Flammable biomes dominated by eucalypts originated at the Cretaceous-Palaeogene boundary

Crisp, Michael D., Burrows, Geoffrey E., Cook, Lyn G., Thornhill, Andrew H. and Bowman, David M. J. S. (2011) Flammable biomes dominated by eucalypts originated at the Cretaceous-Palaeogene boundary. Nature Communications, 2 1-8. doi:10.1038/ncomms1191

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Author Crisp, Michael D.
Burrows, Geoffrey E.
Cook, Lyn G.
Thornhill, Andrew H.
Bowman, David M. J. S.
Title Flammable biomes dominated by eucalypts originated at the Cretaceous-Palaeogene boundary
Journal name Nature Communications   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 2041-1723
Publication date 2011-02
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1038/ncomms1191
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Volume 2
Start page 1
End page 8
Total pages 8
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher Nature Publishing Group
Collection year 2012
Language eng
Abstract Fire is a major modifier of communities, but the evolutionary origins of its prevalent role in shaping current biomes are uncertain. Australia is among the most fire-prone continents, with most of the landmass occupied by the fire-dependent sclerophyll and savanna biomes. In contrast to biomes with similar climates in other continents, Australia has a tree flora dominated by a single genus, Eucalyptus, and related Myrtaceae. A unique mechanism in Myrtaceae for enduring and recovering from fire damage likely resulted in this dominance. Here, we find a conserved phylogenetic relationship between post-fire resprouting (epicormic) anatomy and biome evolution, dating from 60 to 62 Ma, in the earliest Palaeogene. Thus, fire-dependent communities likely existed 50 million years earlier than previously thought. We predict that epicormic resprouting could make eucalypt forests and woodlands an excellent long-term carbon bank for reducing atmospheric CO2 compared with biomes with similar fire regimes in other continents.
Keyword Epicormic structures
Strand structure
Savanna biome
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2012 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 68 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 79 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Sun, 27 Mar 2011, 00:03:56 EST