Understanding the link between the uplift of the Tibetan Plateau and species diversity

May 12, 2014

A team of Austrian, Swiss and German researchers of the Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F), the Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), from the University of Leipzig and the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology has summarized the current state of knowledge on the diversification of Tibetan plants and animals. The study focuses in particular on how the geological processes that led to the rise of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau and Himalayas affected diversification and speciation directly, and indirectly, e.g. by changing climatic conditions. The paper was recently published in Biological Reviews.

"We believe this paper may become a benchmark for geo-biological studies worldwide. It links the geological, climatic and evolutionary history of one of the most fascinating and biodiverse regions of the world, and builds up a promising framework for more hypothesis-driven and synthetic research", says Prof. Alexandra Muellner-Riehl, from the Department of Molecular Evolution and Systematics of Plants in Leipzig. She heads the DFG Research Cluster and is also member of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig.

Muellner-Riehl and her collaborators found that the link between diversity, speciation and the was still poorly understood. They identified two main reasons for this: different authors tend to use a different geological framework in their studies, and they apply different analytical approaches and data that are poorly comparable.

The authors show three ways how our understanding of the link between uplift processes of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau and the Himalayas and can be improved: 1) They provide a state-of-the-art scenario how the uplift occurred and how this influenced regional climates over the last 40 million years; this will allow future researchers to formulate clear and comparable hypotheses. 2) They summarize recent analytical developments that allow scientists to make the link between geology and diversification more quantitative and less ad hoc. 3) They propose using meta-analyses of many comparable data sets to help researchers gain a broader understanding of species diversity in the region.

"It is very likely that the uplift of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau had different impacts on the evolution of different taxa", lead author Dr. Adrien Favre, Department of Molecular Evolution and Systematics of Plants, University of Leipzig, Germany, points out. "We wanted to provide details on the criteria that individual data sets should meet to guide future research", adds co-author Dr. Steffen Pauls, Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F).

Explore further: Geologists prove early Tibetan Plateau was larger than previously thought

More information: The paper, "The role of the uplift of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau for the evolution of Tibetan biotas," is available online: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/brv.12107/full

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Tropics are main source of global mammal diversity

Jan 28, 2014

Ever since the nineteenth century scientists have recognised that some regions contain more species than others, and that the tropics are richer in biodiversity than temperate regions. But why are there more species in the ...

More new species in geologically dynamic region

Feb 28, 2013

Mountain formation stimulates increased biodiversity. This is what Carina Hoorn of the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and colleagues from the Senckenberg (Germany) and Gothenburg Botanical Garden (Sweden) propose in a Correspondence to the ...

Recommended for you

Salish Sea seagull populations halved since 1980s

Feb 27, 2015

The number of seagulls in the Strait of Georgia is down by 50 per cent from the 1980s and University of British Columbia researchers say the decline reflects changes in the availability of food.

Banksias differ on resilience to climate change

Feb 27, 2015

Research into the germination requirements of four Banksia species (Proteaceae) endemic to the South West Australian Floristic Region (SWAFR) has found certain species may be more vulnerable to climate change ...

China bans ivory carving imports for one year

Feb 27, 2015

Beijing has imposed a one-year ban on the import of ivory carvings, amid international criticism that rapidly-growing Chinese demand could push wild African elephants to extinction within a generation.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.