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Toussaint, Emmanuel F. A.; Hall, Robert; Monaghan, Michael T.; Sagata, Katayo; Ibalim, Sentiko; Shaverdo, Helena V.; Vogler, Alfried P.; Pons, Joan and Balke, Michael (2014): The towering orogeny of New Guinea as a trigger for arthropod megadiversity. In: Nature Communications, Vol. 5, 4001 [PDF, 1MB]

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Early studies on Melanesian mountain systems provided insights for fundamental evolutionary and ecological concepts. These island-like systems are thought to provide opportunities in the form of newly formed, competition-free niches. Here we show that a hyperdiverse radiation of freshwater arthropods originated in the emerging central New Guinea orogen, out of Australia, about 10 million years ago. Further diversification was mainly allopatric, with repeated more recent colonization of lowlands as they emerged in the form of colliding oceanic island arcs, continental fragments and the Papuan Peninsula, as well as recolonization of the central orogen. We unveil a constant and ongoing process of lineage accumulation while the carrying capacity of the island is about to be reached, suggesting that lineage diversification speed now exceeds that of landmass/new ecological opportunity formation. Therefore, the central orogeny of New Guinea acts as a motor of diversification for the entire region.

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