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Trends and patterns in the evolution of vascular plants: macroevolutionary implications of a multilevel taxonomic analysis

Authors

  • BORJA CASCALES-MIÑANA,

  • JESÚS MUÑOZ-BERTOMEU,

  • ROC ROS,

  • JUAN SEGURA


Borja Cascales-Miñana [borja.cascales@uv.es], Jesús Muñoz-Bertomeu [jmbertom@uv.es], Roc Ros [roc.ros@uv.es] and Juan Segura [juan.segura@uv.es], Departamento de Biología Vegetal, Universidad de Valencia, Av. Vicente Andrés Estellés s/n, 46100 Burjasot, Valencia, España; manuscript received on 08/07/2009; manuscript accepted on 09/12/2009.

Abstract

Cascales-Miñana, B., Muñoz-Bertomeu, J., Ros, R., Segura, J. 2010: Trends and patterns in the evolution of vascular plants: macroevolutionary implications of a multilevel taxonomic analysis. Lethaia, 10.1111/j.1502-3931.2009.00212.x

Studying the macroevolutionary patterns of vascular plants from the Silurian to the present-day provides a global record of plant life history. Evolutionary rates (origination, extinction and diversification) for families, orders, classes and divisions were analysed, as was abundance and richness for 21 time intervals. An accumulative analysis, based on the total plant fossil record, the accumulated extinctions and relative diversity, was also carried out. The diversification rate shows a uniquely constant and progressive reduction from the end of the Carboniferous to the Permian when the lowest values are registered. Very small peaks seem to reflect Cretaceous extinction for families. At family level, only two time intervals present higher extinctions, than originations. Richness and accumulative analyses reveal that only 32% of the families analysed became extinct, and that approximately 90% of them disappeared at the end of the Palaeozoic. Our results indicate that plants did not undergo mass extinction events in the ‘big five’ sense, but rather, mass ecological reorganization the absence of important extinction events or evolutionary innovations producing diversification patterns without abrupt changes. □Diversification, evolutionary, extinction, fossil record, innovations, radiation, vascular plants.

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