The role of the uplift of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau for the evolution of Tibetan biotas

Authors

  • Adrien Favre,

    1. Department of Molecular Evolution and Systematics of Plants, Institute of Biology, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany
    2. Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F) & Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
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  • Martin Päckert,

    1. Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F) & Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
    2. Senckenberg Natural History Collections, Museum für Tierkunde, Dresden, Germany
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  • Steffen U. Pauls,

    1. Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F) & Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
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  • Sonja C. Jähnig,

    1. Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F) & Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
    2. Department of Ecosystem Research, Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB), Berlin, Germany
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  • Dieter Uhl,

    1. Section of Palaeoclimate and Palaeoenvironmental Research, Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum Frankfurt, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
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  • Ingo Michalak,

    1. Department of Molecular Evolution and Systematics of Plants, Institute of Biology, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany
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  • Alexandra N. Muellner-Riehl

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Molecular Evolution and Systematics of Plants, Institute of Biology, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany
    2. Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F) & Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
    3. German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany
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ABSTRACT

Biodiversity is unevenly distributed on Earth and hotspots of biodiversity are often associated with areas that have undergone orogenic activity during recent geological history (i.e. tens of millions of years). Understanding the underlying processes that have driven the accumulation of species in some areas and not in others may help guide prioritization in conservation and may facilitate forecasts on ecosystem services under future climate conditions. Consequently, the study of the origin and evolution of biodiversity in mountain systems has motivated growing scientific interest. Despite an increasing number of studies, the origin and evolution of diversity hotspots associated with the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP) remains poorly understood. We review literature related to the diversification of organisms linked to the uplift of the QTP. To promote hypothesis-based research, we provide a geological and palaeoclimatic scenario for the region of the QTP and argue that further studies would benefit from providing a complete set of complementary analyses (molecular dating, biogeographic, and diversification rates analyses) to test for a link between organismic diversification and past geological and climatic changes in this region. In general, we found that the contribution of biological interchange between the QTP and other hotspots of biodiversity has not been sufficiently studied to date. Finally, we suggest that the biological consequences of the uplift of the QTP would be best understood using a meta-analysis approach, encompassing studies on a variety of organisms (plants and animals) from diverse habitats (forests, meadows, rivers), and thermal belts (montane, subalpine, alpine, nival). Since the species diversity in the QTP region is better documented for some organismic groups than for others, we suggest that baseline taxonomic work should be promoted.

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