Talk abstract: This presentation will begin with a brief review of the ecological definitions of forest, woodland, and grass-dominated environments such as savanna, wooded savanna, and prairie. With these definitions in mind, there will be a discussion of the challenges of identifying them in the past based upon plant fossil remains, despite their associated taphonomic filters. But, do not let taphonomy discourage you! The presentation will then focus on examples of successful paleo-vegetation reconstructions that use proxies including plant macro- and microfossils in combination with carbon isotopic data derived directly from organic fossils or indirectly from tooth enamel apatite and paleosol carbonates. In some cases, lucky circumstances of preservation allow a view of the ancient vegetation in its ecological context via large collections of specimens (e.g., hundreds or thousands of leaves) permitting quantitative estimates of a variety of richness and diversity measures. In these cases, and together with isotopic analyses and the biochemistry of ancient organic matter (which produce biomarkers), and assessment of insect damage on fossil leaves, we can get quite close to a fairly nuanced understanding of the ancient environment.