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: Molecular sequencing technology and the origins of biodiversity

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

Related Stories

More new species in geologically dynamic region

February 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 ...

Tropics are main source of global mammal diversity

January 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 ...

Recommended for you

New gene map reveals cancer's Achilles heel

November 25, 2015

Scientists have mapped out the genes that keep our cells alive, creating a long-awaited foothold for understanding how our genome works and which genes are crucial in disease like cancer.

Study suggests fish can experience 'emotional fever'

November 25, 2015

(Phys.org)—A small team of researchers from the U.K. and Spain has found via lab study that at least one type of fish is capable of experiencing 'emotional fever,' which suggests it may qualify as a sentient being. In their ...

How cells in the developing ear 'practice' hearing

November 25, 2015

Before the fluid of the middle ear drains and sound waves penetrate for the first time, the inner ear cells of newborn rodents practice for their big debut. Researchers at Johns Hopkins report they have figured out the molecular ...

How cells 'climb' to build fruit fly tracheas

November 25, 2015

Fruit fly windpipes are much more like human blood vessels than the entryway to human lungs. To create that intricate network, fly embryonic cells must sprout "fingers" and crawl into place. Now researchers at The Johns Hopkins ...


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.