Die Evolution der Palmfarne und ihrer Verwandten (Cycadophyta)
[The evolutionary history of the cycadophytes]
This research project aims at understanding the evolutionary history of the cycadophytes and to clarify the potential of this diverse, but poorly understood complex of Mesozoic plants as palaeoenvironmental/palaeoclimatic markers for the Mesozoic. Arctic and Northern Hemisphere fossil floras are investigated to assess changes in vegetation and within major gymnosperm lineages during the Mesozoic, analyze biogeographic patterns of Northern Hemisphere Mesozoic floras, test the hypothesis that the rise of the angiosperms resulted in suppression, refugial retreat or extinction of key Mesozoic gymnosperm groups (Cycadales, Bennettitales, Nilssoniales, Ginkgoales), and finally assess specific plant adaptations to high-latitude habitats of Mesozoic greenhouse climates using micro-morphological and micro-anatomical traits and general plant architecture.
Research involves reconstructions of whole-plant-taxa that serve as natural units for improved phylogenetic analyses, evaluation of the temporal and spatial diversity and diversification of cycadophytes to reveal evolutionary patterns in fertile and sterile structures. In addition, the assessment of cuticular and anatomical adaptations may be useful for interpreting local environmental to regional climatic conditions for these plants during the Mesozoic. The project focuses on two enigmatic groups of extinct cycadophytes, i.e. the Bennettitales and the Nilssoniales, and on two groups that still have representatives in modern flora, i.e. the Cycadales and the Ginkgoales.
Contact: Dr. Christian Pott