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Paleotemperature estimation from dicotyledonous wood anatomical characters

Michael C. Wiemann, Steven R. Manchester and Elisabeth A. Wheeler
Paleotemperature estimation from dicotyledonous wood anatomical characters
Palaios (October 1999) 14 (5): 459-474


Following an earlier study documenting the relationships between wood anatomical features and climate, we examine the utility of dicotyledonous wood assemblages in assessing paleoclimate. The wood anatomy of dicotyledons from modern forest sites in North, Central, and South America, England, Africa, Malaysia, and the Pacific islands was used to derive equations to predict site mean annual temperature. The best equations gave estimates within 5 degrees C at validation sites. Because trees are physiologically active over a wide range in temperature throughout the year, it would be surprising if wood anatomical characters were more finely tuned to temperature. Mean annual temperature (MAT) was estimated from five fossil wood assemblages: Yellow-stone, Wyoming (early Eocene); Clarno Nut Beds, Oregon (middle Eocene); Post, Oregon (late Eocene); Vantage, Washington (middle Miocene); and Fejej, Ethiopia (Miocene). We used the two best equations to estimate paleotemperature at each site; the MAT estimates differed by 0.1 degrees C at Fejej and 5.7 degrees C at Yellowstone, with differences intermediate to these at the other fossil sites. Compared to present-day values, the paleotemperature estimates indicate that, at middle latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, mean annual temperatures were warmer in the Eocene and Miocene, whereas the near-equatorial Fejej site was the same temperature in the Miocene as it is today. Where possible, we compared the MAT estimates obtained using fossil woods with those obtained using fossil leaves, and found discrepancies of up to 13 degrees C. These differences may, in part, reflect the complicating effect of evolutionary trends in wood anatomical characters that may have been independent of climate change.

ISSN: 0883-1351
Serial Title: Palaios
Serial Volume: 14
Serial Issue: 5
Title: Paleotemperature estimation from dicotyledonous wood anatomical characters
Affiliation: University of Florida, Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, FL, United States
Pages: 459-474
Published: 199910
Text Language: English
Publisher: Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists, Tulsa, OK, United States
References: 116
Accession Number: 2000-034331
Categories: PaleobotanyStratigraphy
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. 8 tables
N42°00'00" - N46°19'60", W124°34'60" - W116°34'60"
N45°30'00" - N49°00'00", W124°45'00" - W116°55'00"
N44°10'00" - N45°00'00", W111°04'60" - W109°49'60"
N03°25'00" - N18°00'00", E33°00'00" - E48°00'00"
Secondary Affiliation: North Carolina State University, USA, United States
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute.
Update Code: 200011
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