Big Bend Chapter

Program: Evolution of Plants with Jeff Keeling

[from Karen Little]

Program: Evolution of Plants with Jeff Keeling
Date: Saturday, March 25th, 2023
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Location: Room 201 of the Warnock Science Building at Sul Ross State University
Participation: Open to 60+ participants


Current estimates calculate a wide range of the number of known plant species somewhere between 320,000 and 435,000 (the latter number including many sub-species and varieties elevated to the species level). Given this immense diversity, people tend to classify plants into general, non-specific categories for the sake of convenience, such as ‘trees’, ‘shrubs’, and ‘wildflowers’. Biologists, however, classify plants based on their evolutionary relationships that have been more accurately defined over the past century and are still being updated as new data and evidence emerges. Many of our native plants in the Chihuahuan Desert serve as reference points and an opportunity to illustrate important adaptations in habit and life cycles that have developed in plants throughout geologic history. From microscopic, single-celled algae to multicellular life forms that constitute some of the largest living organisms on our planet, the journey of plant evolution over the past ca.450 million years is one of the planet’s most amazing and transformational processes. The colonization of earth’s land masses by plants gave rise to the terrestrial environments that sustain, not only our species, but the vast biodiversity that underpins the ecological health of our biosphere.

Sul Ross biology lecturer Jeff Keeling will be presenting a PowerPoint presentation that will cover this progression from the basal lineages of the recently expanded “plant” kingdom and the complex life cycles that will eventually give rise to all of the more familiar plants that we observe all around us and are a part of our everyday lives.


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