Departmental Papers (EES)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

May 2001


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.


Copyright 2001 Annual Reviews. Reprinted from Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Volume 29, May 2001, pages 461-487.
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ecosystem stability, glaciation, biome, coal, extinction



Date Posted: 27 July 2005

This document has been peer reviewed.