Biodiv Sci ›› 2014, Vol. 22 ›› Issue (1): 40-50.  DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1003.2014.13144

Special Issue: 基因组和生物多样性

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Diversification of Southeast Asian mammals during the Quaternary glaciation: insights from the genomic era

Lin Miao, Shu-Jin Luo*()   

  1. College of Life Sciences, Peking-Tsinghua Center for Life Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871
  • Received:2013-06-24 Accepted:2013-12-25 Online:2014-01-20 Published:2014-02-10
  • Contact: Luo Shu-Jin


Southeast (SE) Asia refers to the region east to the Philippine islands, west to the Indian subcontinent, north to central China and south to the Sunda islands. This region includes six of the world’s 25 biodiversity hotspots and is of strategic significance in global biodiversity conservation. The complicated geological and climatological history of this region has resulted in extremely high species diversity and endemism. Two classic biogeographic boundaries, the Wallace Line and the Isthmus of Kra, divide SE Asia into the Indochinese province to the north and Sundaic province to the south. Because the Indochinese and Sundaic provinces are connected today through the Malay Peninsula and the Sunda shelf was exposed for the majority of time during the Quaternary glaciation, previous biogeographic studies have proposed that gene flow occurred between mainland and different island populations causing low divergence in the region. However, recent molecular genetic studies have reported that migration of terrestrial mammal populations was not as great as previously thought due to ecological restrictions. Thus, deep vicariant divergence was present in several mammals as early as two million years ago and appeared not to have been affected by gene flow following the formation of land bridges during later glacial periods. Furthermore, the super eruption of the Toba volcano in Sumatra about 73,000 years ago may have intensified divergence. A literature review has indicated three hierarchical levels present in the formation of mammalian diversity in SE Asia. These include populations between the Indochinese and Sundaic provinces which diverged millions of years ago, populations among the Sunda Islands which diverged hundreds of thousands of years ago, and Late Pleistocene biogeographic events causing demographic changes. Most of the previous population genetic studies on SE Asia mammals were based on analyses of mitochondrial or nuclear DNA data. Recent advances in population genomics provide new opportunities to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the demographic history and speciation processes of SE Asian mammals during the Quaternary glaciation.

Key words: Southeast Asia, biogeography, mammal, population genomics, Quaternary