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Effects of Past Global Change on Life

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What can we expect as global change progresses? Will there be thresholds that trigger sudden shifts in environmental conditions--or that cause catastrophic destruction of life?

Effects of Past Global Change on Life explores what earth scientists are learning about the impact of large-scale environmental changes on ancient life--and how these findings may help us resolve today's environmental controversies.

Leading authorities discuss historical climate trends and what can be learned from the mass extinctions and other critical periods about the rise and fall of plant and animal species in response to global change. The volume develops a picture of how environmental change has closed some evolutionary doors while opening others--including profound effects on the early members of the human family.

An expert panel offers specific recommendations on expanding research and improving investigative tools--and targets historical periods and geological and biological patterns with the most promise of shedding light on future developments.

This readable and informative book will be of special interest to professionals in the earth sciences and the environmental community as well as concerned policymakers.


Suggested Citation

National Research Council. 1995. Effects of Past Global Change on Life. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

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Publication Info

272 pages | 8.5 x 11
  • Hardcover: 978-0-309-05127-9
  • Ebook: 978-0-309-17681-1

Table of Contents

skim chapter
Front Matter i-xvi
Overview and Recommendations 1-20
1. Oxygen and Proterozoic Evolution: An Update 21-33
2. Impact of Late Ordovician Glaciation-Deglaciation on Marine Life 34-46
3. Global Change Leading to Biodiversity Crisis in a Greenhouse World: The Cenomanian-Turonian (Cretaceous) Mass Extinction 47-71
4. Cretaceous-Tertiary (K/T) Mass Extinction: Effect of Global Change on Calcareous Microplankton 72-93
5. Terminal Paleocene Mass Extinction in the Deep Sea: Association with Global Warming 94-107
6. Tropical Climate Stability and Implications for the Distribution of Life 108-117
7. Neogene Ice Age in the North Atlantic Region: Climatic Changes, Biotic Effects, and Forcing Factors 118-133
8. The Response of Hierarchically Structured Ecosystems to Long-Term Climate Change: A Case Study Using Tropical Peat Swamps of Pennsylvanian Age 134-155
9. The Late Cretaceous and Cenozoic History of Vegetation and Climate at Northern and Couthern High Latitudes: A Comparison 156-173
10. The Impact of Climatic Changes on the Development of the Australian Flora 174-183
11. Global Climatic Influence on Cenozoic Land Mammal Faunas 184-208
12. Biotic Responses to Temperature and Salinity Changes During Last Deglaciation, Gulf of Mexico 209-220
13. Pollen Records of Late Quaternary Vegetation Change: Plant Community Rearrangements and Evolutionary Implications 221-232
14. Climatic Forcing and the Origin of the Human Genus 233-244
Index 245-250

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