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Abstract Detail

The Devonian Period: a time of major plant diversification: a symposium in honor of Patricia G. Gensel and her contributions to Devonian paleobotany.

Niklas, Karl [1].

The Topography of the Lower Devonian Adaptive Landscape.

The Devonian lasted approximately 60 million years (from ~419Mya to ~359 Mya), which is approximately 11% of the phanerophytic eon. Yet, this Period records what is unquestionably the most dramatic radiation of terrestrial plant life during which every major vegetative and reproductive grade of embryophyte organization made its first appearance with the exception of the flower. A number of hypotheses have been advanced to explain this remarkable period of morphological and anatomical evolution. These range from the effects of elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide on plant growth to the effects of an initially unoccupied terrestrial landscape on the ability of plants to occupy niche space. Computer simulations shed light on the latter of these hypotheses by showing that (1) the number of equally fit phenotypes increases as the number of tasks plants need to perform simultaneously increases, but that (2) the global fitness of these phenotypes decreases as the number of tasks increases. These simulations indicate that the fitness landscape became topographically more uniform during much of the Devonian once plants successfully adapted to the dehydrating effects of air. As a consequence, more of the early land plant morphospace could be occupied without negative selection.

Broader Impacts:

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1 - Cornell University, Plant Biology, 412 Mann Library, ITHACA, NY, 14853-5908, USA

Computer Simulations

Presentation Type: Symposium or Colloquium Presentation
Session: SY10
Location: Prince of Wales/Riverside Hilton
Date: Wednesday, July 31st, 2013
Time: 10:45 AM
Number: SY10007
Abstract ID:76
Candidate for Awards:None

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