New approach for the study of paleofloras using geographical information systems applied to Glossopteris Flora

This paper introduces a methodology which makes possible the visualization of the spatial distribution of plant fossils and applies it to the occurrences of the Gondwana Floristic Province present on the eastern border of the Brazilian portion of the Paraná Basin during the Neopaleozoic. This province was chosen due to the existence of a large number of publications referring to their occurrence, so that a meta-analysis of their distribution could be based on ample information. The first step was the construction of a composite database including geographical location, geology, and the botanical systematics of each relevant fossil. The geographical locations were then georeferenced for translation into various maps showing various aspects of the distribution of the fossils. The spatial distribution of the fossil-housing outcrops shows that these are distributed along the area of deposition studied. Although some genera persisted for long periods of time, others lasted for only short intervals. As time passed, the fossil composition underwent a gradual change from the Late Carboniferous (Itararé Group) to the Late Permian (Rio do Rasto Formation), with the number of genera represented decreasing from 45 in the Itararé Group to 11 in the Rio do Rasto Formation.