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Diversification in a biodiversity hotspot: Examples from the Western Ghats's herpetofauna Open Access

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Diversification in the Western Ghats - a biodiversity hotspot located in southern India was investigated. Three major patterns were used as exemplars to untangle the complex history of the region. These patterns include species-poor genera, species-rich genera and genera distributed in the Western Ghats and neighboring drier peninsular India. Results confirmed the complex history of the Western Ghats and revealed new patterns hitherto not documented. Both species-poor and species-rich genera were represented by old pre-Cenzoic to more recent Neogene clades. Species-rich genera tend to be old and have accumulated species steadily through time rather than diversifying in very recent times (e.g., Pleistocene). Genera distributed in the Western Ghats and drier peninsular India have complex relationships and include several old and new instances of probably wet to dry adaptation of species. A scenario of diversification in the Western Ghats is proposed for future studies.

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