CHICAGO, July 20 (UPI) — The evolution of flowering plants has made the world a cooler, wetter place, especially in the world’s tropical regions, researchers say.
Flowering plants are important for climate regulation in rainforest regions with short or non-existent dry seasons and where biodiversity is greatest, ScienceDaily.Com reported Monday.
In the Amazon basin, replacing flowering plants with non-flowering varieties would result in an 80 percent decrease in the area covered by rainforest, researchers say.
This is because the leaves of flowering plants, with higher vein densities than non-flowering kinds, are more efficient at drawing water from soil and returning it to sky, where it can fall again as rain, scientists say.
The process is called transpiration.
“That whole recycling process is dependent upon transpiration, and transpiration would have been much, much lower in the absence of flowering plants,” C. Kevin Boyce of the University of Chicago says. “We can know that because no leaves throughout the fossil record approach the vein densities seen in flowering plant leaves.”
Flowering plants evolved relatively recently in biological history, about 120 million years ago, but now are dominant among world plants, Boyce says.
“They’re basically everywhere and everything, unless you’re talking about high altitudes and very high latitudes,” Boyce said.
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