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Floodplain habitats of braided river systems: depositional environment, flora and fauna of the Solling Formation (Buntsandstein, Lower Triassic) from Bremke and Fürstenberg (Germany)

Abstract

The Solling Formation is the most distinctive unit of the Early Triassic Buntsandstein of the epicontinental Central European Basin. The Solling Formation of Bremke and Fürstenberg has yielded one of the richest and most diversified plant collections of the Middle Buntsandstein to date, one of the oldest floras in Europe after the end-Permian mass extinction. Based on the plant fossils, the Middle Buntsandstein ecosystem from Bremke and Fürstenberg represents not only one of the earliest floras in Europe after the end-Permian extinction but also one of the earliest Triassic occurrences of insect herbivory from any documented flora worldwide and thus provides a rare glimpse into the third pulse of herbivore expansion. Integrated palaeobotanical, palaeontological and sedimentological studies have enabled reconstruction of two different floodplain environmental settings of the Solling Formation, including their vegetation, the plant–insect interactions and revealing how important taphonomy and environmental settings were for the preservation of Middle Buntsandstein plants. At Bremke a levee-crevasse splay complex is reconstructed that tributed into perennial backwsamps and at Fürstenberg unconfined subaerial flows formed a sandy aggradational floodplain with ephemeral ponds. A rich plant community was established and became preserved in backswamps and ponds. This suggests that the scarcity of Buntsandstein floras is clearly related to taphonomical processes and not to extreme environmental conditions under arid or semi-arid climates.

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Acknowledgements

This article is dedicated to Johanna H.A. van Konijnenburg-van Cittert on the occasion of her 70th birthday. We join the palaeobotanical community in saluting Han, who was a wonderful mentor (E.K.) and inspiration with her love and passion for research and her knowledge on palaeobotany and palynology. We appreciate the technical assistance of G. Hundertmark and T.R. Stegemann (Göttingen). Stimulating discussions (M.R.) on the Buntsandstein with J. Paul (Göttingen) are also gratefully acknowledged. The concluding drawing was made by Mattia Guberti (Ravenna). The authors acknowledge careful reviews by H.-G. Röhling (Hannover) and an anonymous reviewer. This paper is part of the project “The Permian-Triassic ecological crisis in the Dolomites: extinction and recovery dynamics in terrestrial ecosystems” funded by the Promotion of Educational Policies, University and Research Department of the Autonomous Province of Bolzano–South Tyrol. E.K. acknowledges financial support from the Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation (3.3-ITA/1141759STP).

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This article is a contribution to the special issue “Green planet—400 million years of terrestrial floras. Papers in honour of JHA van Konijnenburg-van Cittert”

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Kustatscher, E., Franz, M., Heunisch, C. et al. Floodplain habitats of braided river systems: depositional environment, flora and fauna of the Solling Formation (Buntsandstein, Lower Triassic) from Bremke and Fürstenberg (Germany). Palaeobio Palaeoenv 94, 237–270 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12549-014-0161-0

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Keywords

  • Olenekian
  • Crevasse splay
  • levee
  • Pleuromeia
  • Tongchuanophyllum
  • Voltzia