Early seed plant radiation: an ecological hypothesis
C. Prestianni, P. Gerrienne, 2010. "Early seed plant radiation: an ecological hypothesis", The Terrestrialization Process: Modelling Complex Interactions at the Biosphere–Geosphere Interface, M. Vecoli, G. Clément, B. Meyer-Berthaud
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The earliest steps of seed plant evolution have been extensively studied during the past 25 years. There is a growing body of evidence indicating that the first major spermatophyte radiation occurred during the Late Devonian. At least fourteen Late Devonian species are now recognized, and our knowledge of the diversity of those early seed plants has dramatically increased. Five morphotypes of seeds have been defined, mostly based on cupule morphology and on the number and degree of fusion of the integumentary lobes. In this paper, we critically discuss the abundant environmental information in order to characterize the environment in which this radiation occurred. Sedimentological information indicates that seed plants evolved in disturbed environments. It is suggested that early seed plants thrived in the shade of the dominating Archaeopteris, and that their evolution was canalized by this strong biotic pressure. We also confirm the previous suggestion that the variability of seed morphotypes can be explained by the weak abiotic selective pressure that existed in the Archaeopteris understory.
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The Terrestrialization Process: Modelling Complex Interactions at the Biosphere–Geosphere Interface
The invasion of the land by plants (‘terrestrialization’) was one of the most significant evolutionary events in the history of life on Earth, and correlates in time with periods of major palaeoenvironmental perturbations. The development of a vegetation cover on the previously barren land surfaces impacted on the global biogeochemical cycles and the geological processes of erosion and sediment transport. The terrestrialization of plants preceded the rise of major new groups of animals, such as insects and tetrapods, the latter numbering some 24 000 living species, including ourselves. Early land-plant evolution also correlates with the most spectacular decline of atmospheric CO2 concentration of Phanerozoic times and with the onset of a protracted period of glacial conditions on Earth. This book includes a selection of papers covering different aspects of the terrestrialization, from palaeobotany to vertebrate palaeontology and geochemistry, promoting a multidisciplinary approach to the understanding of the co-evolution of life and its environments during Early to Mid-Palaeozoic times.