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Why is Earth so biologically diverse? Mountains hold the answer

Source: sciencedaily.com

What determines global patterns of biodiversity has been a puzzle for scientists since the days of von Humboldt, Darwin, and Wallace. Yet, despite two centuries of research, this question remains unanswered. The global pattern of mountain biodiversity, and the extraordinarily high richness in tropical mountains in particular, is documented in two companion Science review papers this week. The papers focus on the fact that the high level of biodiversity found on mountains is far beyond what would be expected from prevailing hypotheses.

“The challenge is that, although it is evident that much of the global variation in biodiversity is so clearly driven by the extraordinary richness of tropical mountain regions, it is this very richness that current biodiversity models, based on contemporary climate, cannot explain: mountains are simply too rich in species, and we are falling short of explaining global hotspots of biodiversity,” says Professor Carsten Rahbek, lead author of both review papers published in Science.

To confront the question of why mountains are so biologically diverse, scientists at the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate (CMEC) at the GLOBE Institute of the University of Copenhagen work to synthesise understanding and data from the disparate fields of macroecology, evolutionary biology, earth sciences, and geology. The CMEC scientists are joined by individual collaborators from Oxford University, Kew Gardens, and University of Connecticut. MORE

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