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N2 -fixing tropical legume evolution: a contributor to enhanced weathering through the Cenozoic?

Author(s): Epihov, Dimitar Z.; Batterman, Sarah A.; Hedin, Lars O.; Leake, Jonathan R.; Smith, Lisa M.; et al

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Abstract: Fossil and phylogenetic evidence indicates legume-rich modern tropical forests replaced Late Cretaceous palm-dominated tropical forests across four continents during the early Cenozoic (58–42 Ma). Tropical legume trees can transform ecosystems via their ability to fix dinitrogen (N2) and higher leaf N compared with non-legumes (35–65%), but it is unclear how their evolutionary rise contributed to silicate weathering, the long-term sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). Here we hypothesize that the increasing abundance of N2-fixing legumes in tropical forests amplified silicate weathering rates by increased input of fixed nitrogen (N) to terrestrial ecosystems via interrelated mechanisms including increasing microbial respiration and soil acidification, and stimulating forest net primary productivity. We suggest the high CO2 early Cenozoic atmosphere further amplified legume weathering. Evolution of legumes with high weathering rates was probably driven by their high demand for phosphorus and micronutrients required for N2-fixation and nodule formation
Publication Date: 16-Aug-2017
Electronic Publication Date: 16-Aug-2017
Citation: Epihov, Dimitar Z., Batterman, Sarah A., Hedin, Lars O., Leake, Jonathan R., Smith, Lisa M., Beerling, David J. (2017). N2 -fixing tropical legume evolution: a contributor to enhanced weathering through the Cenozoic? Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 284 (1860), 20170370 - 20170370. doi:10.1098/rspb.2017.0370
DOI: doi:10.1098/rspb.2017.0370
ISSN: 0962-8452
EISSN: 1471-2954
Pages: 20170370 - 20170370
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Version: Final published version. This is an open access article.

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