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Suzette Flantua in Nature Geoscience

HOPE post-doctoral fellow Suzette Flantua is one of five main authors of a recent paper published in Nature Geoscience

An illustration exemplifying four phases of mountain building

In the paper – Geological and climatic influences on mountain biodiversity – 15 scientists Sweden, USA, Netherland, Norway, Colombia, Germany, Denmark, UK, and Switzerland analyse how the diversity of amphibians, birds, and mammals relates to relief, soil, and climate in mountains. Centres of richness correlate with areas of high temperature, annual relief, and topographic relief. They also detect, for the first time, links between mountain-building processes, landscape features, and biodiversity such as erosion rates and soil heterogeneity. Mountain building involving uplift and erosion is continuously reshaping mountain landscapes, thereby creating habitat heterogeneity at a wide range of temporal and spatial scales. Although mountains only comprise 3% of the Earth’s surface, they support a much higher percentage of Earth’s biodiversity (e.g. 6–8% of Earth’s vascular plants). Suzette and colleagues used distribution data of 6086 amphibian species, 5148 non-marine mammal species, and 9650 non-pelagic bird species in their unique global analysis of mountain biodiversity. Besides considering spatial patterns today they also consider the links between mountain evolution and biodiversity.

Antonelli et al. (2018) Geological and climatic influences on mountain biodiversity. Nature Geoscience 11: 718–725. doi: 10.1038/s41561-018-0236-z