Diverse fossil epacrids (Styphelioideae; Ericaceae) from early Pleistocene sediments at Stony Creek Basin, Victoria, Australia

Jordan, Gregory J., Bromfield, Kate E., Sniderman, J. M. Kale, and Crayn, Darren (2007) Diverse fossil epacrids (Styphelioideae; Ericaceae) from early Pleistocene sediments at Stony Creek Basin, Victoria, Australia. International Journal of Plant Sciences, 168 (9). pp. 1359-1376.

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Abstract

There is currently intense interest in the radiation of the scleromorphic groups that dominate the Australian flora, but at present, only Proteaceae and Casuarinaceae have fossil records detailed enough to provide useful evidence on the timing of these radiations. This article records a diverse assemblage of fossil leaves of another major scleromorphic group, the epacrids (subfamily Styphelioideae of Ericaceae, formerly known as Epacridaceae). The fossils are from Stony Creek Basin, in the western uplands of Victoria, Australia, and are of earliest Pleistocene age (ca. 1.6 million years old). They include 19 forms sufficiently distinct as to constitute different species. This diversity is considerably greater than the extant diversity of epacrids in the region. Published taphonomic data are used to argue that the actual diversity of the source vegetation of the fossil flora may have been significantly greater and comparable to the current local species richness of the centers of diversity. Ten of the fossil species are assigned to the largest extant tribe (Styphelieae), eight are assigned to Epacrideae or Archerieae, and one is assigned to Cosmelieae. This evidence is used to argue that substantial radiation of the epacrids had occurred by the beginning of the Pleistocene.

Item ID: 9132
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1537-5315
Keywords: epacrid; Styphelioideae; evolutionary radiation; Quaternary; fossils; Australia; sclerophylly; scleromorphy.
Date Deposited: 18 Mar 2010 23:25
FoR Codes: 04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0403 Geology > 040308 Palaeontology (incl Palynology) @ 80%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0603 Evolutionary Biology > 060310 Plant Systematics and Taxonomy @ 20%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960803 Documentation of Undescribed Flora and Fauna @ 40%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970104 Expanding Knowledge in the Earth Sciences @ 60%
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