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Paleogene plants fractionated carbon isotopes similar to modern plants

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dc.contributor.author Diefendorf, Aaron F. en
dc.contributor.author Freeman, Katherine H. en
dc.contributor.author Wing, Scott L. en
dc.contributor.author Currano, Ellen D. en
dc.contributor.author Mueller, Kevin E. en
dc.date.accessioned 2015-09-01T12:10:07Z
dc.date.available 2015-09-01T12:10:07Z
dc.date.issued 2015
dc.identifier.citation Diefendorf, Aaron F., Freeman, Katherine H., Wing, Scott L., Currano, Ellen D., and Mueller, Kevin E. 2015. "<a href="https://repository.si.edu/handle/10088/26925">Paleogene plants fractionated carbon isotopes similar to modern plants</a>." <em>Earth and Planetary Science Letters</em>. 429:33&ndash;44. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2015.07.029">https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2015.07.029</a> en
dc.identifier.issn 0012-821X
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10088/26925
dc.description.abstract The carbon isotope composition ( d 13 C ) of terrestrial plant biomarkers, such as leaf waxes and terpenoids, provides insights into past carbon cycling. The d 13 C values of modern plant biomarkers are known to be sensitive to climate and vegetation type, both of which influence fractionation during lipid biosynthesis by altering plant carbon supply and its biochemical allocation. It is not known if fractionation observed in living plants can be used to interpret fossil lipids because plant biochemical characteristics may have evolved during the Cenozoic in response to changes in global climate and atmospheric CO2. The goal of this study was to determine if fractionation during photosynthesis ( ? leaf ) in the Paleogene was consistent with expectations based on living plants. To study plant fractionation during the Paleogene, we collected samples from eight stratigraphic beds in the Bighorn Basin (Wyoming, USA) that ranged in age from 63 to 53 Ma. For each sample, we measured the d 13 C of angiosperm biomarkers (triterpenoids and n-alkanes) and, abundance permitting, conifer biomarkers (diterpenoids). Leaf d 13 C values estimated from different angiosperms biomarkers were consistently 2 lower than leaf d 13 C values for conifers calculated from diterpenoids. This difference is consistent with observations of living conifers and angiosperms and the consistency among different biomarkers suggests ancient e lipid values were similar to those in living plants. From these biomarker-based d 13 C leaf values and independent records of atmospheric d 13 C values, we calculated ? leaf . These calculated ? leaf values were then compared to ? leaf values modeled by applying the effects that precipitation and major taxonomic group in living plants have on ? leaf values. Calculated and modeled ? leaf values were offset by less than a permil. This similarity suggests that carbon fractionation in Paleogene plants changed with water availability and major taxonomic group to about the same degree it does today. Further, paleoproxy data suggest at least two of the stratigraphic beds were deposited at times when p CO 2 levels were higher than today. Biomarker data from these beds are not consistent with elevated ? leaf values, possibly because plants adapted carbon uptake and assimilation characteristics to p CO 2 changes over long timescales. en
dc.relation.ispartof Earth and Planetary Science Letters en
dc.title Paleogene plants fractionated carbon isotopes similar to modern plants en
dc.type Journal Article en
dc.identifier.srbnumber 137146
dc.identifier.doi 10.1016/j.epsl.2015.07.029
rft.jtitle Earth and Planetary Science Letters
rft.volume 429
rft.spage 33
rft.epage 44
dc.description.SIUnit NH-Paleobiology en
dc.description.SIUnit NMNH en
dc.description.SIUnit Peer-reviewed en
dc.citation.spage 33
dc.citation.epage 44


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