Catastrophic events tend to leave a distinctive mark: organisms that first colonize deserted ecospace tend to speciate rapidly, to be rather small, and to adopt generalist lifestyles (rather than developing a highly specialized behavior such as exclusively meat-eating or herbivorous behaviors). Such organisms are termed disaster biotas and are known in vertebrate, invertebrate, and plant communities.

At the K/T boundary, recall that, in the plant realm, the initial colonizing flora was a short-lived growth of ferns. These have been interpreted as a disaster flora developing in a disrupted and unstable landscape.

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