Soils on exposed Sunda shelf shaped biogeographic patterns in the equatorial forests of Southeast Asia.
ABSTRACT: The marked biogeographic difference between western (Malay Peninsula and Sumatra) and eastern (Borneo) Sundaland is surprising given the long time that these areas have formed a single landmass. A dispersal barrier in the form of a dry savanna corridor during glacial maxima has been proposed to explain this disparity. However, the short duration of these dry savanna conditions make it an unlikely sole cause for the biogeographic pattern. An additional explanation might be related to the coarse sandy soils of central Sundaland. To test these two nonexclusive hypotheses, we performed a floristic cluster analysis based on 111 tree inventories from Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, and Borneo. We then identified the indicator genera for clusters that crossed the central Sundaland biogeographic boundary and those that did not cross and tested whether drought and coarse-soil tolerance of the indicator genera differed between them. We found 11 terminal floristic clusters, 10 occurring in Borneo, 5 in Sumatra, and 3 in Peninsular Malaysia. Indicator taxa of clusters that occurred across Sundaland had significantly higher coarse-soil tolerance than did those from clusters that occurred east or west of central Sundaland. For drought tolerance, no such pattern was detected. These results strongly suggest that exposed sandy sea-bed soils acted as a dispersal barrier in central Sundaland. However, we could not confirm the presence of a savanna corridor. This finding makes it clear that proposed biogeographic explanations for plant and animal distributions within Sundaland, including possible migration routes for early humans, need to be reevaluated.
Project description:A phylogeographic study of an economically important freshwater fish, the striped snakehead, Channa striata in Sundaland was carried out using data from mtDNA ND5 gene target to elucidate genetic patterning. Templates obtained from a total of 280 individuals representing 24 sampling sites revealed 27 putative haplotypes. Three distinct genetic lineages were apparent; 1)northwest Peninsular Malaysia, 2)southern Peninsular, east Peninsular, Sumatra and SW (western Sarawak) and 3) central west Peninsular and Malaysian Borneo (except SW). Genetic structuring between lineages showed a significant signature of natural geographical barriers that have been acting as effective dividers between these populations. However, genetic propinquity between the SW and southern Peninsular and east Peninsular Malaysia populations was taken as evidence of ancient river connectivity between these regions during the Pleistocene epoch. Alternatively, close genetic relationship between central west Peninsular Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo populations implied anthropogenic activities. Further, haplotype sharing between the east Peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra populations revealed extraordinary migration ability of C. striata (>500 km) through ancient connectivity. These results provide interesting insights into the historical and contemporary landscape arrangement in shaping genetic patterns of freshwater species in Sundaland.
Project description:Equatorial Southeast Asia is a key region for global climate change. Here, the Indo-Pacific Warm Pool (IPWP) is a critical driver of atmospheric convection that plays a dominant role in global atmospheric circulation. However, fluctuating sea-levels during the Pleistocene produced the most drastic land-sea area changes on Earth, with the now-drowned continent of Sundaland being exposed as a contiguous landmass for most of the past 2 million years. How vegetation responded to changes in rainfall that resulted from changing shelf exposure and glacial boundary conditions in Sundaland remains poorly understood. Here we use the stable carbon isotope composition (?13C) of bat guano and High Molecular Weight n-alkanes, from Saleh Cave in southern Borneo to demonstrate that open vegetation existed during much the past 40,000?yrs BP. This location is at the southern equatorial end of a hypothesized 'savanna corridor' and the results provide the strongest evidence yet for its existence. The corridor would have operated as a barrier to east-west dispersal of rainforest species, and a conduit for north-south dispersal of savanna species at times of lowered sea level, explaining many modern biogeographic patterns. The Saleh Cave record also exhibits a strong correspondence with insolation and sea surface temperatures of the IPWP, suggesting a strong sensitivity of vegetation to tropical climate change on glacial/interglacial timeframes.
Project description:SE Asia comprises a heterogeneous assemblage of fragments derived from Cathaysia (Eurasia) in the north and Gondwana in the south, separated by suture zones representing closed former ocean basins. The western part of the region comprises Sundaland, which was formed by Late Permian-Triassic amalgamation of continental and arc fragments now found in Indochina, the Thai Penisula, Peninsular Malaysia, and Sumatra. On Borneo, the Kuching Zone formed the eastern margin of Sundaland since the Triassic. To the SE of the Kuching Zone, the Gondwana-derived continental fragments of SW Borneo and East Kalimantan accreted in the Cretaceous. South China-derived fragments accreted to north of the Kuching Zone in the Miocene. Deciphering this complex geodynamic history of SE Asia requires restoration of its deformation history, but quantitative constraints are often sparse. Paleomagnetism may provide such constraints. Previous paleomagnetic studies demonstrated that Sundaland and fragments in Borneo underwent vertical axis rotations since the Cretaceous. We provide new paleomagnetic data from Eocene-Miocene sedimentary rocks in the Kutai Basin, east Borneo, and critically reevaluate the published database, omitting sites that do not pass widely used, up-to-date reliability criteria. We use the resulting database to develop an updated kinematic restoration. We test the regional or local nature of paleomagnetic rotations against fits between the restored orientation of the Sunda Trench and seismic tomography images of the associated slabs. Paleomagnetic data and mantle tomography of the Sunda slab indicate that Sundaland did not experience significant vertical axis rotations since the Late Jurassic. Paleomagnetic data show that Borneo underwent a ~35° counterclockwise rotation constrained to the Late Eocene and an additional ~10° counterclockwise rotation since the Early Miocene. How this rotation was accommodated relative to Sundaland is enigmatic but likely involved distributed extension in the West Java Sea between Borneo and Sumatra. This Late Eocene-Early Oligocene rotation is contemporaneous with and may have been driven by a marked change in motion of Australia relative to Eurasia, from eastward to northward, which also has led to the initiation of subduction along the eastern Sunda trench and the proto-South China Sea to the south and north of Borneo, respectively.
Project description:Dispersal of soil-dwelling organisms via the repeatedly exposed Sunda shelf through much of the Pleistocene in Southeast Asia has not been studied extensively, especially for invertebrates. Here we investigated the phylogeography of an endemic termite species, Macrotermes gilvus (Hagen), to elucidate the spatiotemporal dynamics of dispersal routes of terrestrial fauna in Pleistocene Southeast Asia. We sampled 213 termite colonies from 66 localities throughout the region. Independently inherited microsatellites and mtDNA markers were used to infer the phylogeographic framework of M. gilvus. Discrete phylogeographic analysis and molecular dating based on fossil calibration were used to infer the dynamics of M. gilvus dispersal in time and space across Southeast Asia. We found that the termite dispersal events were consistently dated within the Pleistocene time frame. The dispersal pattern was multidirectional, radiating eastwards and southwards out of Indochina, which was identified as the origin for dispersal events. We found no direct dispersal events between Sumatra and Borneo despite the presence of a terrestrial connection between them during the Pleistocene. Instead, central Java served as an important link allowing termite colonies to be established in Borneo and Sumatra. Our findings support the hypothesis of a north-south dispersal corridor in Southeast Asia and suggest the presence of alternative dispersal routes across Sundaland during the Pleistocene. For the first time, we also propose that a west-east dispersal through over-water rafting likely occurred across the Pleistocene South China Sea. We found at least two independent entry routes for terrestrial species to infiltrate Sumatra and Borneo at different times.
Project description:Distribution of tropical rainforests in Southeastern Asia has changed over geo-logical time scale, due to movement of tectonic plates and/or global climatic changes. Shorea parvifolia is one of the most common tropical lowland rainforest tree species in Southeastern Asia. To infer population structure and demographic history of S. parvifolia, as indicators of temporal changes in the distribution and extent of tropical rainforest in this region, we studied levels and patterns of nucleotide polymorphism in the following five nuclear gene regions: GapC, GBSSI, PgiC, SBE2, and SODH. Seven populations from peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, and eastern Borneo were included in the analyses. STRUCTURE analysis revealed that the investigated populations are divided into two groups: Sumatra-Malay and Borneo. Furthermore, each group contained one admixed population. Under isolation with migration model, divergence of the two groups was estimated to occur between late Pliocene (2.6 MYA) and middle Pleistocene (0.7 MYA). The log-likelihood ratio tests of several demographic models strongly supported model with population expansion and low level of migration after divergence of the Sumatra-Malay and Borneo groups. The inferred demographic history of S. parvifolia suggested the presence of a scarcely forested land bridge on the Sunda Shelf during glacial periods in the Pleistocene and predominance of tropical lowland rainforest at least in Sumatra and eastern Borneo.
Project description:Tropical mountains are cradles of biodiversity and endemism. Sundaland, tropical Southeast Asia, hosts 3 species of Rattus endemic to elevations above 2000 m with an apparent convergence in external morphology: Rattus korinchi and R. hoogerwerfi from Sumatra, and R. baluensis from Borneo. A fourth one, R. tiomanicus, is restricted to lowland elevations across the whole region. The origins of these endemics are little known due to the absence of a robust phylogenetic framework. We use complete mitochondrial genomes from the 3 high altitude Rattus, and several related species to determine their relationships, date divergences, reconstruct their history of colonization, and test for selection on the mitochondrial DNA. We show that mountain colonization happened independently in Borneo (<390 Kya) and Sumatra (~1.38 Mya), likely from lowland lineages. The origin of the Bornean endemic R. baluensis is very recent and its genetic diversity is nested within the diversity of R. tiomanicus. We found weak evidence of positive selection in the high-elevation lineages and attributed the greater nonsynonymous mutations on these branches (specially R. baluensis) to lesser purifying selection having acted on the terminal branches in the phylogeny.
Project description:Rising global demands for food and biofuels are driving forest clearance in the tropics. Oil-palm expansion contributes to biodiversity declines and carbon emissions in Southeast Asia. However, the magnitudes of these impacts remain largely unquantified until now. We produce a 250-m spatial resolution map of closed canopy oil-palm plantations in the lowlands of Peninsular Malaysia (2 million ha), Borneo (2.4 million ha), and Sumatra (3.9 million ha). We demonstrate that 6% (or ?880,000 ha) of tropical peatlands in the region had been converted to oil-palm plantations by the early 2000s. Conversion of peatswamp forests to oil palm led to biodiversity declines of 1% in Borneo (equivalent to four species of forest-dwelling birds), 3.4% in Sumatra (16 species), and 12.1% in Peninsular Malaysia (46 species). This land-use change also contributed to the loss of ?140 million Mg of aboveground biomass carbon, and annual emissions of ?4.6 million Mg of belowground carbon from peat oxidation. Additionally, the loss of peatswamp forests implies the loss of carbon sequestration service through peat accumulation, which amounts to ?660,000 Mg of carbon annually. By 2010, 2.3 million ha of peatswamp forests were clear-felled, and currently occur as degraded lands. Reforestation of these clearings could enhance biodiversity by up to ?20%, whereas oil-palm establishment would exacerbate species losses by up to ?12%. To safeguard the region's biodiversity and carbon stocks, conservation and reforestation efforts should target Central Kalimantan, Riau, and West Kalimantan, which retain three-quarters (3.9 million ha) of the remaining peatswamp forests in Southeast Asia.
Project description:The extent of Dipterocarp rainforests on the emergent Sundaland landmass in Southeast Asia during Quaternary glaciations remains a key question. A better understanding of the biogeographic history of Sundaland could help explain current patterns of biodiversity and support the development of effective forest conservation strategies. Dipterocarpaceae trees dominate the rainforests of Sundaland, and their distributions serve as a proxy for rainforest extent. We used species distribution models (SDMs) of 317 Dipterocarp species to estimate the geographic extent of appropriate climatic conditions for rainforest on Sundaland at the last glacial maximum (LGM). The SDMs suggest that the climate of central Sundaland at the LGM was suitable to sustain Dipterocarp rainforest, and that the presence of a previously suggested transequatorial savannah corridor at that time is unlikely. Our findings are supported by palynologic evidence, dynamic vegetation models, extant mammal and termite communities, vascular plant fatty acid stable isotopic compositions, and stable carbon isotopic compositions of cave guano profiles. Although Dipterocarp species richness was generally lower at the LGM, areas of high species richness were mostly found off the current islands and on the emergent Sunda Shelf, indicating substantial species migration and mixing during the transitions between the Quaternary glacial maxima and warm periods such as the present.
Project description:Today, insular Southeast Asia is important for both its remarkably rich biodiversity and globally significant roles in atmospheric and oceanic circulation. Despite the fundamental importance of environmental history for diversity and conservation, there is little primary evidence concerning the nature of vegetation in north equatorial Southeast Asia during the Last Glacial Period (LGP). As a result, even the general distribution of vegetation during the Last Glacial Maximum is debated. Here we show, using the stable carbon isotope composition of ancient cave guano profiles, that there was a substantial forest contraction during the LGP on both peninsular Malaysia and Palawan, while rainforest was maintained in northern Borneo. These results directly support rainforest "refugia" hypotheses and provide evidence that environmental barriers likely reduced genetic mixing between Borneo and Sumatra flora and fauna. Moreover, it sheds light on possible early human dispersal events.
Project description:Background. The bay cat Catopuma badia is endemic to Borneo, whereas its sister species the Asian golden cat Catopuma temminckii is distributed from the Himalayas and southern China through Indochina, Peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra. Based on morphological data, up to five subspecies of the Asian golden cat have been recognized, but a taxonomic assessment, including molecular data and morphological characters, is still lacking. Results. We combined molecular data (whole mitochondrial genomes), morphological data (pelage) and species distribution projections (up to the Late Pleistocene) to infer how environmental changes may have influenced the distribution of these sister species over the past 120?000 years. The molecular analysis was based on sequenced mitogenomes of 3 bay cats and 40 Asian golden cats derived mainly from archival samples. Our molecular data suggested a time of split between the two species approximately 3.16?Ma and revealed very low nucleotide diversity within the Asian golden cat population, which supports recent expansion of the population. Discussion. The low nucleotide diversity suggested a population bottleneck in the Asian golden cat, possibly caused by the eruption of the Toba volcano in Northern Sumatra (approx. 74?kya), followed by a continuous population expansion in the Late Pleistocene/Early Holocene. Species distribution projections, the reconstruction of the demographic history, a genetic isolation-by-distance pattern and a gradual variation of pelage pattern support the hypothesis of a post-Toba population expansion of the Asian golden cat from south China/Indochina to Peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra. Our findings reject the current classification of five subspecies for the Asian golden cat, but instead support either a monotypic species or one comprising two subspecies: (i) the Sunda golden cat, distributed south of the Isthmus of Kra: C. t. temminckii and (ii) Indochinese, Indian, Himalayan and Chinese golden cats, occurring north of the Isthmus: C. t. moormensis.