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Wound Response in Fossil Trees from Antarctica and its Potential as a Paleoenvironmental Indicator

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Numerous permineralized axes of Middle Triassic age from Fremouw Peak, Antarctica show evidence of mechanical wounding and wound responses. These consist of both elongate and triangular-shaped scars. Some scars can be detected beneath subsequent secondary xylem, indicating that wounding occurred early in stem development. In other stems, scars remained open suggesting late wounding and the permanent disruption of the cambium. In cross section most stems display little cal1ustissue, but wound periderm can be seen along the margin of the scar. In some stems the wound phellogen has formed phellem and phelloderm within the wounded area oriented perpendicular to the growth rings. Although some scars resemble those produced by fires, we were unable to document the presence of charcoal around scars. In modem ecosystems wounds may be caused by other agents, including debris drifting in floods, flowing ice, avalanche s, and animals . Each of these potential sources is reviewed in relationship to the paleoclimate in the region during the Triassic.


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