Paleocene floral diversities and turnover events in eastern North America and their relation to diversity models

Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology

DOI: 10.1016/0034-6667(94)90077-9



This paper uses angiosperm pollen taxon turnover (first and last appearance) and diversity events as metrics to describe the Paleocene floral history of the eastern Gulf Coast; data are from 64 samples and 67 angiosperm pollen taxa. Angiosperm pollen diversity was very low at the beginning of the Paleocene, rose slowly and then somewhat more rapidly to a maximum for the epoch in the middle of the late Paleoceneas a result of the maximum in rate of first appearances during the late early Paleocene and earliest late Paleocene. Diversity then dropped very rapidly at or near the end of the epoch as the rate of last appearances reached its maximum, resulting in the Terminal Paleocene Extinction Event. The latest Paleocene diversity decline coincided with an increase in mean annual temperature and probably in rainfall, representing the beginning of the climatic maximum for the Tertiary which characterized the early Eocene. The increase in diversity of early Paleocene floras in the eastern Gulf Coast resulted from exploitation of unfilled ecospace originating from (1) low regional diversity following the Terminal Cretaceous Extinction Event, and (2) creation of many new niches during the Paleocene, resulting, according to megafloral evidence, from a change to a new vegetation type (multistratal tropical rainforest) brought about by an increase in rainfall. The slow rate of recovery of earliest Paleocene angiosperm diversity in the eastern Gulf Coast may be explained in part by the diversity-dependence model of Carr and Kitchell (1980). However, additional factors may have contributed to the slow recovery: (1) the adverse terminal Cretaceous climates may have extended into the early Paleocene, (2) the initial Paleocene environment of the eastern Gulf Coast may have contained relatively few niches, (3) some earliest Paleocene angiosperms, particularly trees, may have had inherently poor capabilities for rapid evolution, and (4) there was a lack of significant immigration of new taxa to the region. In contrast, the earliest Eocene angiosperm flora recovered very rapidly from the Terminal Paleocene Extinction Event, and this high recovery rate resulted to a significant degree from immigration of new taxa from Europe; thus, the shape of the earliest Eocene diversity curve supports the immigration-dependence recovery model of Barry et al. (1991). ?? 1994.

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Paleocene floral diversities and turnover events in eastern North America and their relation to diversity models
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Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology
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