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Leaf evolution in Southern Hemisphere conifers tracks the angiosperm ecological radiation


Biffin, E and Brodribb, TJ and Hill, RS and Thomas, P and Lowe, AJ, Leaf evolution in Southern Hemisphere conifers tracks the angiosperm ecological radiation, Royal Society of London. Proceedings B. Biological Sciences, 279, (1727) pp. 341-348. ISSN 0962-8452 (2012) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

Copyright 2011 the Royal Society

DOI: doi:10.1098/rspb.2011.0559


The angiosperm radiation has been linked to sharp declines in gymnosperm diversity and the virtual elimination of conifers from the tropics. The conifer family Podocarpaceae stands as an exception with highest species diversity in wet equatorial forests. It has been hypothesized that efficient light harvesting by the highly flattened leaves of several podocarp genera facilitates persistence with canopy-forming angiosperms, and the angiosperm ecological radiation may have preferentially favoured the diversification of these lineages. To test these ideas, we develop a molecular phylogeny for Podocarpaceae using Bayesian-relaxed clock methods incorporating fossil time constraints. We find several independent origins of flattened foliage types, and that these lineages have diversified predominantly through the Cenozoic and therefore among canopy-forming angiosperms. The onset of sustained foliage flattening podocarp diversification is coincident with a declining diversification rate of scale/needle-leaved lineages and also with ecological and climatic transformations linked to angiosperm foliar evolution. We demonstrate that climatic range evolution is contingent on the underlying state for leaf morphology. Taken together, our findings imply that as angiosperms came to dominate most terrestrial ecosystems, competitive interactions at the foliar level have profoundly shaped podocarp geography and as a consequence, rates of lineage diversification.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Podocarpaceae, molecular phylogeny, divergence time estimates, plant evolution, podocarp leaf evolution, xylem
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Plant biology
Research Field:Plant physiology
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the environmental sciences
UTAS Author:Brodribb, TJ (Professor Tim Brodribb)
ID Code:82467
Year Published:2012
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (DP120101686)
Web of Science® Times Cited:65
Deposited By:Plant Science
Deposited On:2013-02-04
Last Modified:2017-11-01

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