Angiosperm Diversification and Paleolatitudinal Gradients in Cretaceous Floristic Diversity

Science  03 Nov 1989:
Vol. 246, Issue 4930, pp. 675-678
DOI: 10.1126/science.246.4930.675


The latitudinally diachronous appearance of angiosperm pollen during the Cretaceous is well documented, but the subsequent diversification and accompanying significant changes in floristic dominance have not been assessed quantitatively for a wide range of paleolatitudes. Trend surfaces fitted to within-palynoflora diversity data from 1125 pollen and spore assemblages show that angiosperms first become floristically prominent in low paleolatitude areas(∼20°N to 20°S). Non-magnoliid dicotyledons show a similar but slightly delayed pattern of increase and are the principal component of angiosperm diversity from all areas sampled. Monocotyledons and magnoliid dicotyledons are significant primarily in low to middle paleolatitude palynofloras(∼50°N to 20°S) during the latest Cretaceous. As angiosperms become increasingly prevalent the importance of most non-angiosperm taxa either decreases or remains unchanged. The only apparent exception is a striking increase in gnetalean diversity concurrent with the initial angiosperm diversification at low paleolatitudes.

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