Composition and dynamics of the great Phanerozoic Evolutionary Floras

Abstract : Factor analysis of a data set representing the global distribution of vascular plant families through time shows the broad pattern of vegetation history can be explained in terms of five Evolutionary Floras. The Rhyniophytic (=Eotrachyophytic) Flora represents the very earliest (Silurian and earliest Devonian) vascular plants, notably the Rhyniophytopsida. The Eophytic Flora represents the early (Early–Middle Devonian) mainly homosporous land plants, notably the Zosterophyllopsida, Trimerophytopsida and early Lycopsida. The Palaeophytic Flora represents the Late Devonian and Carboniferous vegetation, which saw the introduction of heterospory among the spore producing plants and of early gymnosperms. The Mesophytic Flora first appeared in the Late Carboniferous and Permian macrofossil record, although there is palynological evidence of these plants having grown earlier in extra-basinal habitats and was dominated by gymnosperms with more modern affinities. The Cenophytic Flora that first appeared during Cretaceous times was overwhelmingly dominated by angiosperms. The end-Devonian, end-Triassic and end-Cretaceous mass-extinction events recognized in the marine fossil record had little impact on the diversity dynamics of these Evolutionary Floras. Rather, the changes between floras mainly reflect key evolutionary innovations such as heterospory, ovules and angiospermy.
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Christopher J. Cleal, Borja Cascales-Miñana. Composition and dynamics of the great Phanerozoic Evolutionary Floras. Lethaia, Wiley, 2014, 47 (4), pp.469-484. ⟨10.1111/let.12070⟩. ⟨hal-01111145⟩

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