The colonisation of land by plants was one of the most important evolutionary steps on earth; it subsequently affected all other terrestrial evolutionary processes.
Leaving the aquatic environment required numerous changes, both to the morphology and anatomy of the vegetative plant body and to the basic organisation of the life cycle, leading finally to a two-phased life cycle with a distinct alternation of a haploid gametophytic and a diploid sporophytic phase. This book focuses mainly on the changes in the structure and life cycles of terrestrial plants and how these enabled plants to colonise, grow and reproduce successfully in nearly all terrestrial ecological niches today. In the first chapter, the structure and life cycles of the earliest Devonian terrestrial plants are introduced, along with the evolutionary changes leading from then towards the present. Subsequent chapters deal with the bryophytes, pteridophytes, gymnosperms and angiosperms as do many textbooks, but here we provide descriptions and over 130 high-quality coloured photo plates and numerous line drawings of different life cycles and structures for 20 taxonomic groups including the small ones like Anthocerotophyta, Isoetales, Psilotales, Ophioglossales and Gnetales. All images are labelled in detail. The final chapter introduces the ecology of all major groups.
This book is aimed at advanced undergraduates and professional botanists in the fields of general botany and plant phylogeny, systematics, evolution and ecology. It is the first book to provide detailed photo plates and descriptions of all structures and life cycle stages of the main groups of terrestrial plants from the Early Devonian ones to modern angiosperms.