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Pinnule and stomatal size and stomatal density of living and fossil bowenia and eobowenia specimens give insight into physiology during cretaceous and eocene paleoclimates

Hill, KE and Hill, RS and Watling, JR (2019) Pinnule and stomatal size and stomatal density of living and fossil bowenia and eobowenia specimens give insight into physiology during cretaceous and eocene paleoclimates. International Journal of Plant Sciences, 180 (4). ISSN 1058-5893

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Abstract

Premise of research. This study compares the pinnule morphology of three fossil Bowenia species, one Eobowenia (fossil) species, and several Bowenia fossil pinnule fragments with the two extant Bowenia species. Methodology. Pinnule area, stomatal density, and size have been measured on fossil and extant specimens. Measures have been correlated with solar radiation and temperature to ascertain any correlations. Environment and climate variables have been chosen, as they have changed since the Eocene and Lower Cretaceous when the Australian and South American fossils were growing. Pivotal results. Two of the fossil Bowenia species and Eobowenia have significantly smaller pinnules than the living species, and all the fossils have relatively small and sparse stomata compared with the living species. Extant Bowenia pinnule area is positively correlated with daily radiation and temperature. Conclusions. Those fossil species with small pinnules likely lived in relatively dark environments where small pinnules aided the capture of sunflecks and/or facilitated light capture. The smaller and sparser stomata may have limited the potential sites for fungal invasion in the extremely humid growth conditions without hampering overall growth rates in the prevailing very high atmospheric CO 2 levels.

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