Terrestrial ecosystems: Vascular land plants (October 29 & 31)

We are now transitioning out of marine paleoecology to explore terrestrial ecosystems. Again, we will use the history of life through the fossil record to sort out paleoecological principles, concepts, and events.

Let’s start by looking at terrestrial ecosystems today, concentrating on how nutrients and energy flow through trophic systems on land. We will then move into the deep history of terrestrial ecosystems, developing additional paleoecological concepts and tracking some dramatic events revealed in the plant fossil record.

Geology in the News —

Strange linear “conga lines” of Ordovician trilobites have paleontologists talking!

Here’s that story about the near-instaneous acidification of the oceans when the asteroid hit at the end of the Cretaceous. The old volcanic hypothesis for the K/Pg extinctions is nearly dead now.

An exciting new paper in Science describes amazing evidence for ecosystem recovery after the End-Cretaceous extinction. [PDF of Science article here if you’re on campus.] Ask Claire Wineman about her connection to this story!