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Article contents

The potentials and limitations of dicotyledonous wood anatomy for climatic reconstructions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 February 2016

Elisabeth A. Wheeler
Affiliation:
Department of Wood and Paper Science, Box 8005, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695-8005
Pieter Baas
Affiliation:
Rijksherbarium/Hortus Botanicus, Post Office Box 9514, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands

Abstract

The incidences of selected features of dicotyledonous wood that are believed to be of ecologic and/or phylogenetic significance (distinct growth rings, narrow and wide vessel diameter, high and low vessel frequencies, scalariform perforations, tangential vessel arrangement, ring porosity, and helical wall thickenings) were plotted through time (Cretaceous–Recent). There are marked differences between the Cretaceous and Tertiary in the frequency of all wood anatomical features. Incidences of features that are associated with markedly seasonal climates in extant floras do not approach modern levels until the Neogene. Correlations of wood anatomical features with ecology do not appear to have been constant through time, because in the Cretaceous different features provide conflicting information about the climate. Throughout the Tertiary the southern hemisphere/tropical and the northern hemisphere/temperate regions differed in the incidences of ecologically significant features and these differences are similar to those in the Recent flora. Possibilities for reliably using dicotyledonous wood for climatic reconstructions appear restricted to the Tertiary and Quaternary. However, at present the fossil wood record for most epochs and regions is too limited to permit detailed reconstructions of their past climate.

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Articles
Copyright
Copyright © The Paleontological Society 

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