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In the Carboniferous, terrestrial vegetation became widespread, diverse and abundant. The resulting fossil record has proved to be an effective biostratigraphic tool for intra- and interbasinal correlations. Besides palaeogeographical configurations, Carboniferous plant biostratigraphy is affected by a transition from greenhouse conditions during most of the Mississippian to an icehouse climate in the Pennsylvanian. The greenhouse Mississippian climate resulted in weak provincialism, with a cosmopolitan flora ranging from the tropics to middle latitudes. The global cooling around the Mississippian–Pennsylvanian boundary enhanced development of a latitudinal climatic zonation and related floral provincialism. These changes are expressed in the recognition of distinct realms or kingdoms, where the tropical Amerosinian Realm (or Euramerican and Cathaysian realms) is surrounded by the Angaran and Gondwanan realms occupying middle to high latitudes of the northern and southern hemispheres, respectively. Floristic endemism in the Pennsylvanian precludes development of a global macrofloral biostratigraphy. Instead, each realm or area has its own biostratigraphic scheme. Poorer and less diverse floras of the Gondwanan and Angaran realms resulted in the establishment of relatively low-resolution macrofloral biostratigraphic schemes. Higher-resolution macrofloral zonations exist only in the tropical Amerosinian Realm due to diverse and abundant floras dominated by free-sporing and early seed plants occupying extensive wetlands.

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