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Angiosperms helped put the rain in the rainforests: The impact of plant physiological evolution on tropical biodiversity


Boyce, CK and Lee, JE and Feild, TS and Brodribb, TJ and Zwieniecki, MA, Angiosperms helped put the rain in the rainforests: The impact of plant physiological evolution on tropical biodiversity, Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden. , 97, (4) pp. 527-540. ISSN 0026-6493 (2010) [Refereed Article]


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Copyright 2010 Missouri Botanical Garden Press

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DOI: doi:10.3417/2009143


The recycling of transpired water is well known to be an important source of rainfall, particularly in the tropics, and angiosperms have transpiration capacities higher than any other plants throughout evolutionary history. Thus, the evolution and rise to ecological dominance of flowering plants are proposed to have strongly altered climate. Transpiration capacity is closely correlated with leaf vein density, and the average vein density of angiosperm leaves is four times greater than that of all other plants, living or extinct. A rapid transition to high vein densities occurred separately in three or more flowering plant lineages about 100 million years ago. Climate modeling of the impact of this physiological revolution indicates that the tropics would be hotter, drier, and more seasonal in the absence of the angiosperms, and the overall area of tropical rainforest would decline substantially. Because angiosperm diversity is influenced by rainforest area and by precipitation abundance and evenness, the high diversity of angiosperms is partially a product of a positive feedback loop with the climate modifications initiated by the angiosperms themselves. Lineage diversifications among vertebrate and invertebrate animals and nonangiospermous plants in the wake of the angiosperm radiation may be tied to the unprecedented impact of angiosperms on climate.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Climate, hydraulics, leaf, precipitation, transpiration, venation
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Evolutionary biology
Research Field:Biological adaptation
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Terrestrial biodiversity
UTAS Author:Brodribb, TJ (Professor Tim Brodribb)
ID Code:67526
Year Published:2010
Web of Science® Times Cited:65
Deposited By:Plant Science
Deposited On:2011-03-04
Last Modified:2011-05-13
Downloads:633 View Download Statistics

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