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Ann Bot. 2013 Jul;112(1):151-60. doi: 10.1093/aob/mct106. Epub 2013 May 30.

The abrupt climate change at the Eocene-Oligocene boundary and the emergence of South-East Asia triggered the spread of sapindaceous lineages.

Author information

  • 1Jodrell Laboratory, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3DS, UK. s.buerki@kew.org

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND AIMS:

Paleoclimatic data indicate that an abrupt climate change occurred at the Eocene-Oligocene (E-O) boundary affecting the distribution of tropical forests on Earth. The same period has seen the emergence of South-East (SE) Asia, caused by the collision of the Eurasian and Australian plates. How the combination of these climatic and geomorphological factors affected the spatio-temporal history of angiosperms is little known. This topic is investigated by using the worldwide sapindaceous clade as a case study.

METHODS:

Analyses of divergence time inference, diversification and biogeography (constrained by paleogeography) are applied to a combined plastid and nuclear DNA sequence data set. Biogeographical and diversification analyses are performed over a set of trees to take phylogenetic and dating uncertainty into account. Results are analysed in the context of past climatic fluctuations.

KEY RESULTS:

An increase in the number of dispersal events at the E-O boundary is recorded, which intensified during the Miocene. This pattern is associated with a higher rate in the emergence of new genera. These results are discussed in light of the geomorphological importance of SE Asia, which acted as a tropical bridge allowing multiple contacts between areas and additional speciation across landmasses derived from Laurasia and Gondwana.

CONCLUSIONS:

This study demonstrates the importance of the combined effect of geomorphological (the emergence of most islands in SE Asia approx. 30 million years ago) and climatic (the dramatic E-O climate change that shifted the tropical belt and reduced sea levels) factors in shaping species distribution within the sapindaceous clade.

KEYWORDS:

Biogeography; Eocene–Oligocene boundary; Sapindaceae; South-East Asia; climate change; diversification

PMID:
23723259
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3690995
Free PMC Article

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