Escarpment evolution drives the diversification of the Madagascar flora

Although much of the endemic biodiversity of Madagascar can be attributed to its isolation as an island in the Indian Ocean, the high rates of speciation throughout its geologic history suggest an influence of local-scale landscape dynamics. The topographic evolution of Madagascar is dominated by the formation of high-relief continental rift escarpment and we argue that the erosion and landward retreat of this topography creates habitat heterogeneity that has served as a speciation pump for the island. The highest plant richness is found along the escarpment and is characterized by steady diversification rates over the last 45 Ma. Modeled landscape evolution by escarpment retreat demonstrates opportunities for allopatric speciation by transient habitat fragmentation through multiple mechanisms, including catchment expansion, isolation of highland remnants and formation of topographic and river barriers The segregation of floral phylogenetic turnover parallel to the escarpment is consistent with these mechanisms and indicates the importance of erosion-driven landscape dynamics on speciation.

Funding Information:

This work was supported by:
  • Chinese Scholarship Council (CSC) (Grant/Award: 201904910589)
  • WSL


Liu, Yi; Wang, Yanyan; Willett, Sean; Zimmermann, Niklaus E.; Pellissier, Loic (2023). Escarpment evolution drives the diversification of the Madagascar flora. EnviDat. doi:10.16904/envidat.387.

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Field Values
DOI 10.16904/envidat.387
Publication State Published
  • Email: yi.liufoo(at) ORCID: 0000-0002-0839-2518 Given Name: Yi Family Name: Liu Affiliation: WSL
  • Email: yanyan.wangfoo(at) ORCID: 0000-0002-0366-9485 Given Name: Yanyan Family Name: Wang Affiliation: ETH
  • Email: swillettfoo(at) ORCID: 0000-0002-8408-0567 Given Name: Sean Family Name: Willett Affiliation: ETH
  • Email: niklaus.zimmemannfoo(at) ORCID: 0000-0003-3099-9604 Given Name: Niklaus E. Family Name: Zimmermann Affiliation: Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL
  • Email: loic.pellissierfoo(at) ORCID: 0000-0002-2289-8259 Given Name: Loic Family Name: Pellissier Affiliation: Landscape Ecology, Institute of Terrestrial Ecosystems, ETH Zürich, 8049 Zürich, Switzerland
Contact Person Given Name: Yi Family Name: Liu Email: yi.liufoo(at) Affiliation: WSL ORCID: 0000-0002-0839-2518
Publication Publisher: EnviDat Year: 2023
  • Type: Created Date: 2022-02-12 End Date: 2023-04-12
Version 1.0
Type dataset
General Type Dataset
Language English
Location Madagascar
Content License Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (CC-BY-SA)    [Open Data]
Last Updated March 21, 2024, 09:53 (UTC)
Created April 12, 2023, 13:27 (UTC)