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The rise of angiosperms pushed conifers to decline during global cooling

  • Condamine, Fabien L. CNRS, UMR 5554 Institut des Sciences de l’Evolution de Montpellier (Université de Montpellier), 34095 Montpellier, France - Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E9, Canada
  • Silvestro, Daniele Department of Biology, University of Fribourg, 1700 Fribourg, Switzerland
  • Koppelhus, Eva B. Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E9, Canada
  • Antonelli, Alexandre Gothenburg Global Biodiversity Centre, SE-405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden - Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3RB, United Kingdom
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  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. - 2020, vol. 117, no. 46, p. 28867–28875
English Competition among species and entire clades can impact species diversification and extinction, which can shape macroevolutionary patterns. The fossil record shows successive biotic turnovers such that a dominant group is replaced by another. One striking example involves the decline of gymnosperms and the rapid diversification and ecological dominance of angiosperms in the Cretaceous. It is generally believed that angiosperms outcompeted gymnosperms, but the macroevolutionary processes and alternative drivers explaining this pattern remain elusive. Using extant time trees and vetted fossil occurrences for conifers, we tested the hypotheses that clade competition or climate change led to the decline of conifers at the expense of angiosperms. Here, we find that both fossil and molecular data show high congruence in revealing 1) low diversification rates, punctuated by speciation pulses, during warming events throughout the Phanerozoic and 2) that conifer extinction increased significantly in the Mid-Cretaceous (100 to 110 Ma) and remained high ever since. Their extinction rates are best explained by the rise of angiosperms, rejecting alternative models based on either climate change or time alone. Our results support the hypothesis of an active clade replacement, implying that direct competition with angiosperms increased the extinction of conifers by pushing their remaining species diversity and dominance out of the warm tropics. This study illustrates how entire branches on the Tree of Life may actively compete for ecological dominance under changing climates.
Faculté des sciences et de médecine
Département de Biologie
  • English
Biological sciences
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