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. 2016 Jun 2;6:27259.
doi: 10.1038/srep27259.

The Rise of Angiosperm-Dominated Herbaceous Floras: Insights From Ranunculaceae

Free PMC article

The Rise of Angiosperm-Dominated Herbaceous Floras: Insights From Ranunculaceae

Wei Wang et al. Sci Rep. .
Free PMC article


The rise of angiosperms has been regarded as a trigger for the Cretaceous revolution of terrestrial ecosystems. However, the timeframe of the rise angiosperm-dominated herbaceous floras (ADHFs) is lacking. Here, we used the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae) as a proxy to provide insights into the rise of ADHFs. An integration of phylogenetic, molecular dating, ancestral state inferring, and diversification analytical methods was used to infer the early evolutionary history of Ranunculaceae. We found that Ranunculaceae became differentiated in forests between about 108-90 Ma. Diversification rates markedly elevated during the Campanian, mainly resulted from the rapid divergence of the non-forest lineages, but did not change across the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary. Our data for Ranunculaceae indicate that forest-dwelling ADHFs may have appeared almost simultaneously with angiosperm-dominated forests during the mid-Cretaceous, whereas non-forest ADHFs arose later, by the end of the Cretaceous terrestrial revolution. Furthermore, ADHFs were relatively unaffected by the Cretaceous-Paleogene mass extinction.


Figure 1
Figure 1. Phylogenetic chronogram and ancestral habitat reconstruction of extant Ranunculaceae.
The timetree was generated by using all calibration points (analysis 1). Gray bars represent 95% highest posterior density of node age at subfamilial and tribal levels. Node numbers refer to Supplementary Fig. 2. Color-coded pie diagrams represent the probabilities of different states at each node under Bayesian inference. Our results indicate that the rapid diversification of Ranunculaceae (laurel-green shade) occurred after or at the end of the rise of angiosperm-dominated forests (green shade20). A standard LTT plot for the 108.79 Ma history of Ranunculaceae is present in the upper left, exhibiting a three-phase scenario in lineage accumulation before 48 Ma. Photographs by S.X.Y.
Figure 2
Figure 2. Summary of the crown age of Ranunculaceae (node 13) and the age of habitat shifts (node 17) under seven analytical scenarios.
Dark dots represent mean ages. Horizontal bars represent 95% highest posterior density.
Figure 3
Figure 3. Early diversification dynamics of Ranunculaceae.
(a) Net diversification rate estimates through time. (b) Average net diversification rates for each geological epoch. (c) Comparison between the accumulation of diversity in forest and non-forest buttercup lineages.
Figure 4
Figure 4. Posterior densities of estimated ages for the nodes of interest using all calibration points (analysis 1).
Node numbers refer to Supplementary Fig. 2. Our results indicate that the full ranges of estimates obtained for these node ages are overlapping.

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