Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Palynofloral patterns of terrestrial ecosystem change during the end-Triassic event – a review


A review of the palynofloral succession at the well-documented Triassic–Jurassic boundary sites – Kuhjoch (Austria), St Audrie's Bay (UK), Stenlille (Denmark), Astartekløft (Greenland), Sverdrup Basin (Arctic Canada), Northern Carnarvon Basin (Western Australia), Southeast Queensland (eastern Australia) and New Zealand – show all sites experienced major to moderate re-organization of the terrestrial vegetation during the end-Triassic event. The changes led to subsequent taxonomic losses of between 17% and 73% of the Rhaetian pre-extinction palynoflora. The majority of the typical Rhaetian taxa that disappear are so far not known from in situ occurrences in reproductive structures of macrofossil plant taxa. From an ecological perspective, the most dramatic changes occurred in the Sverdrup Basin, Stenlille, Kuhjoch and Carnarvon Basin, where the pre- and post-extinction palynofloras were fundamentally different in both composition and dominance. These changes correspond to ecological severity Category I of McGhee et al. (2004), while the remaining sites are placed in their Subcategory IIa because there the pre-extinction ecosystems are disrupted, but recover and are not replaced post-extinction. Increased total abundances of spores on both hemispheres during the extinction and recovery intervals may indicate that environmental and/or climatic conditions became less favourable for seed plants. Such conditions may include expected effects of volcanism in the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province, such as acid rain, terrestrial soil and freshwater acidification due to volcanic sulfur dioxide emissions, fluctuating ultraviolet flux due to ozone depletion caused by halogens and halocarbon compounds, and drastic changes in climatic conditions due to greenhouse gas emissions.

Corresponding author
*Author for correspondence:
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

K. L. Alvin 1982. Cheirolepidiaceae: biology, structure and palaeoecology. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 37, 7198.

D. J. Batten 1974. Wealden palaeoecology from the distribution of plant fossils. Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association 85, 433–58.

B. Bomfleur , R. Schöner , J. W. Schneider , L. Viereck , H. Kerp & J. L. McKellar 2014. From the Transantarctic Basin to the Ferrar Large Igneous Province – new palynostratigraphic age constraints for the Triassic–Jurassic sedimentation and magmatism in East Antarctica. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 207, 1837.

N. R. Bonis , W. M. Kürschner & L. Krystyn 2009. A detailed palynological study of the Triassic–Jurassic transition in key sections of the Eiberg Basin (Northern Calcareous Alps, Austria). Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 156, 376400.

S. Cirilli , A. Marzoli , L. Tanner , H. Bertrand , N. Buratti , F. Jourdan , G. Bellieni , D. Kontak & P. R. Renne 2009. Latest Triassic onset of the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province (CAMP) volcanism in the Fundy Basin (Nova Scotia): new stratigraphic constraints. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 286, 514–25.

M.-E. Clémence , A. Bartolini , S. Gardin , G. Paris , V. Beaumont & K. N. Page 2010 a. Early Hettangian benthic-planktonic coupling at Doniford (SW England): palaeoenvironmental implications for the aftermath of the end-Triassic crisis. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 295, 102–15.

M. E. Clémence , S. Gardin , A. Bartolini , G. Paris , V. Beaumont & J. Guex 2010 b. Bentho-planktonic evidence from the Austrian Alps for a decline in sea-surface carbonate production at the end of the Triassic. Swiss Journal of Geosciences 103, 293315.

N. J. De Jersey & J. L. McKellar 2013. The palynology of the Triassic–Jurassic transition on southeastern Queensland, Australia, and correlation with New Zealand. Palynology 37, 77114.

S. J. Fowell & P. E. Olsen 1993. Time calibration of Triassic/Jurassic microfloral turnover, eastern North America. Tectonophysics 222, 361–9.

J. E. Francis 1984. The seasonal environment of the Purbeck (Upper Jurassic) fossil forests. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 48, 285307.

M. T. Galli , F. Jadoul , S. M. Bernasconi , S. Cirilli & H. Weissert 2007. Stratigraphy and palaeoenvironmental analysis of the Triassic–Jurassic transition in the western Southern Alps (Northern Italy). Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 244, 5270.

A. Hallam 1997. Estimates of the amount and rate of sea-level change across the Rhaetian–Hettangian and Pliensbachian–Toarcian boundaries (latest Triassic to early Jurassic). Journal of the Geological Society, London 154, 773–9.

A. Hallam & P. B. Wignall 1999. Mass extinction and sea-level change. Earth-Science Reviews 48, 217–58.

A. Hallam & P. B. Wignall 2000. Facies change across the Triassic–Jurassic boundary in Nevada USA. Journal of the Geological Society, London 157, 4954.

E. Hermann , P. A. Hochuli , H. Bucher & G. Roohi 2012. Uppermost Permian to Middle Triassic palynology of the Salt Range and Surghar Range, Pakistan. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 169, 6195.

C. Heunisch , F. W. Luppold , L. Reinhardt & H.-G. Röhling 2010. Palynofazies, bio- und lithostratigraphie im Grenzbereich Trias/Jura in der Bohrung Mariental 1 (Lappwaldmulde, Ostniedersachsen). Zeitschrift der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Geowissenschaften 161, 5198.

A. v. Hillebrandt & L. Krystyn 2009. On the oldest Jurassic ammonites of Europe (Northern Calcareous Alps, Austria) and their global significance. Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläeontologie Abhandlungen 253, 163–95.

M. W. Hounslow , P. E. Posen & G. Warrington 2004. Magnetostratigraphy and biostratigraphy of the Upper Triassic and lowermost Jurassic succession, St. Audrie's Bay, UK. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 213, 331–58.

W. M. Kürschner , N. R. Bonis & L. Krystyn 2007. Carbon-isotope stratigraphy and palynostratigraphy of the Triassic–Jurassic transition in the Tiefengraben section – Northern Calcareous Alps (Austria). Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 244, 257–80.

W. M. Kürschner , L. Mander & J. C. McElwain 2014. A gymnosperm affinity for Ricciisporites tuberculatus Lundblad: implications for vegetation and environmental reconstructions in the Late Triassic. Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments 94, 295305.

S. Lindström & S. McLoughlin 2007. Synchronous palynofloristic extinction and recovery after the end-Permian event in the Prince Charles Mountains, Antarctica: implications for palynofloristic turnover across Gondwana. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 145, 89122.

S. Lindström , G. K. Pedersen , B. van de Schootbrugge , K. H. Hansen , N. Kuhlmann , J. Thein , L. Johansson , H. I. Petersen , C. Alwmark , K. Dybkjær , R. Weibel , M. Erlström , L. H. Nielsen , W. Oschmann & C. Tegner 2015. Intense and widespread seismicity during the end-Triassic mass extinction due to emplacement of a large igneous province. Geology 43, 387–90.

S. Lindström , B. van de Schootbrugge , K. Dybkjær , G. K. Pedersen , J. Fiebig , L. H. Nielsen & S. Richoz 2012. No causal link between terrestrial ecosystem change and methane release during the end-Triassic mass-extinction. Geology 40, 531–4.

C. V. Looy , W. A. Brugman , D. L. Dilcher & H. Visscher 1999. The delayed resurgence of equatorial forests after the Permian–Triassic ecological crisis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 96, 13857–62.

L. Mander , M. E. Collinson , W. G. Chaloner , A. P. R. Brain & D. G. Long 2012. The ultrastructure and botanical affinity of the problematic mid-Mesozoic palynomorph Ricciisporites tuberculatus Lundblad. International Journal of Plant Sciences 173, 429–40.

L. Marynowski & B. R. T. Simoneit 2009. Widespread Upper Triassic to Lower Jurassic wildfire records from Poland: evidence from charcoal and pyrolytic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Palaios 24, 785–98.

J. C. McElwain & S. W. Punyasena 2007. Mass extinction events and the plant fossil record. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 22, 548–56.

G. R. McGhee , M. E. Clapham , P. M. Sheehan , D. J. Bottjer & M. L. Droser 2013. A new ecological-severity ranking of major Phanerozoic biodiversity crises. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 370, 260–70.

G. R. McGhee , P. M. Sheehan , D. J. Bottjer & M. L. Droser 2004. Ecological ranking of Phanerozoic biodiversity crises: ecological and taxonomic severities are decoupled. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 211, 289–97.

P. E. Olsen , D. V. Kent , H.-D. Sues , C. Koeberl , H. Huber , A. Montanari , E. C. Rainforth , S. J. Fowell , M. J. Szajna & B. W. Hartline 2002. Ascent of dinosaurs linked to an iridium anomaly at the Triassic–Jurassic boundary. Science 296, 1305–7.

C. N. Page 2002. Ecological strategies in fern evolution: a neopteridological overview. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 119, 133.

H. I. Petersen & S. Lindström 2012. Synchronous wildfire activity rise and mire deforestation at the Triassic–Jurassic boundary. PLoS One 7, e47236.

K. R. Pedersen & J. J. Lund 1980. Palynology of the plant-bearing Rhaetian to Hettangian Kap Stewart Formation, Scoresby Sund, East Greenland. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 31, 169.

S. Richoz , van B. de Schootbrugge , J. Pross , W. Püttmann , T. M. Quan , S. Lindström , C. Heunisch , J. Fiebig , R. Maquil , S. Schouten , C. A. Hauzenberger & P. B. Wignall 2012. Hydrogen sulphide poisoning of shallow seas following the end-Triassic extinction. Nature Geoscience 5, 662–7.

G. Roghi 2004. Palynological investigations in the Carnian of the Cave del Predil area (Julian Alps, NE Italy). Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 132, 135.

K. Ruckwied & A. E. Götz 2009. Climate change at the Triassic/Jurassic boundary: palynological evidence from the Furkaska section (Tatra Mountains, Slovakia). Geologica Carpathica 60, 139–49.

B. Schoene , J. Guex , A. Bartolini , U. Schaltegger & T. Blackburn 2010. Correlating the end-Triassic mass extinction and flood basalt volcanism at the 100 ka level. Geology 38, 387–90.

W. M. L. Schuurman 1977. Aspects of late Triassic palynology. 2. Palynology of the “Grés et Schiste à Avicula contorta” and “Argiles de Levallois” (Rhaetian) of northeastern France and southern Luxemburg. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 23, 159–69.

J. J. Sepkoski 1996. Patterns of Phanerozoic extinction: a perspective from global data bases. In Global Events and Event Stratigraphy in the Phanerozoic (ed. O. H. Walliser ), pp. 3551. Berlin: Springer.

M. Steinthorsdottir , F. I. Woodward , F. Surlyk & J. C. McElwain 2012. Deep-time evidence of a link between elevated CO2 concentrations and perturbations in the hydrological cycle via drop in plant transpiration. Geology 40, 815–8.

G. R. Stevens 2012. Otapirian and Aratauran sequences (latest Triassic and earliest Jurassic) along the northern Marokopa coast (SW Auckland, New Zealand) and observations on the Triassic/Jurassic boundary in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics 55, 3751.

A. R. Sweet & D. R. Braman 1992. The K–T boundary and contiguous strata in western Canada: interactions between paleoenvironments and palynological assemblages. Cretaceous Research 13, 3179.

V. Vajda , J. I. Raine & C. J. Hollis 2001. Indication of global deforestation at the Cretaceous –Tertiary boundary by New Zealand fern spike. Science 294, 1700–2.

B. van de Schootbrugge , T. M. Quan , S. Lindström , W. Püttmann , C. Heunisch , J. Pross , J. Fiebig , R. Petschick , H.-G. Röhling , S. Richoz , Y. Rosenthal & P. G. Falkowski 2009. Floral changes across the Triassic/Jurassic boundary linked to flood basalt volcanism. Nature Geoscience 2, 589–94.

B. van de Schootbrugge , F. Tremolada , Y. Rosenthal , T. R. Bailey , S. Feist-Burkhardt , H. Brinkhuis , J. Pross , D. V. Kent & P. G. Falkowski 2007. End-Triassic calcification crisis and blooms of organic-walled “disaster species”. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 244, 126–41.

J. H. A. van Konijnenburg-van Cittert 2002. Ecology of some Late Triassic to Early Cretaceous ferns in Eurasia. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 119, 113–24.

J. H. A. van Konijnenburg-van Cittert 2008. The Jurassic fossil plant record of the UK area. Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association 119, 5972.

H. Visscher & C. J. van der Zwan 1981. Palynology of the Circum-Mediterranean Triassic: phytological and palaeoclimatological implications. Geologische Rundschau 70, 625–34.

H. Visscher , M. van Houte , W. A. Brugman & R. J. Poort 1994. Rejection of Carnian (late Triassic) “pluvial event” in Europe. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 83, 217–26.

P. D. Ward , J. W. Haggart , E. S. Carter , D. Wilbur , H. W. Tipper & T. Evans 2001. Sudden productivity collapse associated with the Triassic–Jurassic boundary mass-extinction. Science 292, 1148–51.

J. H. Whiteside , P. G. Olsen , D. V. Kent , S. J. Fowell & M. Et-Touhami 2007. Synchrony between the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province and the Triassic–Jurassic mass-extinction event? Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 244, 345–67.

J. H. Whiteside & P. D. Ward 2011. Ammonoid diversity and disparity track episodes of chaotic carbon cycling during the early Mesozoic. Geology 39, 99102.

O. P. Yaroshenko 2007. Late Triassic palynological flora from Western Ciscaucasia. Palaeontological Journal 41, 1190–7.

L. Yong , P. A. Allen , A. L. Densmore & X. Qiang 2003. Evolution of the Longmen Shan foreland basin (Western Sichuan, China) during the Late Triassic Indosinian Orogeny. Basin Research 15, 117–38.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Geological Magazine
  • ISSN: 0016-7568
  • EISSN: 1469-5081
  • URL: /core/journals/geological-magazine
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 38
Total number of PDF views: 47 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 295 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 21st September 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.