J Syst Evol ›› 2019, Vol. 57 ›› Issue (2): 129-141.DOI: 10.1111/jse.12420

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Dynamics and evolution of Turgay‐type vegetation in Western Siberia throughout the early Oligocene to earliest Miocene—a study based on diversity of plant functional types in the carpological record

Svetlana Popova1*, Torsten Utescher2,3, Dmitry Gromyko1, Volker Mosbrugger3, and Louis François4   

  1. 1Komarov Botanical Institute of RAS, Palaeobotanical Department, Saint Petersburg, 2 prof. Popova str., 197376, Russian Federation
    2Steinmann Institute, Bonn University, Bonn, Nussallee 8, D-53115, Germany
    3Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum / Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, Frankfurt, Senckenberganlage 25, D-60325, Germany
    4Université de Liège, Unité de Modélisation du Climat et des Cycles Biogéochimiques (UMCCB), Liège, 17 allée du Six Août, B-4000, Belgium
  • Received:2017-11-28 Accepted:2018-04-01 Online:2018-04-18 Published:2019-03-01

Abstract: Based on ecospectra of 66 published carpofloras we study dynamics and evolution of Turgay vegetation in Western Siberia during the early Oligocene to earliest Miocene. The ecospectra are obtained using a Plant Functional Type (PFT) classification system comprising 26 herbaceous to arboreal PFTs. The carpofloras originate from seven floristic levels covering the time‐span from the Rupelian to early Aquitanian. Key elements of these levels are documented based on original collection materials. Although impacted by local edaphic conditions, the ecospectra can be interpreted in terms of changing vegetation. Our data show that warm temperate mesophytic, mixed conifer‐broad‐leaved deciduous forest assemblages persisted throughout the Oligocene and earliest Miocene in this core area of Turgai type vegetation. This is in line with comparatively stable climate conditions persisting in the studied time‐span, showing a minor temperature decline and coeval moderate increase in seasonality and precipitation. Concurrently, the reconstructed ecospectra contradict significant continental drying throughout the Oligocene and earliest Miocene. Spatial variability of the proportions of PFTs within the single floristic horizons primarily reflects local edaphic conditions. High diversities of PFTs characteristic for swamp vegetation are mainly confined to the early Oligocene and have a regional focus. Our results indicate that taxonomical diversity, particularly concerning mesic herbs and deciduous shrubs and trees, increased towards the end of the Oligocene. This increase in biodiversity probably can be attributed to an increase in rainfall and extension of terrestrial habitats after the final retreat of the Paratethys.