|The Late Paleocene marks a pivotal time in the early diversification
of many important flowering plants. Plants of this time occur after
the biotic recovery from the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction events, yet
shortly before the major climate changes of the Paleocene/Eocene transition.
The Late Paleocene Almont and Beicegel Creek floras from North Dakota provide
an unparalleled opportunity to study the changing flora that occurred at
this time and to expand the documentation of rarer Paleocene elements,
especially the emergence of mostly temperate families (buttercup) and genera
(dogwoods and maples). Because these unusually preserved floras document
both internal anatomy and external surface features of fossil plant remains,
they can serve as a benchmark with which to compare two disparate types
of data: European seed and fruit assemblages with leaf compression floras
of western North America and Asia. The funded research will provide
invaluable information useful for other studies focusing on the evolutionary
history of temperate families (dogwood, birch, cypress, sycamore) and the
biogeographic history and development of North American and Asian floras.
|This project will provide an excellent opportunity for outreach.
First graduate and undergraduate students, including women and underrepresented
groups will be trained in paleobiology. Second, there are a number
of other avenues for outreach including incorporation of information in
formal courses ranging from introductory environmental science to community
ecology and plant anatomy, public lectures in museums, and activities for
K-12 schools (through GC&SUís Academic Outreach Program). Finally,
an exhibit on the Almont Flora will be established for GC&SUís new
museum showcasing the research of the Department of Biology and Environmental
Sciences five faculty members who work with Cenozoic floras and faunas.