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Leaf energy balance modelling as a tool to infer habitat preference in the early angiosperms

Lee, Alexandra P.; Upchurch, Garland; Murchie, Erik H.; Lomax, Barry H.

Authors

Alexandra P. Lee

Garland Upchurch

Dr ERIK MURCHIE erik.murchie@nottingham.ac.uk
Professor of Applied Plant Physiology

Barry H. Lomax



Abstract

Despite more than a century of research, some key aspects of habitat preference and ecology of the earliest angiosperms remain poorly constrained. Proposed growth ecology has varied from opportunistic weedy species growing in full sun to slow-growing species limited to the shaded understorey of gymnosperm forests. Evidence suggests that the earliest angiosperms possessed low transpiration rates: gas exchange rates for extant basal angiosperms are low, as are the reconstructed gas exchange rates for the oldest known angiosperm leaf fossils. Leaves with low transpirational capacity are vulnerable to overheating in full sun, favouring the hypothesis that early angiosperms were limited to the shaded understorey. Here, modelled leaf temperatures are used to examine the thermal tolerance of some of the earliest angiosperms. Our results indicate that small leaf size could have mitigated the low transpirational cooling capacity of many early angiosperms, enabling many species to survive in full sun. We propose that during the earliest phases of the angiosperm leaf record, angiosperms may not have been limited to the understorey, and that some species were able to compete with ferns and gymnosperms in both shaded and sunny habitats, especially in the absence of competition from more rapidly growing and transpiring advanced lineages of angiosperms.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Feb 18, 2015
Journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Print ISSN 0962-8452
Electronic ISSN 0962-8452
Publisher Royal Society, The
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 282
Issue 1803
APA6 Citation Lee, A. P., Upchurch, G., Murchie, E. H., & Lomax, B. H. (2015). Leaf energy balance modelling as a tool to infer habitat preference in the early angiosperms. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 282(1803), https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2014.3052
DOI https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2014.3052
Keywords basal angiosperms, evolution, modelling, leaf size, thermal tolerance, ancestral ecology
Publisher URL http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/282/1803/20143052
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0

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Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0





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