Abstract

Vegetation diversity and pattern changes, and their relation to tectono-sedimentary histories are compared between selected Euramerican Late Palaeozoic coalfields, to understand better the controls on the dynamics of the Pennsylvanian terrestrial ecosystems and to demonstrate the problems with comparing data from various basins. The analysis is based on data from the following basins of different geotectonic and palaeogeographical positions: the cratonic Pennines Basin, the foreland South Wales and Upper Silesia basins, and the fault-related Intra Sudetic and Central and Western Bohemia basins. The analysis indicates that complex factors are responsible for changes in plant diversity and vegetation patterns. These are related to climate, tectonics, preservation potential, sampling biases and the current state of revision of the flora in each basin. Plant diversity patterns in the basins differ because of local controls and/or the character and detail of the available data. Maximum diversity varies among the basins within the Langsettian and Duckmantian substages. Two apparent step-like drops in diversity were detected within coal-bearing strata of most basins: at the Duckmantian/Bolsovian boundary and at the Bolsovian/Asturian boundary. Further and more prominent falls are related to transitions from coal-bearing to non-coal-bearing (mostly red bed) strata or vice versa during Stephanian times. Interpretation of climatic signals recorded in the sedimentary successions indicates that Westphalian and middle Stephanian times were wet intervals, whereas early and late Stephanian times were drier.

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