Global vegetation change through the Miocene/Pliocene boundary

Thure E. Cerling, John M. Harris, Bruce J. MacFadden, Meave G. Leakey, Jay Quade, Vera Eisenmann, James R. Ehieringer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1693 Scopus citations


Between 8 and 6 million years ago, there was a global increase in the biomass of plants using C4 photosynthesis as indicated by changes in the carbon isotope ratios of fossil tooth enamel in Asia, Africa, North America and South America. This abrupt and widespread increase in C4 biomass may be related to a decrease in atmospheric CO2 concentrations below a threshold that favoured C3-photosynthesizing plants. The change occurred earlier at lower latitudes, as the threshold for C3 photosynthesis is higher at warmer temperatures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-158
Number of pages6
Issue number6647
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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