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Ecological aspects of the rise of angiosperms: a challenge to the reproductive superiority hypotheses

Biological Journal of the Linnean Society
Oxford University Press
Publication Date
  • Angiosperms
  • Biogeography
  • Co-Evolution
  • Gymnosperms
  • Ecology
  • Geography


Abstract The rise to dominance of the angiosperms is frequently considered to be directly or indirectly due to co-evolutionary mutualisms with vertebrate seed dispersers and insect pollinators (‘reproductive coevolution hypothesis’). The decline of the gymnosperms is considered to be due to the inefficiency of wind pollination in maintaining heterozygosity in angiosperm-enriched communities or the limited scope for speciation of wind-pollinated taxa. Contrasting hypotheses for the rise of the angiosperms focus on either environmental change or superior reproductive and vegetative innovations leading to faster growth rates. We suggest that plant-animal interactions have been overemphasized and competitive interactions largely overlooked, as determinants of the Cretaceous revolution in plant history.

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