 years. Our results indicate that "Madagascar copal" is a Recent resin, up to a few hundred years old, that originated from Hymenaea trees growing in the lowland coastal forests, one of the most endangered ecosystems in the world. The included and preserved biota is representative of that ecosystem today and during historical times. Inclusions in this Recent resin do not have the palaeontological significance that has been mistakenly attributed to them, but they do have relevant implications for studies regarding Anthropocene biodiversity loss in this hottest hotspot.

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<![CDATA[Advanced approach to analyzing calcareous protists for present and past pelagic ecology: Comprehensive analysis of 3D-morphology, stable isotopes, and genes of planktic foraminifers]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c8acce4d5eed0c484990244

Marine protists play an important role in oceanic ecosystems and biogeochemical cycles. However, the difficulties in culturing pelagic protists indicate that their ecology and behavior remain poorly understood; phylogeographic studies based on single-cell genetic analyses have often shown that they are highly divergent at the biological species level, with variable geographic distributions. This indicates that their ecology could be complex. On the other hand, the biomineral (calcareous) shells of planktic foraminifers are widely used in geochemical analyses to estimate marine paleoenvironmental characteristics (i.e., temperature), because the shell chemical composition reflects ambient seawater conditions. Among the pelagic protists, planktic foraminifers are ideal study candidates to develop a combined approach of genetic, morphological, and geochemical methods, thus reflecting environmental and ecological characteristics. The present study precisely tested whether the DNA extraction process physically and chemically affects the shells of the planktic foraminifer Globigerinoides ruber. We used a nondestructive method for analyzing physical changes (micro-focus X-ray computed tomography (MXCT) scanning) to compare specimens at the pre- and post-DNA extraction stages. Our results demonstrate that DNA extraction has no significant effect on shell density and thickness. We measured stable carbon and oxygen isotopes on the shell of each individual in a negative control or one of two DNA-extracted groups and detected no significant differences in isotopic values among the three groups. Moreover, we evaluated isotopic variations at the biological species level with regard to their ecological characteristics such as depth habitat, life stages, and symbionts. Thus, our examination of the physiochemical effects on biomineral shells through DNA extraction shows that morphological and isotopic analyses of foraminifers can be combined with genetic analysis. These analytical methods are applicable to other shell-forming protists and microorganisms. In this study, we developed a powerful analytical tool for use in ecological and environmental studies of modern and past oceans.

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<![CDATA[Long-term exposure to more frequent disturbances increases baseline carbon in some ecosystems: Mapping and quantifying the disturbance frequency-ecosystem C relationship]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c785015d5eed0c484007c44

Disturbance regimes have a major influence on the baseline carbon that characterizes any particular ecosystem. Often regimes result in lower average regional baseline C (compared to those same systems if the disturbance processes were lessened/removed). However, in infrequently disturbed systems the role of disturbance as a “background” process that influences broad-scale, baseline C levels is often neglected. Long-term chronosequences suggest disturbances in these systems may serve to increase regional biomass C stocks by maintaining productivity. However, that inference has not been tested spatially. Here, the large forested system of southeast Alaska, USA, is utilized to 1) estimate baseline regional C stocks, 2) test the fundamental disturbance-ecosystem C relationship, 3) estimate the cumulative impact of disturbances on baseline C. Using 1491 ground points with carbon measurements and a novel way of mapping disturbance regimes, the relationship between total biomass C, disturbance exposure, and climate was analyzed statistically. A spatial model was created to determine regional C and compare different disturbance scenarios. In this infrequently disturbed ecosystem, higher disturbance exposure is correlated with higher biomass C, supporting the hypothesis that disturbances maintain productivity at broad scales. The region is estimated to potentially contain a baseline 1.21–1.52 Pg biomass C (when unmanaged). Removal of wind and landslides from the model resulted in lower net C stocks (-2 to -19% reduction), though the effect was heterogeneous on finer scales. There removal of landslides alone had a larger effect then landslide and wind combined removal. The relationship between higher disturbance exposure and higher biomass within the broad ecosystem (which, on average, has a very low disturbance frequency) suggest that disturbances can serve maintain higher levels of productivity in infrequently disturbed but very C dense ecosystems. Carbon research in other systems, especially those where disturbances are infrequent relative to successional processes, should consider the role of disturbances in maintaining baseline ecosystem productivity.

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<![CDATA[Tracing long-term demographic changes: The issue of spatial scales]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c3667edd5eed0c4841a6986

This paper deals with the analysis of long-term changes in population densities at the regional and macro-regional scale and in the density of metapopulations. The following issues concerning estimations are addressed: chronological resolution of demographic changes, estimation of the weight of values for population density in order to transform the initial values included in the sample into the values that may be compared with each other at the regional scale, calibration of the transformed values into real population densities, and the estimation of the weight of values for population density at the scales of macro-regions and for the density of metapopulations. The proposed methods are tested on demographic changes in Central Europe, Southern Scandinavia, Southeastern Europe, and the Near East. The obtained results represent major trends in demographic development, while the proposed methodology could also be applied in other wide-scale demographic analyses.

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<![CDATA[Seasonality modulates the predictive skills of diatom based salinity transfer functions]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5bfdb3a2d5eed0c4845cb072

The value of diatoms as bioindicators in contemporary and palaeolimnological studies through transfer function development has increased in the last decades. While such models represent a tremendous advance in (palaeo) ecology, they leave behind important sources of uncertainties that are often ignored. In the present study we tackle two of the most important sources of uncertainty in the development of diatom salinity inference models: the effect of secondary variables associated to seasonality and the comparison of conventional cross-validation methods with a validation based on independent datasets. Samples (diatoms and environmental variables) were taken in spring, summer and autumn in the freshwater and brackish ditches of the province of North Holland in 1993. Different locations of the same province were sampled again in 2008–2010 to validate the models. We found that the abundance of the dominant species significantly changed between the seasons, leading to inconsistent estimates of species optima and tolerances. A model covering intra-annual variability (all seasons combined) provides averages of species optima and tolerances, reduces the effect of secondary variables due to the seasonality effects, thus providing the strongest relationship between salinity and diatom species. In addition, the ¨all-season¨ model also reduces the edge effects usually found in all unimodal-based calibration methods. While based on cross-validation all four models seem to perform relatively well, a validation with an independent dataset emphasizes the importance of using models covering intra-annual variability to perform realistic reconstructions.

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<![CDATA[Wood Anatomy Reveals High Theoretical Hydraulic Conductivity and Low Resistance to Vessel Implosion in a Cretaceous Fossil Forest from Northern Mexico]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9d4ab0ee8fa60b652fe

The Olmos Formation (upper Campanian), with over 60 angiosperm leaf morphotypes, is Mexico's richest Cretaceous flora. Paleoclimate leaf physiognomy estimates indicate that the Olmos paleoforest grew under wet and warm conditions, similar to those present in modern tropical rainforests. Leaf surface area, tree size and climate reconstructions suggest that this was a highly productive system. Efficient carbon fixation requires hydraulic efficiency to meet the evaporative demands of the photosynthetic surface, but it comes at the expense of increased risk of drought-induced cavitation. Here we tested the hypothesis that the Olmos paleoforest had high hydraulic efficiency, but was prone to cavitation. We characterized the hydraulic properties of the Olmos paleoforest using theoretical conductivity (Ks), vessel composition (S) and vessel fraction (F), and measured drought resistance using vessel implosion resistance and the water potential at which there is 50% loss of hydraulic conductivity (P50). We found that the Olmos paleoforest had high hydraulic efficiency, similar to that present in several extant tropical-wet or semi-deciduous forest communities. Remarkably, the fossil flora had the lowest , which, together with low median P50 (−1.9 MPa), indicate that the Olmos paleoforest species were extremely vulnerable to drought-induced cavitation. Our findings support paleoclimate inferences from leaf physiognomy and paleoclimatic models suggesting it represented a highly productive wet tropical rainforest. Our results also indicate that the Olmos Formation plants had a large range of water conduction strategies, but more restricted variation in cavitation resistance. These straightforward methods for measuring hydraulic properties, used herein for the first time, can provide useful information on the ecological strategies of paleofloras and on temporal shifts in ecological function of fossil forests chronosequences.

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<![CDATA[Region-Specific Sensitivity of Anemophilous Pollen Deposition to Temperature and Precipitation]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dae1ab0ee8fa60bbbd71

Understanding relations between climate and pollen production is important for several societal and ecological challenges, importantly pollen forecasting for pollinosis treatment, forensic studies, global change biology, and high-resolution palaeoecological studies of past vegetation and climate fluctuations. For these purposes, we investigate the role of climate variables on annual-scale variations in pollen influx, test the regional consistency of observed patterns, and evaluate the potential to reconstruct high-frequency signals from sediment archives. A 43-year pollen-trap record from the Netherlands is used to investigate relations between annual pollen influx, climate variables (monthly and seasonal temperature and precipitation values), and the North Atlantic Oscillation climate index. Spearman rank correlation analysis shows that specifically in Alnus, Betula, Corylus, Fraxinus, Quercus and Plantago both temperature in the year prior to (T-1), as well as in the growing season (T), are highly significant factors (TApril rs between 0.30 [P<0.05[ and 0.58 [P<0.0001]; TJuli-1 rs between 0.32 [P<0.05[ and 0.56 [P<0.0001]) in the annual pollen influx of wind-pollinated plants. Total annual pollen prediction models based on multiple climate variables yield R2 between 0.38 and 0.62 (P<0.0001). The effect of precipitation is minimal. A second trapping station in the SE Netherlands, shows consistent trends and annual variability, suggesting the climate factors are regionally relevant. Summer temperature is thought to influence the formation of reproductive structures, while temperature during the flowering season influences pollen release. This study provides a first predictive model for seasonal pollen forecasting, and also aides forensic studies. Furthermore, variations in pollen accumulation rates from a sub-fossil peat deposit are comparable with the pollen trap data. This suggests that high frequency variability pollen records from natural archives reflect annual past climate variability, and can be used in palaeoecological and -climatological studies to bridge between population- and species-scale responses to climate forcing.

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<![CDATA[An archosauromorph dominated ichnoassemblage in fluvial settings from the late Early Triassic of the Catalan Pyrenees (NE Iberian Peninsula)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db52ab0ee8fa60bdc90d

The vertebrate recovery after the end-Permian mass extinction can be approached through the ichnological record, which is much more abundant than body fossils. The late Olenekian (Early Triassic) tetrapod ichnoassemblage of the Catalan Pyrenean Basin is the most complete and diverse of this age from Western Tethys. This extensional basin, composed of several depocenters, was formed in the latest phases of the Variscan orogeny (Pangea breakup) and was infilled by braided and meandering fluvial systems of the red-beds Buntsandstein facies. Abundant and diverse tetrapod ichnites are recorded in these facies, including Prorotodactylus mesaxonichnus isp. nov. (tracks possibly produced by euparkeriids), cf. Rotodactylus, at least two large chirotheriid morphotypes (archosauriform trackmakers), Rhynchosauroides cf. schochardti, two other undetermined Rhynchosauroides forms, an undetermined Morphotype A (archosauromorph trackmakers) and two types of Characichnos isp. (swimming traces, here associated to archosauromorph trackmakers). The Pyrenean ichnoassemblage suggests a relatively homogeneous ichnofaunal composition through the late Early Triassic of Central Pangea, characterized by the presence of Prorotodactylus and Rotodactylus. Small archosauromorph tracks dominate and present a wide distribution through the different fluviatile facies of the Triassic Pyrenean Basin, with large archosaurian footprints being present in a lesser degree. Archosauromorphs radiated and diversified through the Triassic vertebrate recovery, which ultimately lead to the archosaur and dinosaur dominance of the Mesozoic.

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<![CDATA[Capturing the Surface Texture and Shape of Pollen: A Comparison of Microscopy Techniques]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9e6ab0ee8fa60b6b5ec

Research on the comparative morphology of pollen grains depends crucially on the application of appropriate microscopy techniques. Information on the performance of microscopy techniques can be used to inform that choice. We compared the ability of several microscopy techniques to provide information on the shape and surface texture of three pollen types with differing morphologies. These techniques are: widefield, apotome, confocal and two-photon microscopy (reflected light techniques), and brightfield and differential interference contrast microscopy (DIC) (transmitted light techniques). We also provide a first view of pollen using super-resolution microscopy. The three pollen types used to contrast the performance of each technique are: Croton hirtus (Euphorbiaceae), Mabea occidentalis (Euphorbiaceae) and Agropyron repens (Poaceae). No single microscopy technique provided an adequate picture of both the shape and surface texture of any of the three pollen types investigated here. The wavelength of incident light, photon-collection ability of the optical technique, signal-to-noise ratio, and the thickness and light absorption characteristics of the exine profoundly affect the recovery of morphological information by a given optical microscopy technique. Reflected light techniques, particularly confocal and two-photon microscopy, best capture pollen shape but provide limited information on very fine surface texture. In contrast, transmitted light techniques, particularly differential interference contrast microscopy, can resolve very fine surface texture but provide limited information on shape. Texture comprising sculptural elements that are spaced near the diffraction limit of light (∼250 nm; NDL) presents an acute challenge to optical microscopy. Super-resolution structured illumination microscopy provides data on the NDL texture of A. repens that is more comparable to textural data from scanning electron microscopy than any other optical microscopy technique investigated here. Maximizing the recovery of morphological information from pollen grains should lead to more robust classifications, and an increase in the taxonomic precision with which ancient vegetation can be reconstructed.

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<![CDATA[Pleistocene Climate, Phylogeny, and Climate Envelope Models: An Integrative Approach to Better Understand Species' Response to Climate Change]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da4bab0ee8fa60b8cc02

Mean annual temperature reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change increases at least 1.1°C to 6.4°C over the next 90 years. In context, a change in climate of 6°C is approximately the difference between the mean annual temperature of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) and our current warm interglacial. Species have been responding to changing climate throughout Earth's history and their previous biological responses can inform our expectations for future climate change. Here we synthesize geological evidence in the form of stable oxygen isotopes, general circulation paleoclimate models, species' evolutionary relatedness, and species' geographic distributions. We use the stable oxygen isotope record to develop a series of temporally high-resolution paleoclimate reconstructions spanning the Middle Pleistocene to Recent, which we use to map ancestral climatic envelope reconstructions for North American rattlesnakes. A simple linear interpolation between current climate and a general circulation paleoclimate model of the LGM using stable oxygen isotope ratios provides good estimates of paleoclimate at other time periods. We use geologically informed rates of change derived from these reconstructions to predict magnitudes and rates of change in species' suitable habitat over the next century. Our approach to modeling the past suitable habitat of species is general and can be adopted by others. We use multiple lines of evidence of past climate (isotopes and climate models), phylogenetic topology (to correct the models for long-term changes in the suitable habitat of a species), and the fossil record, however sparse, to cross check the models. Our models indicate the annual rate of displacement in a clade of rattlesnakes over the next century will be 2 to 3 orders of magnitude greater (430-2,420 m/yr) than it has been on average for the past 320 ky (2.3 m/yr).

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<![CDATA[Long-Term Coexistence of Rotifer Cryptic Species]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dad2ab0ee8fa60bb6cdb

Despite their high morphological similarity, cryptic species often coexist in aquatic habitats presenting a challenge in the framework of niche differentiation theory and coexistence mechanisms. Here we use a rotifer species complex inhabiting highly unpredictable and fluctuating salt lakes to gain insights into the mechanisms involved in stable coexistence in cryptic species. We combined molecular barcoding surveys of planktonic populations and paleogenetic analysis of diapausing eggs to reconstruct the current and historical coexistence dynamics of two highly morphologically similar rotifer species, B. plicatilis and B. manjavacas. In addition, we carried out laboratory experiments using clones isolated from eight lakes where both species coexist to explore their clonal growth responses to salinity, a challenging, highly variable and unpredictable condition in Mediterranean salt lakes. We show that both species have co-occurred in a stable way in one lake, with population fluctuations in which no species was permanently excluded. The seasonal occurrence patterns of the plankton in two lakes agree with laboratory experiments showing that both species differ in their optimal salinity. These results suggest that stable species coexistence is mediated by differential responses to salinity and its fluctuating regime. We discuss the role of fluctuating salinity and a persistent diapausing egg banks as a mechanism for species coexistence in accordance with the ‘storage effect’.

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<![CDATA[A New Upper Jurassic Ophthalmosaurid Ichthyosaur from the Slottsmøya Member, Agardhfjellet Formation of Central Spitsbergen]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daa5ab0ee8fa60ba756e

Abundant new ichthyosaur material has recently been documented in the Slottsmøya Member of the Agardhfjellet Formation from the Svalbard archipelago of Norway. Here we describe a partial skeleton of a new taxon, Janusaurus lundi, that includes much of the skull and representative portions of the postcranium. The new taxon is diagnosed by a suite of cranial character states including a very gracile stapedial shaft, the presence of a dorsal process on the prearticular and autapomorphic postcranial features such as the presence of an interclavicular trough and a conspicuous anterodorsal process of the ilium. The peculiar morphology of the ilia indicates a previously unrecognized degree of morphological variation in the pelvic girdle of ophthalmosaurids. We also present a large species level phylogenetic analysis of ophthalmosaurids including new and undescribed ichthyosaur material from the Upper Jurassic of Svalbard. Our results recover all Svalbard taxa in a single unresolved polytomy nested within Ophthalmosaurinae, which considerably increases the taxonomic composition of this clade. The paleobiogeographical implications of this result suggest the presence of a single clade of Boreal ophthalmosaurid ichthyosaurs that existed during the latest Jurassic, a pattern also reflected in the high degree of endemicity among some Boreal invertebrates, particularly ammonoids. Recent and ongoing descriptions of marine reptiles from the Slottsmøya Member Lagerstätte provide important new data to test hypotheses of marine amniote faunal turnover at the Jurassic-Cretaceous boundary.

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<![CDATA[New data on the stem and leaf anatomy of two conifers from the Lower Cretaceous of the Araripe Basin, northeastern Brazil, and their taxonomic and paleoecological implications]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db50ab0ee8fa60bdbdf0

Pseudofrenelopsis and Brachyphyllum are two conifers that were part of the Lower Cretaceous (Aptian) taphoflora of the Crato Formation, Araripe Basin, northeastern Brazil. The former genus includes, so far, P. capillata and indeterminate species, whilst the latter is mainly represented by B. obesum, the most common plant megafossil recovered from that stratigraphic unit. Here, the stem and leaf anatomy of Pseudofrenelopsis sp. and B. obesum specimens is revisited, including the first report of some epidermal and vascular traits for both taxa from the Crato Formation. Along with its paleoecological significance, the new data suggest the presence of more than one Pseudofrenelopsis species in the Aptian taphoflora of the Araripe Basin and further support the taxonomic placement of B. obesum within Araucariaceae.

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<![CDATA[Micro-Halocline Enabled Nutrient Recycling May Explain Extreme Azolla Event in the Eocene Arctic Ocean]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9fbab0ee8fa60b72280

In order to understand the physicochemical mechanisms that could explain the massive growth of Azolla arctica in the Eocene Arctic Ocean, we carried out a laboratory experiment in which we studied the interacting effects of rain and wind on the development of salinity stratification, both in the presence and in the absence of a dense Azolla cover. Additionally, we carried out a mesocosm experiment to get a better understanding of the nutrient cycling within and beneath a dense Azolla cover in both freshwater and brackish water environments. Here we show that Azolla is able to create a windproof, small-scale salinity gradient in brackish waters, which allows for efficient recycling of nutrients. We suggest that this mechanism ensures the maintenance of a large standing biomass in which additional input of nutrients ultimately result in a further expansion of an Azolla cover. As such, it may not only explain the extent of the Azolla event during the Eocene, but also the absence of intact vegetative Azolla remains and the relatively low burial efficiency of organic carbon during this interval.

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<![CDATA[Differential Extinction and the Contrasting Structure of Polar Marine Faunas]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da1eab0ee8fa60b7e0a0

Background

The low taxonomic diversity of polar marine faunas today reflects both the failure of clades to colonize or diversify in high latitudes and regional extinctions of once-present clades. However, simple models of polar evolution are made difficult by the strikingly different faunal compositions and community structures of the two poles.

Methodology/Principal Findings

A comparison of early Cenozoic Arctic and Antarctic bivalve faunas with modern ones, within the framework of a molecular phylogeny, shows that while Arctic losses were randomly distributed across the tree, Antarctic losses were significantly concentrated in more derived families, resulting in communities dominated by basal lineages. Potential mechanisms for the phylogenetic structure to Antarctic extinctions include continental isolation, changes in primary productivity leading to turnover of both predators and prey, and the effect of glaciation on shelf habitats.

Conclusions/Significance

These results show that phylogenetic consequences of past extinctions can vary substantially among regions and thus shape regional faunal structures, even when due to similar drivers, here global cooling, and provide the first phylogenetic support for the “retrograde” hypothesis of Antarctic faunal evolution.

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<![CDATA[Pristine Early Eocene Wood Buried Deeply in Kimberlite from Northern Canada]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dacbab0ee8fa60bb42e4

We report exceptional preservation of fossil wood buried deeply in a kimberlite pipe that intruded northwestern Canada’s Slave Province 53.3±0.6 million years ago (Ma), revealed during excavation of diamond source rock. The wood originated from forest surrounding the eruption zone and collapsed into the diatreme before resettling in volcaniclastic kimberlite to depths >300 m, where it was mummified in a sterile environment. Anatomy of the unpermineralized wood permits conclusive identification to the genus Metasequoia (Cupressaceae). The wood yields genuine cellulose and occluded amber, both of which have been characterized spectroscopically and isotopically. From cellulose δ18O and δ2H measurements, we infer that Early Eocene paleoclimates in the western Canadian subarctic were 12–17°C warmer and four times wetter than present. Canadian kimberlites offer Lagerstätte-quality preservation of wood from a region with limited alternate sources of paleobotanical information.

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<![CDATA[Does Forest Continuity Enhance the Resilience of Trees to Environmental Change?]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9d8ab0ee8fa60b669a2

There is ample evidence that continuously existing forests and afforestations on previously agricultural land differ with regard to ecosystem functions and services such as carbon sequestration, nutrient cycling and biodiversity. However, no studies have so far been conducted on possible long-term (>100 years) impacts on tree growth caused by differences in the ecological continuity of forest stands. In the present study we analysed the variation in tree-ring width of sessile oak (Quercus petraea (Matt.) Liebl.) trees (mean age 115–136 years) due to different land-use histories (continuously existing forests, afforestations both on arable land and on heathland). We also analysed the relation of growth patterns to soil nutrient stores and to climatic parameters (temperature, precipitation). Tree rings formed between 1896 and 2005 were widest in trees afforested on arable land. This can be attributed to higher nitrogen and phosphorous availability and indicates that former fertilisation may continue to affect the nutritional status of forest soils for more than one century after those activities have ceased. Moreover, these trees responded more strongly to environmental changes – as shown by a higher mean sensitivity of the tree-ring widths – than trees of continuously existing forests. However, the impact of climatic parameters on the variability in tree-ring width was generally small, but trees on former arable land showed the highest susceptibility to annually changing climatic conditions. We assume that incompletely developed humus horizons as well as differences in the edaphon are responsible for the more sensitive response of oak trees of recent forests (former arable land and former heathland) to variation in environmental conditions. We conclude that forests characterised by a long ecological continuity may be better adapted to global change than recent forest ecosystems.

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<![CDATA[Cretaceous/Paleogene Floral Turnover in Patagonia: Drop in Diversity, Low Extinction, and a Classopollis Spike]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da63ab0ee8fa60b91497

Nearly all data regarding land-plant turnover across the Cretaceous/Paleogene boundary come from western North America, relatively close to the Chicxulub, Mexico impact site. Here, we present a palynological analysis of a section in Patagonia that shows a marked fall in diversity and abundance of nearly all plant groups across the K/Pg interval. Minimum diversity occurs during the earliest Danian, but only a few palynomorphs show true extinctions. The low extinction rate is similar to previous observations from New Zealand. The differing responses between the Southern and Northern hemispheres could be related to the attenuation of damage with increased distance from the impact site, to hemispheric differences in extinction severity, or to both effects. Legacy effects of the terminal Cretaceous event also provide a plausible, partial explanation for the fact that Paleocene and Eocene macrofloras from Patagonia are among the most diverse known globally. Also of great interest, earliest Danian assemblages are dominated by the gymnosperm palynomorphs Classopollis of the extinct Mesozoic conifer family Cheirolepidiaceae. The expansion of Classopollis after the boundary in Patagonia is another example of typically Mesozoic plant lineages surviving into the Cenozoic in southern Gondwanan areas, and this greatly supports previous hypotheses of high latitude southern regions as biodiversity refugia during the end-Cretaceous global crisis.

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<![CDATA[Where to Dig for Fossils: Combining Climate-Envelope, Taphonomy and Discovery Models]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da39ab0ee8fa60b8724e

Fossils represent invaluable data to reconstruct the past history of life, yet fossil-rich sites are often rare and difficult to find. The traditional fossil-hunting approach focuses on small areas and has not yet taken advantage of modelling techniques commonly used in ecology to account for an organism’s past distributions. We propose a new method to assist finding fossils at continental scales based on modelling the past distribution of species, the geological suitability of fossil preservation and the likelihood of fossil discovery in the field, and apply it to several genera of Australian megafauna that went extinct in the Late Quaternary. Our models predicted higher fossil potentials for independent sites than for randomly selected locations (mean Kolmogorov-Smirnov statistic = 0.66). We demonstrate the utility of accounting for the distribution history of fossil taxa when trying to find the most suitable areas to look for fossils. For some genera, the probability of finding fossils based on simple climate-envelope models was higher than the probability based on models incorporating current conditions associated with fossil preservation and discovery as predictors. However, combining the outputs from climate-envelope, preservation, and discovery models resulted in the most accurate predictions of potential fossil sites at a continental scale. We proposed potential areas to discover new fossils of Diprotodon, Zygomaturus, Protemnodon, Thylacoleo, and Genyornis, and provide guidelines on how to apply our approach to assist fossil hunting in other continents and geological settings.

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<![CDATA[Predicting Maximum Tree Heights and Other Traits from Allometric Scaling and Resource Limitations]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dafeab0ee8fa60bc5890

Terrestrial vegetation plays a central role in regulating the carbon and water cycles, and adjusting planetary albedo. As such, a clear understanding and accurate characterization of vegetation dynamics is critical to understanding and modeling the broader climate system. Maximum tree height is an important feature of forest vegetation because it is directly related to the overall scale of many ecological and environmental quantities and is an important indicator for understanding several properties of plant communities, including total standing biomass and resource use. We present a model that predicts local maximal tree height across the entire continental United States, in good agreement with data. The model combines scaling laws, which encode the average, base-line behavior of many tree characteristics, with energy budgets constrained by local resource limitations, such as precipitation, temperature and solar radiation. In addition to predicting maximum tree height in an environment, our framework can be extended to predict how other tree traits, such as stomatal density, depend on these resource constraints. Furthermore, it offers predictions for the relationship between height and whole canopy albedo, which is important for understanding the Earth's radiative budget, a critical component of the climate system. Because our model focuses on dominant features, which are represented by a small set of mechanisms, it can be easily integrated into more complicated ecological or climate models.

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