Apr 23, 2004

The role of Quaternary environmental change in plant macroevolution: the exception or the rule?

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences
Katherine J Willis, Karl J Niklas

Abstract

The Quaternary has been described as an important time for genetic diversification and speciation. This is based on the premise that Quaternary climatic conditions fostered the isolation of populations and, in some instances, allopatric speciation. However, the 'Quaternary Ice-Age speciation model' rests on two key assumptions: (i) that biotic responses to climate change during the Quaternary were significantly different from those of other periods in Earth's history; and (ii) that the mechanisms of isolation during the Quaternary were sufficient in time and space for genetic diversification to foster speciation. These assumptions are addressed by examining the plant fossil record for the Quaternary (in detail) and for the past 410 Myr, which encompasses previous intervals of icehouse Earth. Our examination of the Quaternary record indicates that floristic responses to climate changes during the past 1.8 Myr were complex and that a distinction has to be made between those plants that were able to withstand the extremes of glacial conditions and those that could not. Generation times are also important as are different growth forms (e.g. herbaceous annuals and arborescent perennials), resulting in different responses in terms of...Continue Reading

Mentioned in this Paper

Genetic Drift
Genome
Tracheobionta
Human Geography
Genomics
Climate
Plant Development
Impacts, Environmental
Biological Evolution
Male Gametophytes

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