New ScienceWise website

This website is an archive of ScienceWise Magazine issues and its content is longer being updated.

Please visit our new ScienceWise website for the latest articles.

Radiation of Australian plants

Article Illustration

The Australian fossil record shows that the ancestral Gondwanan rainforest which existed 25 million years ago was mostly replaced over the next 15 million years by the present-day 'sclerophyll' flora dominated by eucalypts and acacias. This change coincided with a cooling, drying climate and the advent of fire. This paper describes how we have used DNA sequence data to compare the patterns and timing of speciation (and extinction) in eucalypts, casuarinas, banksias and legumes. We found that each group speciated rapidly during this period, but only in the drier areas. These similarities across several different lineages suggest that climatic change and ecological factors drove the evolution of the flora, and further support a close link between climate change and evolutionary response.

 

 

Updated:  31 July 2017/ Responsible Officer:  Director, RSPE/ Page Contact:  Physics Webmaster