• Biogeography;
  • diversification rate;
  • Licuala;
  • Livistona;
  • Livistoninae;
  • Saribus

Broad-scale patterns of species diversity have received much attention in the literature, yet the mechanisms behind their formation may not explain species richness disparities across small spatial scales. Few taxa display high species diversity on either side of Wallace's Line and our understanding of the processes causing this biogeographical pattern remains limited, particularly in plant lineages. To understand the evolution of this biogeographical pattern, a time-calibrated molecular phylogeny of Livistoninae palms (Arecaceae) was used to infer the colonization history of the Sahul tectonic plate region and to test for disparities in diversification rates across taxa and across each side of Wallace's Line. Our analyses allowed us to examine how timing, migration history, and shifts in diversification rates have contributed to shape the biogeographical pattern observed in Livistoninae. We inferred that each of the three genera found in Sahul crossed Wallace's Line only once and relatively recently. In addition, at least two of the three dispersing genera underwent an elevation in their diversification rate leading to high species richness on each side of Wallacea. The correspondence of our results with Southeast Asian geologic and climatic history show how palms emerge as excellent models for understanding the historical formation of fine-scale biogeographic patterns in a phylogenetic framework.