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      Ancient orogenic and monsoon-driven assembly of the world’s richest temperate alpine flora

      1 , 2 , 3 , 1 , 4 , 5 , 1 , 4

      Science

      American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

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          Abstract

          Understanding how alpine biotas formed in response to historical environmental change may improve our ability to predict and mitigate the threats to alpine species posed by global warming. In the world’s richest temperate alpine flora, that of the Tibet-Himalaya-Hengduan region, phylogenetic reconstructions of biome and geographic range evolution show that extant lineages emerged by the early Oligocene and diversified first in the Hengduan Mountains. By the early to middle Miocene, accelerated diversification and colonization of adjacent regions were likely driven jointly by mountain building and intensification of the Asian monsoon. The alpine flora of the Hengduan Mountains has continuously existed far longer than any other alpine flora on Earth and illustrates how modern biotas have been shaped by past geological and climatic events.

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          Most cited references 116

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          Constant elevation of southern Tibet over the past 15 million years.

          The uplift of the Tibetan plateau, an area that is 2,000 km wide, to an altitude of about 5,000 m has been shown to modify global climate and to influence monsoon intensity. Mechanical and thermal models for homogeneous thickening of the lithosphere make specific predictions about uplift rates of the Tibetan plateau, but the precise history of the uplift of the plateau has yet to be confirmed by observations. Here we present well-preserved fossil leaf assemblages from the Namling basin, southern Tibet, dated to approximately 15 Myr ago, which allow us to reconstruct the temperatures within the basin at that time. Using a numerical general circulation model to estimate moist static energy at the location of the fossil leaves, we reconstruct the elevation of the Namling basin 15 Myr ago to be 4,689 +/- 895 m or 4,638 +/- 847 m, depending on the reference data used. This is comparable to the present-day altitude of 4,600 m. We conclude that the elevation of the southern Tibetan plateau probably has remained unchanged for the past 15 Myr.
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            Palaeo-altimetry of the late Eocene to Miocene Lunpola basin, central Tibet.

            The elevation history of the Tibetan plateau provides direct insight into the tectonic processes associated with continent-continent collisions. Here we present oxygen-isotope-based estimates of the palaeo-altimetry of late Eocene and younger deposits of the Lunpola basin in the centre of the plateau, which indicate that the surface of Tibet has been at an elevation of more than 4 kilometres for at least the past 35 million years. We conclude that crustal, but not mantle, thickening models, combined with plate-kinematic solutions of India-Asia convergence, are compatible with palaeo-elevation estimates across the Tibetan plateau.
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              Effect of orogeny, plate motion and land–sea distribution on Eurasian climate change over the past 30 million years

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Science
                Science
                American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
                0036-8075
                1095-9203
                July 30 2020
                July 31 2020
                July 30 2020
                July 31 2020
                : 369
                : 6503
                : 578-581
                Affiliations
                [1 ]CAS Key Laboratory of Tropical Forest Ecology, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Mengla, Yunnan 666303, China.
                [2 ]College of Life Sciences, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China.
                [3 ]Negaunee Integrative Research Center, Field Museum, Chicago, IL 60605, USA.
                [4 ]Center of Plant Ecology, Core Botanical Gardens, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Mengla, Yunnan 666303, China.
                [5 ]School of Environment, Earth, and Ecosystem Sciences, The Open University, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, UK.
                Article
                10.1126/science.abb4484
                © 2020

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