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Climate and history explain the species richness peak at mid-elevation for Schizothorax fishes (Cypriniformes: Cyprinidae) distributed in the Tibetan Plateau and its adjacent regions

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We studied elevational species richness patterns of Schizothorax fishes and identified the roles of ecological and evolutionary factors in shaping the patterns of elevational diversity. Location 

The Tibetan Plateau and its adjacent regions. Methods 

We assembled distribution and altitude data for all Schizothorax species using the literature. We merged ecological and evolutionary approaches to test the relationships between species richness and ecological factors (climate, area, the mid-domain effect) or evolutionary factors (diversification rates and time of colonization). Results 

We found that species richness of Schizothorax fishes peaked at mid-elevations. Rainfall, area, the mid-domain effect and diversification rate were weak predictors of the richness pattern. Temperature showed a nonlinear relationship with species richness. Temperature and time of colonization were the most important variables in explaining the elevational diversity pattern. Main conclusion 

Our findings indicate that the time-for-speciation effect and niche conservatism play important roles in variation of species richness.
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Keywords: Climate; Schizothorax; Tibetan; diversification rate; elevational gradients; freshwater fish; niche conservatism; phylogeny; speciation; species richness

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Biodiversity Science and Ecological Engineering, and Institute of Biodiversity Science, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, China, 2: Department of Ecology and Evolution, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-5245, USA, 3: Department of Human Genetics, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA

Publication date: 2009-03-01

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