Plant Ecological Strategies Shift Across the Cretaceous–Paleogene Boundary

Benjamin Blonder, Dana L. Royer, Kirk R. Johnson, Ian Miller, Brian J. Enquist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

The Chicxulub bolide impact caused the end-Cretaceous mass extinction of plants, but the associated selectivity and ecological effects are poorly known. Using a unique set of North Dakota leaf fossil assemblages spanning 2.2 Myr across the event, we show among angiosperms a reduction of ecological strategies and selection for fast-growth strategies consistent with a hypothesized recovery from an impact winter. Leaf mass per area (carbon investment) decreased in both mean and variance, while vein density (carbon assimilation rate) increased in mean, consistent with a shift towards “fast” growth strategies. Plant extinction from the bolide impact resulted in a shift in functional trait space that likely had broad consequences for ecosystem functioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPLoS biology
Volume12
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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    Blonder, B., Royer, D. L., Johnson, K. R., Miller, I., & Enquist, B. J. (2014). Plant Ecological Strategies Shift Across the Cretaceous–Paleogene Boundary. PLoS biology, 12(9). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1001949