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Amphibian Speciation Rates Support a General Role of Mountains as Biodiversity Pumps


García-Rodríguez, Adrián
Martínez, Pablo
Oliveira, Brunno
Velasco, Julián
Pyron, Alexander
Costa, Gabriel


Continental mountain areas cover <15% of global land surface, yet these regions concentrate >80% of global terrestrial diversity. One prominent hypothesis to explain this pattern proposes that high mountain diversities could be explained by higher diversification rates in regions of high topographic complexity (HTC). While high speciation in mountains has been detected for particular clades and regions, the global extent to which lineages experience faster speciation in mountains remains unknown. Here we addressed this issue using amphibians as a model system (>7,000 species), and we found that families showing high speciation rates contain a high proportion of species distributed in mountains. Moreover, we found that lineages inhabiting areas of HTC speciate faster than lineages occupying areas that are topographically less complex. When comparing across regions, we identified the same pattern in five biogeographical realms where higher speciation rates are associated with higher levels of complex topography. Low-magnitude differences in speciation rates between some low and high complex topographies suggest that high mountain diversity is also affected by low extinction and/or high colonization rates. Nevertheless, our results bolster the importance of mountains as engines of speciation at different geographical scales and highlight their importance for the conservation of global biodiversity.