Changes of wood anatomical characters of selected species of Araucaria- during artificial charring - implications for palaeontology
ABSTRACT Charcoal is widely accepted as evidence of the occurrence of palaeo-wildfire. Although fossil charcoal remains have been used in many studies, investigation into the anatomical changes occurring during charring are few. The present study analyses changes in selected anatomical characters during artificial charring of modern wood of three species of the genus Araucaria (i.e. Araucaria angustifolia, Araucaria bidwillii and Araucaria columnaris). Wood samples of the studied species was charred under controlled conditions at varying temperatures. Measurements of anatomical features of uncharred wood and artificial charcoal were statistically analysed. The anatomical changes were statistically correlated with charring temperatures and most of the parameters showed marked decreases with increasing charring temperature. Compared to the intrinsic variability in anatomical features, both within and between growth rings of an individual plant, the changes induced by temperature account only for a comparatively small percentage of the observed variability. Regarding Araucaria charcoal, it seems possible that at least general taxonomic and palaeoenvironmental implications can be drawn from such material. However, it is not clear so far whether these results and interpretations based on only three taxa, can be generalized for the entire family and anatomically similar fossil taxa or not.