Phytogeographic reconstructions have been published for most Paleozoic series since the Pr??i??doli??, but there have been few attempts to synthesize this data into a comprehensive review of the characteristics and causes of the changing phytogeographic patterns for the whole Paleozoic history of the vascular flora. Existing floristic analyses have been compiled in this manuscript and the resulting data are used to reconstruct the evolution of floristic provinces since the Silurian. The earliest plant fossil records indicate that provinciality was characteristic of terrestrial vascular plant distributions right from the beginning of terrestrial colonization by vascular plants. This interpretation differs markedly from the views of many workers who still maintain that pre-Upper Carboniferous floras were uniform and cosmopolitan in distribution. Three of the four major phytogeographic units, i.e. Angara, Euramerica, and Gondwana, can be recognized in the earliest fossil floras. The fourth unit, Cathaysia, differentiated from Euramerica during the late Upper Carboniferous. Phytogeographic differentiation occurs in direct response to climatic gradients and physiographic barriers. As these gradients and barriers change, provincial boundaries expand and contract, fragment, reassemble and reassort. Phytogeographic units are dynamic through time. ?? 1996 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
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The development of floristic provinciality during the Middle and Late Paleozoic