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Borruel-Abadia V.,Complutense University of Madrid | Galan-Abellan A.B.,Complutense University of Madrid | Kustatscher E.,Museum of Nature South Tyrol | Kustatscher E.,Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich | And 5 more authors.
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology

The end of the Permian period is characterized by the largest mass extinction ever recorded in marine and terrestrial sedimentary rocks. The oldest plant macro-remains after the P-T boundary recorded in the Castilian Branch of the Iberian Range after this mass extinction belong to the Eslida Formation of Anisian age. These associations have been recovered at four localities and include sphenophytes (. Equisetites, perhaps Neocalamites or Schizoneura), conifers (. Volzia, Albertia, Pelourdea), lycophytes (. Pleuromeia) and a possible seed fern (. Peltaspermum).Facies associations and sedimentological analysis of the Eslida Formation have allowed for distinguishing four architectural elements: CH (channel deposits), LA (lateral accretion), CS (crevasse splay) and FF (overbank fines). The largest fossil remains are associated with CH and LA architectural elements and high-energy events, and they form part of the basal lag or reactivation surfaces. Smaller and well-preserved fragments are associated with the CS architectural elements.A sedimentologic, taphonomic and palaeoclimatic analysis reveals gradation from riparian hygrophytic vegetation to semi-arid xerophitic vegetation across the alluvial complexes and a progressive aridification through time. A comparison with other areas shows that this association is similar to coeval floras of Iberia and of the "Grès à Voltzia" Formation of northeastern France. © 2014 Elsevier B.V. Source

Seyfullah L.J.,University of Birmingham | Kustatscher E.,Museum of Nature South Tyrol | Taylor W.A.,University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire
Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology

Triassic plant remains are uncommon globally, with few Early-Middle Triassic floras well documented. Thus, the Middle Triassic (Anisian) of Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, UK provides new insights into the terrestrial biota at this time and is extremely valuable since it provides the majority of fossil plants from the UK terrestrial Triassic sequence. This small but diverse flora comprises typical gymnospermous (Willsiostrobus, Pelourdea) and sphenopterid (Schizoneura, Neocalamites) elements of an Anisian-age flora. Reinvestigation of megafossil remains led to the discovery of a previously unknown and undescribed plant fossil with in situ spores, Bromsgrovia willsii gen. et sp. nov. The in situ spores were extracted and examined by light, scanning electron and transmission electron microscopy. The Bromsgrove Anisian flora is summarized and illustrated along with the first occurrence of in situ Verrucosisporites applanatus spores, a marker for the Middle Triassic. The parent plant of V. applanatus is suggested to be a horsetail with an unusual morphology. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.. Source

Fontana V.,University of Innsbruck | Radtke A.,Free University of Bozen Bolzano | Walde J.,University of Innsbruck | Tasser E.,European Academy Bolzano | And 3 more authors.
Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment

Traditional agro-forest systems (TAFS) link the two ecosystems forest and grassland and are an attractive, species-rich land-use type in the European cultural landscape. In the past decades, particularly in mountainous regions, socio economic changes have resulted in their abandonment or intensification of use. Our study employed plant traits to analyze and understand the consequences that abandonment and intensification have on plant species diversity, functional diversity and the provision of ecosystem services of larch (Larix decidua) grassland, a TAFS in the European Alps. By applying commonly used traits such as growth form and pollination agent, together with less used traits such as flower color and edible or healing plants, we found highest plant species diversity in traditionally managed larch meadows and larch pastures, while functional diversity was seen to be high also in abandoned larch grasslands. We further show that provision of the ecosystem services scenic beauty and pollination is best in traditionally managed larch meadows and larch pastures. Regarding the provision of edible or healing plants, the largest species pool was found in traditionally managed larch meadows, while the highest species coverage was found in intensively managed larch meadows. Summarizing our results, we deduce that both the abandonment and intensification of larch grasslands result in a loss of plant diversity and a decrease in provided ecosystem services. Consequently, enhancement of our knowledge through further investigation of TAFS is essential for the maintenance and conservation of these valuable cultural ecosystems. © 2014 Elsevier B.V. Source

Fischer T.C.,Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich | Meller B.,University of Vienna | Kustatscher E.,Museum of Nature South Tyrol | Butzmann R.,Fuggerstrasse 8
BMC Evolutionary Biology

Background. Structural elucidation and analysis of fructifications of plants is fundamental for understanding their evolution. In case of Ginkgo biloba, attention was drawn by Fujii in 1896 to aberrant fructifications of Ginkgo biloba whose seeds are attached to leaves, called O-ha-tsuki in Japan. This well-known phenomenon was now interpreted by Fujii as being homologous to ancestral sporophylls. The common fructification of Ginkgo biloba consists of 1-2 (rarely more) ovules on a dichotomously divided stalk, the ovules on top of short stalklets, with collars supporting the ovules. There is essentially no disagreement that either the whole stalk with its stalklets, collars and ovules is homologous to a sporophyll, or, alternatively, just one stalklet, collar and ovule each correspond to a sporophyll. For the transition of an ancestral sporophyll resembling extant O-ha-tsuki aberrant leaves into the common fructification with stalklet/collar/ovule, evolutionary reduction of the leaf lamina of such ancestral sporophylls has to be assumed. Furthermore, such ancestral sporophylls would be expected in the fossil record of ginkgophytes. Results. From the Upper Permian of the Bletterbach gorge (Dolomites, South Tyrol, Italy) ginkgophyte leaves of the genus Sphenobaiera were discovered. Among several specimens, one shows putatively attached seeds, while other specimens, depending on their state of preservation, show seeds in positions strongly suggesting such attachment. Morphology and results of a cuticular analysis are in agreement with an affiliation of the fossil to the ginkgophytes and the cuticle of the seed is comparable to that of Triassic and Jurassic ones and to those of extant Ginkgo biloba. The Sphenobaiera leaves with putatively attached seeds closely resemble seed-bearing O-ha-tsuki leaves of extant Ginkgo biloba. This leads to the hypothesis that, at least for some groups of ginkgophytes represented by extant Ginkgo biloba, such sporophylls represent the ancestral state of fructifications. Conclusions. Some evidence is provided for the existence of ancestral laminar ginkgophyte sporophylls. Homology of the newly found fossil ginkgophyte fructifications with the aberrant O-ha-tsuki fructifications of Ginkgo biloba is proposed. This would support the interpretation of the apical part of the common Ginkgo biloba fructification (stalklet/collar/ovule) as a sporophyll with reduced leaf lamina. © 2010 Fischer et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. Source

Testa B.,National Research Council Italy | Aldighieri B.,National Research Council Italy | Bertini A.,Technical Industrial Institute Of Mining U Follador | Blendinger W.,Clausthal University of Technology | And 4 more authors.

The San Lucano Valley (Belluno, Italy) was the core topic of the symposium: "L'armonia fra uomo e natura nelle valli dolomitiche" held in Agordo (Belluno) on the 12th and 13th November 2010. In this work the valley is analysed according to the following features: geological, geomorphological, structural, stratigraphic and ecological. The purpose of this paper is to review these features in order to establish the origins underlining the intrinsic geomorphodiversity of this unique area in dolomites. By walking along the river and observing landscape geomorphology or reading micro- and macroscale evidence on the mountainsides, the valley clearly reveals the keys to comprehending the geological history of dolomites from Triassic to present. A full list of geomorphosites has been appended in order to improve the scientific documentation of this valley. © 2013 The European Association for Conservation of the Geological Heritage. Source

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