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In this alternate Earth, there is a clear ecological distinction between trees depending on altitude. The lowlands are exclusive to broad-leaved deciduous trees while conifers can be found only on the cooler, drier highlands. The sole--and MAJOR--exception to this distinction is the Taiga, its close proximity to the Arctic Circle making the crucial materials for forest growth--climate, sunlight and soil--unsuitable for the broad-leaves to take root.

There was a different kind of tree that likely occupied the same niche that the angiosperms would later take--Ginkgophyta, the ginkgo. They used to be a diverse, successful group, but over the millions of years, their numbers got cut and got cut and got cut until, today, only Ginkgo biloba remains.

But does it have to be this way? From what we know, do ginkgoes share the same environmental requirements and advantages as the conifers? Or would a highland coniferous-ginkgous mixed forest be unfeasible?

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  • $\begingroup$ I feel like this question might be better answered if you asked on a more specific SE site (not sure if there's a plants biology type SE). This doesn't seem like Worldbuilding when I read it, but I don't know enough about the topic so I'mma leave this one to the rest of the community. $\endgroup$ – Aify Jun 12 '16 at 23:47
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    $\begingroup$ I also feel that the question is a bit unclear. I don't think that a highland gingko forest would be implausible, but I'm not sure how to answer in the scope of your world. Also, why do you put such significance on the taiga? Is that important to the question? $\endgroup$ – Martine Votvik Jun 16 '16 at 22:40
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I think you have kind of answered your own question - the ginkos were far more diverse and widespread in Earth's past, so millions of years ago they could have happily have created highland ginko forests all over the place.

You just need to think of a reason why the ginkos of your alternate Earth didn't die out. Some trick to help them compete with angiosperms or conifers. Perhaps they dumped the male tree/female tree method of reproduction and became capable of self fertilisation. Perhaps they entered a symbiosis with some animal species which spreads their seeds by eating them and carrying the seeds unharmed in their gut. (The animal would have to really like the appalling puke smell of ginko 'fruit'!) Perhaps they have fire-resistance or fire-regeneration tactics in dry areas where summer wildfires are common? (Google 'fire ecology').

BTW many conifers love wet environments. Like the Scottish Highlands or the Pacific Northwest of USA/Canada.

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  • $\begingroup$ The "BTW" part doesn't seem necessary. $\endgroup$ – JohnWDailey Jun 17 '16 at 16:09

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