Journal Article


Jennifer C. McElwain
Andrew C. Parnell
Margret Steinthorsdottir
T I Lenz
Karen Bacon
I J Wright
Wuu Kuang Soh



triassic mass ecosystem function economics climate change future extinction global warming

Palaeo leaf economics reveal a shift in ecosystem function associated with the end-Triassic mass extinction event (2017)

Abstract Climate change is likely to have altered the ecological functioning of past ecosystems, and is likely to alter functioning in the future; however, the magnitude and direction of such changes are difficult to predict. Here we use a deep-time case study to evaluate the impact of a well-constrained CO2-induced global warming event on the ecological functioning of dominant plant communities. We use leaf mass per area (LMA), a widely used trait in modern plant ecology, to infer the palaeoecological strategy of fossil plant taxa. We show that palaeo-LMA can be inferred from fossil leaf cuticles based on a tight relationship between LMA and cuticle thickness observed among extant gymnosperms. Application of this new palaeo-LMA proxy to fossil gymnosperms from East Greenland reveals significant shifts in the dominant ecological strategies of vegetation found across the Triassic–Jurassic transition. Late Triassic forests, dominated by low-LMA taxa with inferred high transpiration rates and short leaf lifespans, were replaced in the Early Jurassic by forests dominated by high-LMA taxa that were likely to have slower metabolic rates. We suggest that extreme CO2-induced global warming selected for taxa with high LMA associated with a stress-tolerant strategy and that adaptive plasticity in leaf functional traits such as LMA contributed to post-warming ecological success.
Collections Ireland -> Maynooth University -> Type = Article
Ireland -> Maynooth University -> Academic Unit = Faculty of Science and Engineering: Research Institutes: Hamilton Institute
Ireland -> Maynooth University -> Status = Published
Ireland -> Maynooth University -> Academic Unit = Faculty of Science and Engineering: Mathematics and Statistics

Full list of authors on original publication

Jennifer C. McElwain, Andrew C. Parnell, Margret Steinthorsdottir, T I Lenz, Karen Bacon, I J Wright, Wuu Kuang Soh

Experts in our system

Jennifer C McElwain
University College Dublin
Total Publications: 25
Andrew Parnell
Maynooth University
Total Publications: 45
T I Lenz
Maynooth University
Total Publications: 3
I J Wright
Maynooth University
Total Publications: 3