A method to distinguish between woods produced by evergreen and deciduous coniferopsids on the basis of growth ring anatomy: a new palaeoecological tool
A method is outlined in which woods produced by deciduous and evergreen coniferopsids may be distinguished from one another on the basis of a quantitative analysis of growth ring anatomy. In this method the diameter of successive tracheid cells was measured across growth rings in modern coniferopsid woods, viewed using standard transverse anatomical sections. The cumulative algebraic sum of each cell's deviation from the mean was then calculated for each growth ring increment and plotted as a zero-trending curve (CSDM curve). Deciduous conifer and ginkgo species dominantly possess symmetrical or left-skewed CSDM curves whilst evergreen conifer species dominantly possess right-skewed CSDM curves. These data suggest that in most cases it may be possible to distinguish between evergreen and deciduous fossil coniferopsid species using wood anatomical characteristics, thus providing important insight into coniferopsid palaeoecology. key words: growth rings, conifer wood, palaeoclimate, evergreen, deciduous.