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The transition to a forested planet: Devonian forest ecosystems in New York and Svalbard

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The Devonian transition from small herbaceous plants to forest trees is one of the key episodes in the evolution of the Earth System, which is believed to have had important consequences for global sediment dynamics, weathering, and atmospheric composition. In the last 5 years dramatic evidence has emerged for the ‘footprints’ of the earliest forests, based on in situ discoveries in New York State (Gilboa, Cairo) and Svalbard. The talk will look at the nature of these discoveries, how they inform us about the timing and geography of the spread of earliest forests, and together with new understanding of the form and size of early trees, present a new understanding of early forest ecology.

Gilboa Research:


Studied palaeontology with Simon Conway-Morris and Barrie Rickards and sedimentology with Peter Friend and Tony Dixon (amongst others!) at Cambridge University before undertaking research on the Middle Devonian flora of Venezuela at Cardiff University. Worked on reconstructions of cladoxylopsid trees with Muriel Fairon-Demaret in Liege, Belgium with a Royal Society European Exchange Fellowship, before returning to Cardiff as a University of Wales Research Fellow and then as lecturer in the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences. Works extensively in USA , Greenland and Svalbard, South America and China.

This talk is part of the Sedgwick Club talks series.

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