Published online by Cambridge University Press: 21 July 2017
Flowering plants are a classic example of a group arising late in Earth history and yet achieving very high diversity, abundance, and ecological and morphological variety in a great array of environments and climatic conditions on all continents. Thus, the success of flowering plants raises basic questions about how new lineages become inserted into existing terrestrial ecosystems. To what degree did flowering plants replace older lineages competitively, and to what extent did their expansion depend on large-scale environmental disruption or extinction of older groups? Is the higher taxonomic diversity of flowering plants a consequence of higher rates of speciation, lower rates of extinction, or both? Have flowering plants expanded the total area and range of habitats occupied by terrestrial vegetation? What were the effects of the diversification and spread of flowering plants on the structure of habitats and the types of resources available to terrestrial heterotrophs?