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Late Carboniferous and Early Permian strata record the transition from a cold interval in Earth history, characterized by the repeated periods of glaciation and deglaciation of the southern pole, to a warm-climate interval. Consequently, this time period is the best available analogue to the Recent in which to study patterns of vegetational response, both to glacial-interglacial oscillation and to the appearance of warm climate. Carboniferous wetland ecosystems were dominated by spore-producing plants and early gymnospermous seed plants. Global climate changes, largely drying,forced vegetational changes, resulting in a change to a seed plant–dominated world, beginning first at high latitudes during the Carboniferous, reaching the tropics near the Permo-Carboniferous boundary. For most of this time plant assemblages were very conservative in their composition. Change in the dominant vegetation was generally a rapid process, which suggests that environmental thresholds were crossed, and involved little mixing of elements from the wet and dry floras.
ecosystem stability, glaciation, biome, coal, extinction
Date Posted: 27 July 2005
This document has been peer reviewed.