The repeated evolution of gliding in diverse Asian vertebrate lineages is hypothesized to have been triggered by the dominance of tall dipterocarp trees in the tropical forests of Southeast Asia. These dipterocarp forests have acted as both centres of diversification and climatic refugia for gliding vertebrates, and support most of their extant diversity. We predict similarities in the diversification patterns of dipterocarp trees and gliding vertebrates, and specifically test whether episodic diversification events such as rate shifts and/or mass extinctions were temporally congruent in these groups. We analysed diversification patterns in reconstructed timetrees of Asian dipterocarps, the most speciose gliding vertebrates from different classes (Draco lizards, gliding frogs and Pteromyini squirrels) and compared them with similar-sized clades of non-gliding relatives (Diploderma lizards, Philautus frogs and Callosciurinae squirrels) from Southeast Asia. We found significant declines in net-diversification rates of dipterocarps and the gliding vertebrates during the Pliocene-Pleistocene, but not in the non-gliding groups. We conclude that the homogeneity and temporal coincidence of these rate declines point to a viable ecological correlation between dipterocarps and the gliding vertebrates. Further, we suggest that while the diversification decay in dipterocarps was precipitated by post-Miocene aridification of Asia, the crises in the gliding vertebrates were induced by both events concomitantly.
|Number of pages||1|
|Journal||Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences|
|State||Published - 30 Aug 2023|
- gliding vertebrates