Hungry Herbivores Seek a Warmer World

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Science  25 Jun 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5423, pp. 2098-2099
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5423.2098

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A popular view among ecologists is that the warmer the climate, the greater the diversity of plants and animals and thus the greater the opportunities for plant-animal interactions. In her Perspective, Coley describes a fascinating study (by Wilf and Labandeira) that provides support for this view through analysis of ancient plant fossils from two epochs, one warmer than the other. Coley explains that the plant fossils from the warmer epoch (Eocene) showed more types of insect damage and higher attack frequencies than plant fossils from the cooler epoch (Paleocene). Thus, it seems that climate has been instrumental in the development of plant-animal interactions since ancient times.