Origins and assembly of Malesian rainforests

Robert M. Kooyman, Robert J. Morley, Darren Crayn, Elizabeth M. Joyce, Maurizio Rossetto, J. W. Ferry Slik, Joeri S. Strijk, Tao Su, Jia Yee S Yap, Peter Wilf

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    43 Citations (Scopus)


    Unravelling the origins of Malesia’s once vast, hyper-diverse rainforests is a perennial challenge. Major contributions to rainforest assembly came from floristic elements carried on the Indian Plate and montane elements from the Australian Plate (Sahul). The Sahul component is now understood to include substantial two-way exchanges with Sunda inclusive of lowland taxa. Evidence for the relative contributions of the great Asiatic floristic interchanges (GAFIs) with India and Sahul, respectively, to the flora of Malesia comes from contemporary lineage distributions, the fossil record, time-calibrated phylogenies, functional traits, and the spatial structure of genetic diversity. Functional-trait and biome conservatism are noted features of montane austral lineages from Sahul (e.g., diverse Podocarpaceae), whereas the abundance and diversity of lowland lineages, including Syzygium (Myrtaceae) and the Asian dipterocarps (Dipterocarpoideae), reflect a less well understood combination of dispersal, ecology, and adaptive radiations. Thus, Malesian rainforest assembly has been shaped by sharply contrasting evolutionary origins and biogeographic histories.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)119-143
    Number of pages25
    JournalAnnual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics
    Early online dateJul 2019
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019


    • GAFI
    • great Asiatic floristic interchange
    • India
    • Malesia
    • paleobotany
    • rainforest assembly
    • Sunda-Sahul


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