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Abstract Detail



The evolution and ecology of aquatic bryophytes

Johnson , Matthew G [1].

What can phylogenetics teach us about peatland ecosystems?

Peatlands make up approximately 3% of the Earth’s land surface, and serve as a tremendous carbon sink in the boreal northern hemisphere. Roughly half of all peatlands are dominated by Sphagnum (peat mosses), which not only inhabit the peatland; they are responsible for its formation, growth, and maintenance. Individual Sphagnum species have narrow microhabitat preferences along two well-established gradients: a mineralogical gradient of pH and base cations, and a hydrological gradient separating plants by height above the water table into hummocks and hollows. There are perhaps 250 Sphagnum species worldwide, many of which originate from a sudden radiation ca. 14 Mya. Typically, about 40 of these species are important for peat formation, while the remaining diversity are derived, tropical clades. Initial results demonstrate strong phylogenetic signal for niche preferences along the hydrological gradient, but not along the mineralogical gradient. Field experiments in pristine peatlands have demonstrated the role of species-specific functional traits, such as decomposition rate, in shaping the microtopography itself. Correlations between the functional traits and microhabitat preferences in a phylogenetic framework demonstrate the connection between diversification of Sphagnum, along with its extended phenotype (the hummock), and the development of the boreal peatland— a critical component of the Pleistocene carbon cycle.


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1 - Chicago Botanic Garden, Plant Sciences, 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, IL, 60022, USA

Keywords:
Sphagnum
phylogenetic comparative method
functional traits
niche evolution.

Presentation Type: Symposium or Colloquium Presentation
Session: SY02
Location: Payette/Boise Centre
Date: Monday, July 28th, 2014
Time: 3:45 PM
Number: SY02006
Abstract ID:452
Candidate for Awards:None


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