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On GaiaA Critical Investigation of the Relationship between Life and Earth$
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Toby Tyrrell

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691121581

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691121581.001.0001

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Evolutionary Innovations and Environmental Change

Evolutionary Innovations and Environmental Change

(p.130) Chapter 7 Evolutionary Innovations and Environmental Change
On Gaia

Toby Tyrrell

Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on internally generated changes due to evolutionary inventions of new forms life. These evolutionary inventions include the evolution of oxygen-yielding photosynthesis and the colonization of land by the first forests. Oxygen-dependent photosynthesis and respiration evolved to take advantage of the appearance of oxygen in the biosphere, while anaerobes crashed from preeminence to relative obscurity. Meanwhile, land plants evolved to adapt to the low carbon dioxide and low temperatures that earlier generations had produced, and enormous insects thrived temporarily to take advantage of the transiently abundant oxygen, only to disappear again when oxygen levels subsequently subsided. Eventually, new types of fungi evolved to make use of the new food source. Ultimately, these internally generated events produced some changes that generally improved the global environment for life, but also some that tended to spoil it.

Keywords:   evolutionary inventions, oxygen-yielding photosynthesis, first forests, oxygen-dependent photosynthesis, anaerobes, land plants, global environment

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