Prof Jason Hilton is a research focused palaeobotanist and evolutionary plant biologist with interests in palaeoenvironments and palaeoecology. 

Paleobotany is the study of fossil plants that reveals information about once living species from the fossil record. Fossil plants provide important information about past processes including evolution, diversification, extinction as well as elucidating environmental change through deep time measured in hundreds of thousands or millions of years. Paleobotanical research at Birmingham utilises state of the art and traditional specimen based approaches to integrate information from both fossil and living plants. Recent foci include the origin of modern conifer families, evolution of forest ecosystems, and systematic relationships of plant groups. Research in paleobotany is multifaceted and links to research strengths within BIFoR in plant adaptions to climate change. 

Doctoral Research

Forest Edge student Bridget Warren is in her final year of study looking at leaf wax alkanes which do not decay on leaf death, and enter the sediment becoming part of the geological record. She uses the BIFoR FACE facility to look at future climates too. 

Bridget Warren - Impact of elevated CO2 on leaf wax n-alkane chemistry



Recent Publications 

Wang, J., Hilton, J., Pfefferkorn, H. W., Wang, S., Zhang, Y., Bek, J., . . . Dilcher, D. (2021). Ancient noeggerathialean reveals the seed plant sister group diversified alongside the primary seed plant radiation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118(11), e2013442118. https://doi:10.1073/pnas.2013442118    

Wang S., Wang J., Liu L., and Hilton J. (2021). Stem diversity of the marattialean tree fern family Psaroniaceae from the earliest Permian Wuda Tuff Flora. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 104378.     

Meade, L., Placett, A.R.G. and Hilton, J.(2020). Reconstructing development of the earliest seed integuments raises a new hypothesis for the evolution of ancestral seed-bearing structures. New Phytologist

Pšenička, J., Wang, J., Hilton, J., Zhou, W., Bek, J., Opluštil, S. and Frojdová, J. (2020). A small, heterophyllous vine growing on Psaronius and Cordaites trees in the earliest Permian forests of North China. International Journal of Plant Sciences 181: 616–645.

Wang, S.J., Wang, J., Li L and Hilton, J. (2019). Stems of the marattialean tree fern family Psaroniaceae from the earliest Permian Wuda Tuff Flora. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology.

Wang, S.-J., Bateman, R., Spencer, A., Wang, J., Shao, L., & Hilton, J. (2017). Anatomically preserved “strobili” and leaves from the Permian of China (Dorsalistachyaceae, fam. nov.) broaden knowledge of Noeggerathiales and constrain their possible taxonomic affinities. American Journal of Botany, 104, 127-149. 

Hilton, J., Riding, J. B., Rothwell, G. W (2016). Age and identity of the oldest pine fossils. Geology Forum Comment, Geology, Vol. 44, No. 8, e400