Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences Dedman College Research Earth Sciences Faculty News

Researchers ask, how did that leaf get so big?

Dallas Innovates

Originally Poster: September 22, 2017

The work of Southern Methodist University paleobotanist Bonnie F. Jacobs to help crack the mystery of leaf size recently got some recognition in Australian Geographic.

Jacobs, a professor in SMU’s Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, worked with a team of international researchers from — the United Kingdom, Canada, Argentina, Estonia, Spain, China, and the U.S. — and their work was published earlier this month as a cover story in Science.

The team looked at 7,600 plant species over the past 20 years and pooled and analyzed the data with new theory in the field. Their goal is to create equations that can predict the maximum viable leaf size anywhere in the world based on two factors — daytime overheating and night-time freezing.

That will help create more accurate vegetation models that governments can use to predict how vegetation will change in each locale and around the world under climate change, and better plan for adaptation, SMU said in a blog post. READ MORE