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Comparing Palynological Abundance and Diversity: Implications for Biotic Replacement during the Cretaceous Angiosperm Radiation

Richard Lupia, Scott Lidgard and Peter R. Crane
Paleobiology
Vol. 25, No. 3 (Summer, 1999), pp. 305-340
Published by: Paleontological Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2666001
Page Count: 36
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Comparing Palynological Abundance and Diversity: Implications for Biotic Replacement during the Cretaceous Angiosperm Radiation
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Abstract

The Cretaceous radiation of angiosperms initiated a major reorganization of terrestrial plant communities as dominance by pteridophytic and gymnospermic groups eventually gave way to dominance by angiosperms. Previously, patterns of biotic replacement have been assessed using measures based on taxonomic diversity data. However, using measures of both abundance and diversity to investigate replacement patterns provides more information about macroecological change in the fossil record than either can provide alone. Analyses of an updated and expanded database of North American palynological samples from Cretaceous sediments document a rapid increase in angiosperm diversity and abundance within individual fossil palynofloras (representing local/subregional vegetation). New analyses of floristic diversity patterns support previous results and indicate that the decline of free-sporing plants is more pronounced than the decline of gymnosperms. In contrast, analyses of abundance data appear to show that the decline of gymnosperms is far more pronounced than the decline of free-sporing plants. Detailed examination of both data sets segregated by paleolatitude shows that this apparent contradiction reflects biogeographical differences in the patterns of vegetational change (e.g., free-sporing plants declined in abundance at lower latitudes) as well as sampling bias (e.g., greater sampling in the northern region in the Late Cretaceous). Analyses accounting for these biases support the conclusion that as angiosperms radiated, free-sporing plants rather than gymnosperms (in this case, mainly conifers) experienced the most pronounced decline. A thorough understanding of the Cretaceous radiation of angiosperms will require both abundance and diversity data. It also will require expanding the analyses presented here into other geographic regions as well as sampling more completely at all spatial scales.

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