Plant-Arthropod Interactions in the Early Angiosperm History

Evidence from the Cretaceous of Israel

Paleontologists just recently opened their eyes to the wealth of fossil documents relevant to plant – arthropod interaction and are busy now accumulating raw data. Perhaps the richest regional collection of interaction traces came from the mid-Cretaceous deposits of the Negev Desert, Israel, encompassing the time interval of the rise and basal radiation of angiosperms – the flowering plants. The arthropods (insects and mites) inserting their eggs in the leaves and making leaf mines and galls were discovering new possibilities for endophytic life that the flowering plants provided. Their morphological disparity suggests a diversification race, in which the angiosperms failed to override their leaf parasites. Only a small fraction of insect diversity is represented by body fossils that belong to one extinct and nine extant families of beetles and cockroaches mostly. Because similar structures are produced on leaves by parasitic arthropods of different systematic alliances, a purely morphological classification is worked out for the trace fossils, with but tentative assignments to natural taxa, referring to distinct types of parasitic behavior. It is the Evolution of behavior that is documented by the trace fossils. The body fossils and parasitic traces represent morphologies and behavioral traits fairly advanced for their geological age. The expression, abundance, co-occurrence, and host specialization of parasitic structures, as well as the marks of predation on mines and galls betray regulatory mechanisms of plant – arthropod interaction, analyzed in the broad context of ecosystem evolution, paleogeography and climate change.

Co-published by Pensoft Publishers & Brill Academic Publishers
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Review Quotes

“This book explores the traces of the Arthropoda on fossil leaves (phyllostigmas) of the Cretacean period in the Negev desert, when the Angiosperms appeared and increased. A very beautiful book with magnificent color plates of insect and plant fossils. Well done by the publishers and a detailed reconstruction of a relatively unknown environment, especially in this part of the world. As they say at the stock market: buy without hestitation.”
Pierre Jolivet.

“A well-designed book with beautiful photos, mostly in color. … a fascinating book, especially also for fans of gills, mines and other tracts on leaves of present-day plant species, who wish to know about such track from the early development of angiosperms.” By Ron Beenen, translated from Entomolgische Berichten 69 (1) 2009.

Table of contents

PART I
Traumas on Fossil Leaves from the Cretaceous of Israel
1. Introduction
2. Acknowledgements
3. Material and methods
4. Stratigraphic overview of Cretaceous fossil plant/insect
localities in Israel and adjacent countries
5. Plant communities
6. Taphonomy of phyllostigmas
7. Functional morphology of phyllostigmas
8. Morphological classification of phyllostigmas
9. Diversity of Cretaceous phyllostigmatic structures
10. Plant – arthropod interactions
11. Environmental variables
12. Systematic descriptions of phyllostigmas
PART II
Fossil Insects in the Cretaceous Mangrove Facies of Southern Negev, Israel
1. Introduction
2. Systematic description
3. Conclusion
4. Acknowledgements

Index Card

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