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Data from: Origins of global mountain plant biodiversity: testing the “mountain-geobiodiversity hypothesis”

Cite this dataset

Muellner-Riehl, Alexandra et al. (2019). Data from: Origins of global mountain plant biodiversity: testing the “mountain-geobiodiversity hypothesis” [Dataset]. Dryad.


Aim Our objective is to analyse global-scale patterns of mountain biodiversity (vascular plants) and the driving forces leading to the observed patterns. More specifically, we test the “mountain geobiodiversity hypothesis” (MGH) which is based on the assumption that it is not mountain-uplift alone which drives the evolution of mountain biodiversity, but rather the combination of geodiversity evolution and Neogene and Pleistocene climate changes. Hence, we address the following questions: 1) Do areas of high geodiversity and high biodiversity in mountains overlap, i.e., can mountain geodiversity predict mountain biodiversity? 2) What is the role of Pleistocene climate change in shaping mountain biodiversity? 3) Did diversification rate shifts occur predominantly with the onset of more pronounced climate fluctuations in the late Neogene and Pleistocene fostering a “species pump” effect, as predicted by the MGH? Location Global. Methods We used generalized linear models to test to what extent vascular plant species diversity in mountains can be explained by net primary productivity, geodiversity and Pleistocene climate fluctuations (i.e., changes in temperature between the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) and today). In addition, we compiled dates of diversification rate shifts from mountain systems and investigated whether these shifts occurred predominantly before or after the global major climatic fluctuations of the late Neogene and Pleistocene. Results Both net primary productivity and elevation range show a positive relationship, whereas Pleistocene climatic fluctuations show a negative impact on plant species diversity. The availability of climatic niche space during the LGM differs markedly among mountain systems. Shifts to higher diversification rates or starts of radiations showed the highest concentration from the late Miocene towards the Pleistocene, supporting the MGH. The most commonly inferred drivers of diversification were key innovations, geological processes (uplift), and climate. Main conclusions Our analyses point towards an important role of historical factors, i.e., Pleistocene climatic changes, on mountain plant species richness. Mountain systems characterised by small elevational ranges and strong modifications of temperature profiles appear to harbour fewer radiations. In contrast, mountain systems with the largest elevational ranges and stronger overlap between today´s and LGM temperature profiles are also those where most plant radiations were identified.

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