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Abstract

A siliceous permineralized peat block recovered from Hopen in the Svalbard archipelago hosts a low-diversity Late Triassic flora dominated by autochthonous roots and stems of bennettitaleans and lycophytes, and parautochthonous leaves, sporangia, spores and pollen from a small range of pteridophytes and gymnosperms. Some parenchymatous bennettitalean root cells show interactions with chytrid fungi and bacteria; the remains of other fungi and fungi-like organisms are dispersed within the peat’s detrital matrix. Cavities excavated through some roots and compacted detritus contain abundant coprolites probably derived from sapro-xylophagous oribatid mites, although no body fossils have yet been identified. Sparse larger coprolites containing leaf fragments attest to the presence of invertebrate folivores in the ancient ecosystem. The low-diversity flora, relatively few trophic levels and simple nutritional web, together with sedimentological aspects of the host formation and the peat structure, collectively favour accumulation of the organic mass as a fibric (root-dominated) peat within a temperate (high middle-latitude), well-aerated mire.

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