The end-Permian extinction (EPE) has been considered to be contemporaneous on land and in the oceans. However, re-examined floristic records and new radiometric ages from Gondwana indicate a nuanced terrestrial ecosystem response to EPE global change. Paleosol geochemistry and climate simulations indicate paleoclimate change likely caused the demise of the widespread glossopterid ecosystems in Gondwana. Here, we evaluate the climate response of plants to the EPE via dendrochronology snapshots to produce annual-resolution records of tree-ring growth for a succession of late Permian and early Middle Triassic fossil forests from Antarctica. Paleosol geochemistry indicates a shift in paleoclimate towards more humid conditions in the Early and early Middle Triassic relative to the late Permian. Paleosol morphology, however, supports inferences of a lack of forested ecosystems in the Early Triassic. The plant responses to this paleoclimate change were accompanied by enhanced stress during the latest Permian as determined by high-resolution paleoclimate analysis of wood growth intervals. These results suggest that paleoclimate change during the late Permian exerted significant stress on high-latitude forests, consistent with the hypothesis that climate change was likely the primary driver of the extinction of the glossopterid ecosystems.
Gulbranson EL, Mellum MM, Corti V, Dahlseid A, Atkinson BA, Ryberg PE, Cornamusini G. Paleoclimate-induced stress on polar forested ecosystems prior to the Permian-Triassic mass extinction. Sci Rep. 2022 May 24;12(1):8702. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-12842-w. PMID: 35610472; PMCID: PMC9130125.