BIOSYSTEMATISTS Meeting, TUESDAY, March 12, 2002
Program: Taylor Feild, Miller Fellow with the Department of Integrative Biology and the University and Jepsen Herbaria will give a talk entitled: "Were the first lowering plants shady and disturbed? Ecological inferences from extant early-branching lineages." (See abstract below).
ABSTRACT: Uncovering the habit and ecology of the first flowering plants (angiosperms) remains a perennial interest of botanists because such insight may illuminate the ecological inroads utilized by angiosperms associated with their initial foothold in established Mesozoic ecosystems. Recent phylogenetic studies have identified four clades of flowering plants, including Amborella, the water lilies (Nymphaeales), a lineage composed of Austrobaileya, Trimenia, and Illiciales (Illicium, Kadsura, and Schisandra), and possibly the Chloranthaceae, as the first diverging lineages from the main branch of the angiosperm phylogenetic tree. Therefore, among the living flora, these taxa may represent the most appropriate ecological models for the early angiosperms. In contrast to the predications of earlier models, results on the ecology of several extant lineages, in the context of their current environments, suggest that the earliest flowering plants may have been woody plants, with vine-like scrambling habits, which occurred in dimly-lit, disturbed forest understory habitats and/or stream-side shady water courses.