Origins and Assembly of Malesian Rainforests

Robert M. Kooyman, Robert J. Morley, Darren M. 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

49 Scopus citations


Unraveling the origins of Malesia's once vast, hyperdiverse rainforests is a perennial challenge. Major contributions to rainforest assembly came from floristic elements carried on the Indian Plate and montane elementsfrom 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 (US)
Pages (from-to)119-143
Number of pages25
JournalAnnual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics
StatePublished - 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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