The role of mountain ranges in the diversification of birds

Avian faunas vary greatly among montane areas; those at high latitudes are biologically impoverished, whereas those of some low-latitude mountains are biologically very complex. Their high level of species richness is caused by the aggregation of many small-ranged species, which has been difficult to explain from purely macroecological models focusing on contemporary ecological processes. Because the individual mountain tracts harbor species that represent different evolutionary trajectories, it seems plausible to relate these species assemblages to high persistence (or absence of extinction) in addition to high levels of speciation.The distribution of small-ranged species is concentrated near tropical coasts, where moderation of the climate in topographically complex areas creates cloud forests and stable local conditions. The stability underpins specialization and resilience of local populations, and thereby the role of these places as cradles of biodiversity.