Skip to Main Content
Book Chapter

Plants and floral change at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary: Three decades on

By
Robert A. Spicer
Robert A. Spicer
Centre for Earth, Planetary, Space and Astronomical Research, The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, UK
Search for other works by this author on:
Margaret E. Collinson
Margaret E. Collinson
Department of Earth Sciences, Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX, UK
Search for other works by this author on:
Published:
September 01, 2014

We review the extensive record of plant fossils before, at, and after the Cretaceous-Paleogene event horizons, recognizing that key differences between plants and other organisms have important implications for understanding the patterns of environmental change associated with the Cretaceous-Paleogene event. Examples are given of the breadth of prior environmental conditions and ecosystem states to place Cretaceous-Paleogene events in context. Floral change data across the Cretaceous-Paleogene are reviewed with new data from North America and New Zealand. Latest Cretaceous global terrestrial ecology was fire prone and likely to have been adapted to fire. Environmental stress was exacerbated by frequent climate variations, and near-polar vegetation tolerated cold dark winters. Numerous floristic studies across Cretaceous-Paleogene event horizons in North America attest to continent-wide ecological trauma, but elsewhere greater floral turnover is sometimes seen well before the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary rather than at it. Data from the Teapot Dome site (Wyoming) indicate continued photosynthesis, but during or immediately after the Cretaceous-Paleogene event, growth was restricted sufficiently to curtail normal plant reproductive cycles. After the Cretaceous-Paleogene transition in New Zealand, leaf form appears to have been filtered for leaves adapted to extreme cold, but at other high-southern-latitude sites, as in the Arctic, little change in floral composition is observed. Although lacking high-resolution (millimeter level) stratigraphy and Cretaceous-Paleogene event horizons, gradual floral turnover in India, and survival there of normally environmentally sensitive taxa, suggests that Deccan volcanism was unlikely to have caused the short-term trauma so characteristic elsewhere but may have played a role in driving global environmental change and ecosystem sensitivity prior to and after the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary.

You do not currently have access to this article.

Figures & Tables

Contents

GSA Special Papers

Volcanism, Impacts, and Mass Extinctions: Causes and Effects

Gerta Keller
Gerta Keller
Department of Geosciences, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey 08544, USA
Search for other works by this author on:
Andrew C. Kerr
Andrew C. Kerr
School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Cardiff University, Park Place, Cardiff CF10 3AT, Wales, UK
Search for other works by this author on:
Geological Society of America
Volume
505
ISBN print:
9780813725055
Publication date:
September 01, 2014

References

Related

Citing Books via

Related Articles
Related Book Content
Close Modal
This Feature Is Available To Subscribers Only

Sign In or Create an Account

Close Modal
Close Modal