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Why are there so many plant species in the Neotropics?

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The Neotropical region (tropical America) is the most species rich region on Earth. Several causes have been proposed to explain this extraordinary biodiversity, which may be very roughly classified into two major categories: 'biotic' (e.g.soil adaptations; biotic interactions with pollinators, dispersers and herbivores; niche conservatism; dispersal ability) and 'abiotic' (e.g.time; rainfall, temperature and area; mountain uplift; hydrological changes). In this paper we review the evidence for each of these postulated causes of diversification and provide general directions towards further testing. We highlight the need of more well-sampled and dated phylogenies and urge increased inter-disciplinary collaboration.
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Keywords: BIOGEOGRAPHY; BOTANY; EVOLUTION; NEOTROPICAL BIOMES; TROPICAL AMERICA

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Gothenburg Botanical Garden, Carl Skottsbergs gata 22A, 413 19 Göteborg, Sweden 2: Real Jardín Botánico, CSIC, Plaza de Murillo 2, 28014 Madrid, Spain

Publication date: 2011-04-01

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