Land Floras: The Major Late Phanerozoic Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide/Oxygen Control

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Science  02 Jun 1978:
Vol. 200, Issue 4345, pp. 1060-1062
DOI: 10.1126/science.200.4345.1060


Since at least the late Mesozoic, the abundance of terrestrial vegetation has been the major factor in atmospheric carbon dioxideloxygen fluctuations. Of modern ecosystem types occupying more than 1 percent of the earth's surface, productivity/area ratios of terrestrial ecosystems (excepting tundra and alpine meadow, desert scrub, and rock, ice, and sand) exceed those of marine ecosystems and probably have done so for much of late Phanerozoic time. Reduction of terrestrial ecosystems during marine transgression would decrease the world primary productivity, thus increasing the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration and decreasing the oxygen concentration. Regression would produce opposite effects.