How to bring extinct plants ‘Back to Life' - publication by Will Matthaeus and Jenny McElwain

How to bring extinct plants ‘Back to Life.’

An obvious question to many might be “why study plant fossils?” Of course, some people just think they are amazing on their own. But there are ways that plant fossils can help us understand how Earth’s different systems work together. One framework for this approach is described by the recent review A Systems Approach to Understanding How Plants Transformed Earth’s Environment in Deep Time by TERRAFORM postdoc Will Matthaeus and PI Jenny McElwain among others. First, the plant fossil record tells us that at least part of Earth has been covered by plants since they evolved nearly half-a-billion years ago, even though the climate has been very different at times. The fossil record also shows that plants have changed so much since their start that at times they may have been nearly alien to our modern eyes. Finally, using ecosystem process models to incorporate measurements from plant fossils with climate simulations, we can estimate how extinct plants may have performed in the climates they experienced hundreds of millions of years in the past. Reaching so far back requires the expertise of several different kinds of scientists all working closely together to carefully develop solutions to a diverse array of challenges, and will allow us to understand the whole story of how the Earth we know came to be.

Copyright © 2022 Matthaeus, Montañez, McElwain, Wilson and White.
Citation: Matthaeus WJ, Montañez IP, McElwain JC, Wilson JP and White JD (2022) Stems matter: Xylem physiological limits are an accessible and critical improvement to models of plant gas exchange in deep time. Front. Ecol. Evol. 10:955066. doi: 10.3389/fevo.2022.955066

Open Access Publication

Workshop held at the Botany Lecture Theatre on Overcoming Barriers to Fen Restoration

Workshop held at the Botany Lecture Theatre on Overcoming Barriers to Fen Restoration

On October 25th, a workshop on “Overcoming Barriers to Fen Restoration” took place at Trinity College Dublin’s Botany Department. The event was organised by Dr Sate Ahmad and Adam Bates, as part of the IRC-funded DIVE2STORE project, to offer a collaborative space for individuals involved with all facets of peatland-related work. The workshop discussed the diversity of peatland ecosystems in Ireland with a focus on fens (groundwater-fed peatlands), the pros and cons of rewetting peatlands, and how restoration efforts should consider social aspects along with an acknowledgement of gaps in technical knowhows. Highlighted talks on these topics include those of Prof. Gerald Jurasinski (University of Greifswald, Germany) and Dr Shane Regan (National Parks and Wildlife Service) discussing The Power of Long-term Monitoring to Understand the Climate Effect of Peatland Rewetting, and EU Just Transition Wetlands Restoration Project – Fen Management, respectively. The workshop also focused on the societal aspects of fen restoration, how people interact with these landscapes and the significance they hold for the locals neighbouring these areas. To cover these points, Dr Mícheál Callaghan from the Community Wetlands Forum (CWF) presented the Lessons and Experiences of the CWF and its members. All talks were followed by productive discussions and debates on potential restoration and monitoring solutions integrating responsible management schemes to address potential negative externalities, as well as setting restoration goals based on peatland type (eg. climate mitigation vs. biodiversity). The importance of the involvement of local communities in restoration and monitoring efforts was highlighted along with the need for providing incentives for fen restoration. Attendees included members of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Community Wetlands Forum, Eastern and Midland Regional Assembly, Bord na Móna, BEC Consultants, Green Restoration Ireland, Ó Ceallaigh Ecology, FarmPEAT Project, iCRAG, University of Galway, University College Dublin, and Trinity College Dublin (Departments of Botany, Geography, Zoology, and Environmental Engineering).