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BMC Evol Biol. 2015 Feb 4;15:11. doi: 10.1186/s12862-015-0289-1.

Higher speciation and lower extinction rates influence mammal diversity gradients in Asia.

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National Centre for Biological Sciences, TIFR, Bellary Road, Bangalore - 65, India.
National Centre for Biological Sciences, TIFR, Bellary Road, Bangalore - 65, India.



Little is known about the patterns and correlates of mammal diversity gradients in Asia. In this study, we examine patterns of species distributions and phylogenetic diversity in Asia and investigate if the observed diversity patterns are associated with differences in diversification rates between the tropical and non-tropical regions. We used species distribution maps and phylogenetic trees to generate species and phylogenetic diversity measures for 1° × 1° cells across mainland Asia. We constructed lineage-through-time plots and estimated diversification shift-times to examine the temporal patterns of diversifications across orders. Finally, we tested if the observed gradients in Asia could be associated with geographical differences in diversification rates across the tropical and non-tropical biomes. We estimated speciation, extinction and dispersal rates across these two regions for mammals, both globally and for Asian mammals.


Our results demonstrate strong latitudinal and longitudinal gradients of species and phylogenetic diversity with Southeast Asia and the Himalayas showing highest diversity. Importantly, our results demonstrate that differences in diversification (speciation, extinction and dispersal) rates between the tropical and the non-tropical biomes influence the observed diversity gradients globally and in Asia. For the first time, we demonstrate that Asian tropics act as both cradles and museums of mammalian diversity.


Temporal and spatial variation in diversification rates across different lineages of mammals is an important correlate of species diversity gradients observed in Asia.

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