Evolution peaks on tropical mountain
Mount Kinabalu in Malaysian Borneo has an exceptionally high biodiversity. During an expedition, organised by Naturalis Biodiversity Center and Sabah Parks, experts, including Katja Peijnenburg (UvA-IBED) discovered that most of the unique species that occur in the area have evolved later than the age of the mountain itself, and that some have evolved from immigrant ancestors, whereas others evolved from local ancestors. These findings were published on 12-8-2015 in Nature.
On tropical mountains, exceptional numbers of species occur. This is because temperature and environment change rapidly as elevation increases. Therefore the species living on the summit of a mountain often only occur there. These are sometimes referred to as endemic species. Mount Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo is an example of that. The 4,095 meter high mountain is on the world Heritage list of UNESCO and is home to hundreds of unique species.
Together with 45 other experts, Naturalis researchers Vincent Merckx and Menno Schilthuizen and IBED researcher Katja Peijnenburg collected dozens of such endemic species in 2012 during a Dutch-Malaysian scientific expedition on Mount Kinabalu.