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Zalamea P.-C.,IRD Montpellier | Zalamea P.-C.,University of Los Andes, Colombia | Zalamea P.-C.,Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute | Heuret P.,French National Institute for Agricultural Research | And 11 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

Forest successional processes following disturbance take decades to play out, even in tropical forests. Nonetheless, records of vegetation change in this ecosystem are scarce, increasing the importance of the chronosequence approach to study forest recovery. However, this approach requires accurate dating of secondary forests, which until now was a difficult and/or expensive task. Cecropia is a widespread and abundant pioneer tree genus of the Neotropics. Here we propose and validate a rapid and straightforward method to estimate the age of secondary forest patches based on morphological observations of Cecropia trees. We found that Cecropia-inferred ages were highly correlated with known ages of the forest. We also demonstrate that Cecropia can be used to accurately date disturbances and propose twenty-one species distributed all over the geographical range of the genus as potential secondary forest chronometer species. Our method is limited in applicability by the maximal longevity of Cecropia individuals. Although the oldest chronosequence used in this study was 20 years old, we argue that at least for the first four decades after disturbance, the method described in this study provides very accurate estimations of secondary forest ages. The age of pioneer trees provides not only information needed to calculate the recovery of carbon stocks that would help to improve forest management, but also provides information needed to characterize the initial floristic composition and the rates of species remigration into secondary forest. Our contribution shows how successional studies can be reliably and inexpensively extended without the need to obtain forest ages based on expensive or potentially inaccurate data across the Neotropics. © 2012 Zalamea et al.


Vila B.,University of Zaragoza | Vila B.,Institute Catala Of Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont | Galobart A.,Institute Catala Of Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont | Canudo J.I.,University of Zaragoza | And 7 more authors.
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology | Year: 2012

Southwestern Europe is a key setting to evaluate the diversity of non-avian dinosaurs before the end of the Cretaceous (below the K-Pg boundary). The ancient Ibero-Armorican Island, encompassing the current regions of North-East Iberia and South France, provides a substantial record of sauropod fossils. The study of multiple sauropod femora from localities where upper Campanian to uppermost Maastrichtian successions are both exposed, together with the integration of the information gathered from previously known localities has allowed the biodiversity of sauropods to be reassessed within a precise and clear chronostratigraphic framework. From the studied sample several titanosaur forms have been distinguished including a gracile and small-sized titanosaur (Lirainosaurus astibiae), a robust medium-sized titanosaur (Ampelosaurus atacis), a gracile medium-sized titanosaur (Atsinganosaurus velauciensis), and five other indeterminate but distinct titanosaurs, which span the late Campanian through the entire Maastrichtian. The youngest of these occurs in the uppermost part of palaeomagnetic chron C30n in the latest Maastrichtian (~. 0.4-1. Ma before the K-Pg boundary), representing the youngest sauropod yet documented in Eurasia. The pattern of diversity on the Ibero-Armorican Island rules out a decline in sauropod diversity at the very end of the Cretaceous. As with other regions during the late Cretaceous, the abundance and quality of the sauropod fossil record is probably influenced by multiple biases (sampling, ecological, and environmental). © 2012 Elsevier B.V.


Vialle N.,Museum dHistoire Naturelle dAix en Provence | Vialle N.,Montpellier University | Merzeraud G.,Montpellier University | Delmer C.,Natural History Museum in London | And 9 more authors.
Journal of African Earth Sciences | Year: 2013

Dental and postcranial remains (an atlas, carpus and metacarpus elements, and a part of the pelvic girdle) of an embrithopod mammal are described from Bir Om Ali, Tunisia, a new late Eocene locality. The enamel microstructure of a tooth fragment found in association shows 'arsinoitheriid radial enamel', an enamel condition which is characteristic of Arsinoitherium (Arsinoitheriidae, Embrithopoda). Although the postcranial elements slightly differ in size and morphology from those of Arsinoitherium zitteli (late Eocene to early Oligocene), we tentatively refer this new Eocene Tunisian material to that genus. These fossils represent the first known embrithopod from the Eocene of Tunisia. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Tabuce R.,Montpellier University | Tortosa T.,Museum dHistoire Naturelle dAix en Provence | Tortosa T.,University of Paris Descartes | Vianey-Liaud M.,Montpellier University | And 7 more authors.
Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society | Year: 2013

In Europe, the fossil record of Late Cretaceous eutherian mammals is very poor, being limited to only three genera (Labes, Lainodon, and Valentinella). Labes and Lainodon are well-supported members of Zhelestidae, a stem eutherian clade, whereas Valentinella is more problematic, being recently considered as a nomen dubium. Based on X-ray computed microtomography scan analysis of the holotype and thanks to the discovery of new specimens from the type locality (Vitrolles-La Plaine, south-eastern France, late Maastrichtian), we reassessed Valentinella. This genus is unique by the association of an enlarged and rounded jaw angle with an assumed relatively elevated angular process, a bulbous protoconid and an unbasined heel on p4, a p5 with a wide molariform talonid and a hypoflexid, a robust molar morphology with a potential specialized crushing-grinding function (bulbously constructed cusps, large talonid, and horizontal apical wear facet of the hypocone), a somewhat reduced m3 relative to m2, a premolariform ?P3 or ?P4 lacking a metacone, and a relatively large hypocone on upper molars. These characters reinstate Valentinella as a valid genus. We also describe Mistralestes arcensis gen. et sp. nov. from a newly discovered locality (La Cairanne-Highway, south-eastern France, late Campanian). Mistralestes is defined by a robust premolariform p5 with no cingulid, paraconid, or metaconid; molars with a transverse protocristid, a gradual compression of the trigonid from m1 to m3, and paracristid and protocristid probably confluent on m3. Based on comparisons and phylogenetic analyses, Valentinella and Mistralestes may belong to Zhelestidae but this systematic attribution remains poorly supported. © 2013 The Linnean Society of London.

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