Formation of the Himalaya resulted from collision of the Indian and the Eurasian plates around the early Cenozoic (55–45 million years ago). Various geo-physical changes, namely disappearance of Tethys Sea, formation of land bridges and evolution of monsoon system followed the collision. These changes are cumulatively responsible for high plant endemism in the Himalaya. Here, we show that the high plant endemism in the Himalaya is likely linked to changes in geology, geomorphology and climate during the past millions of years. We used phylogenetic supertrees and ancestral area reconstructions to investigate the rates and biogeographic source areas of the Himalayan endemic plant species assembly through different geological time periods. Our results show that Eastern Himalaya (EH) harbors twice the number of plant endemics than the Western Himalaya (WH). The time-calibrated phylogenies revealed that maximum endemic diversifications of plant families in both the EH and WH occurred during 35–20 million years ago (Oligocene–Miocene), the period that coincided with evolution of the South West Asian monsoon. Further, the majority of plant endemics in the EH have ancestral lineages from South East Asian and Sino-Japanese regions. The WH endemic taxa have ancestor lineages from Southeast Chinese, Sino-Japanese, Irano–Turanian, and Central Asiatic regions. The high endemic plant diversity in the Himalaya is a result of immigration of ancestral lineages from the neighboring regions followed by their local radiations and diversifications after the formation and intensification of monsoon system.
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KM acknowledges the support of DST INSPIRE Research Fellowship, Government of India [grant number: DST/INSPIRE Fellowship/2012/432]. MKP acknowledges the support of DU-DST PURSE grant by University of Delhi. The funders had no role in data collection, data analysis, interpretation of data and in the writing of the manuscript.
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Manish, K., Pandit, M.K. & Sen, S. Inferring the factors for origin and diversifications of endemic Himalayan flora using phylogenetic models. Model. Earth Syst. Environ. (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40808-021-01251-z
- Ancestral area reconstruction