Australian Journal of Botany Australian Journal of Botany Society
Southern hemisphere botanical ecosystems
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Foliar physiognomic climate estimates for the Late Cretaceous (Cenomanian–Turonian) Lark Quarry fossil flora, central-western Queensland, Australia

Tamara L. Fletcher A B C , Patrick T. Moss B and Steven W. Salisbury A

A School of Biological Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Qld 4072, Australia.

B Climate Research Group, School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Qld 4072, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: t.fletcher1@uq.edu.au

Australian Journal of Botany 61(8) 575-582 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/BT13197
Submitted: 6 August 2013  Accepted: 3 December 2013   Published: 21 March 2014

Abstract

Although there is a broad knowledge of Cretaceous climate on a global scale, quantitative climate estimates for terrestrial localities are limited. One source of terrestrial palaeoproxies is foliar physiognomy. The use of foliar physiognomy to explore Cretaceous assemblages has been limited, and some of its potential sources of error have not been fully explored. Although museum collections house a wealth of material, collection bias toward particular taxa or preservation qualities of specimens further magnifies existing taphonomic bias to cold temperatures. As a result, specific collection for foliar physiognomy can be necessary. Here, we conduct three foliar physiognomic analyses on the early Late Cretaceous Lark Quarry flora and assess the results in the context of other proxies from the same formation. Our results suggest that the climate at the Cenomanian–Turonian boundary in central western Queensland was warm and had high precipitation (leaf-area analysis: 1321 mm + 413 mm – 315 mm mean annual precipitation; leaf-margin analysis: 16.4°C mean annual temperature, 5.3°C binomial sample error; climate leaf-analysis multivariate program: 16 ± 2°C for mean annual temperature, 9-month growth season, 1073 ± 483 mm growth-season precipitation). Our analysis also gave higher mean annual temperature estimates than did a previous analysis by climate leaf-analysis multivariate program, based on museum collections for the Winton Formation.


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