Quantitative plant assemblage data from coal balls, miospores, megaspores, and compression floras from the Calhoun coal bed (Missourian) of the Illinois Basin (USA) are used to interpret spatial and temporal changes in plant communities in the paleo-peat swamp. Coal-ball and miospore floras from the Calhoun coal bed are dominated strongly by tree ferns, and pteridosperms and sigillarian lycopsids are subdominant, depending on geographic location within the coal bed. Although the overall composition of Calhoun peat-swamp assemblages is consistent both temporally and spatially, site-to-site differences and short-term shifts in species dominance indicate local topographic and hydrologic control on species composition within the broader context of the swamp. Statistical comparison of the Calhoun miospore assemblages with those from other Late Pennsylvanian coal beds suggests that the same basic species pool was represented in each peat-swamp landscape and that the relative patterns of dominance and diversity were persistent from site to site. Therefore, it appears that the relative patterns of proportional dominance stayed roughly the same from one coal bed to the next during Late Pennsylvanian glacially-driven climatic oscillations.
Additional publication details
Paleoecology of the Late Pennsylvanian-age Calhoun coal bed and implications for long-term dynamics of wetland ecosystems