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Feldberg, Kathrin; Schneider, Harald; Stadler, Tanja; Schäfer-Verwimp, Alfons; Schmidt, Alexander R.; Heinrichs, Jochen (2014): Epiphytic leafy liverworts diversified in angiosperm-dominated forests. In: Scientific Reports, Vol. 4, 5974
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Abstract

Recent studies have provided evidence for pulses in the diversification of angiosperms, ferns, gymnosperms, and mosses as well as various groups of animals during the Cretaceous revolution of terrestrial ecosystems. However, evidence for such pulses has not been reported so far for liverworts. Here we provide new insight into liverwort evolution by integrating a comprehensive molecular dataset with a set of 20 fossil age constraints. We found evidence for a relative constant diversification rate of generalistic liverworts (Jungermanniales) since the Palaeozoic, whereas epiphytic liverworts (Porellales) show a sudden increase of lineage accumulation in the Cretaceous. This difference is likely caused by the pronounced response of Porellales to the ecological opportunities provided by humid, megathermal forests, which were increasingly available as a result of the rise of the angiosperms.