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The Coexistence Approach—Theoretical background and practical considerations of using plant fossils for climate quantification
- Utescher, T., Bruch, A.A., Erdei, B., François, L., Ivanov, D., Jacques, F.M.B., Kern, A.K., Liu, Y.-S.(C.), Mosbrugger, V., Spicer, R.A.
- Palaeogeography, palaeoclimatology, palaeoecology 2014 v.410 pp. 58-73
- botany, climate, climate models, computers, databases, fossils, guidelines, paleoclimatology, paleoecology
- The Coexistence Approach was established by Mosbrugger and Utescher (1997) as a plant-based method to reconstruct palaeoclimate by considering recent climatic distribution ranges of the nearest living relatives of each fossil taxon. During its existence for over more than 15years, its basics have been tested and reviewed in comparison with other terrestrial and marine climate reconstruction techniques and climate modelling data. However, some controversies remain about its underlying data or its applicability in general.In view of these controversies this paper discusses the power and limitations of the Coexistence Approach by summarising past results and new developments. We give insights into the details and problems of each step of the application from the assignment of the fossil plant to the most suitable nearest living relative, the crucial consideration of the usefulness of specific taxa towards their climatic values and the correct interpretation of the software-based suggested palaeoclimatic intervals. Furthermore, we reflect on the fundamental data integrated in the Coexistence Approach by explaining different concepts and usages of plant distribution information and the advantages and disadvantages of modern climatic maps. Additionally, we elaborate on the importance of continually updating the information incorporated in the database due to new findings in e.g., (palaeo-)botany, meteorology and computer technology.Finally, for a transparent and appropriate use, we give certain guidelines for future applications and emphasize to users how to carefully consider and discuss their results. We show the Coexistence Approach to be an adaptive method capable of yielding palaeoclimatic and palaeoenvironmental information through time and space.