The world’s first forests appeared during the Devonian Period between 419 and 359 million years ago. The roots of these trees created some of the earliest soils and released nutrients such as phosphorus which was carried by creeks, streams and rivers to the ocean. This phosphorus runoff helped trigger extinction events in the Devonian oceans. We are studying how the greening on land affected marine life.

Devonian landscape, 3d render, Adobe Stock|#18168353


Smart, M.S., Filippelli, G., Gilhooly, W.P. et al. The expansion of land plants during the Late Devonian contributed to the marine mass extinction. Commun Earth Environ 4, 449 (2023).

Matthew S. Smart, Gabriel Filippelli, William P. Gilhooly, John E.A. Marshall, Jessica H. Whiteside; Enhanced terrestrial nutrient release during the Devonian emergence and expansion of forests: Evidence from lacustrine phosphorus and geochemical records. GSA Bulletin 2022; 135 (7-8): 1879–1898. doi: