Reconstructing the Composition and Diversity of the Eocene Gulf Coastal Plain, U.S. Using Leaf Architecture Analysis
Leaves adapt to environmental conditions such as temperature, precipitation, CO2 levels, and light. They vary in size, venation, margin shape, and other characteristics to maximize energy conservation. Therefore, fossil records of leaves can be used to infer past environmental conditions. This project focuses on studying plant communities, specifically their diversities, and compositions, in the early Paleogene of the Gulf Coastal Plain using fossil leaves from Tennessee and Kentucky. The goal is to visit these clay pits ourselves, retrieve and explore fossils, and understand which communities thrive in specific environmental conditions for better predictions of the impact of global warming on plant communities.