Andean orogeny and the diversification of lowland neotropical rain forest trees: A case study in Sapotaceae

Congratulations to Julieth and all our co-workers on getting this paper published. The result of much collaboration and about 15 years of field collections!

Much has been made of the affect of the Andean uplift on diversification of montane taxa in Northwestern South America. However, perhaps somewhat less attention has been paid to the affect of these geological events on lowland restricted taxa. In this paper we assess the impact of uplift on diversification in Sapotaceae using what we consider to be the most densely sampled phylogeny of lowland plants in the region. We did not detect increased diversification rates coincident with either Andean uplift, Pleistocene climatic changes or the closure of the Isthmus of Panama. The Andes appear to have been somewhat porous in that they did not completely prevent dispersal occurring across the range. In addition, we find many examples of paraphyletic species, providing insights into speciation processes in the lowland Neotropics.

Thanks to all who contributed to the project! The paper was published in a special issue of Global and Planetary Change with the theme of exploring the impact of Andean uplift on life, evolution & landscape modification: from Amazonia to Patagonia.

Sapotaceae in the lowland rain forest of Putumayo, Colombia. Photo by: Julieth Serrano.

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