The global diversification of songbirds (Oscines) and the build-up of the Sino-Himalayan diversity hotspot

Over the last decade, molecular phylogenetic studies have provided the foundation for a comprehensive analysis of the global diversification of songbirds (Oscines), which comprise nearly half of all the birds of the world. By comparing the spatial distribution of species representing basal and terminal root-path groups, this paper provides graphical illustrations of the global pattern of diversification for the major songbird clades. The worldwide expansion of songbirds started as an island radiation in the area where New Guinea is now located, but the mountains of southern China represent a principal center for more recent diversification. The paper suggests priorities and perspectives for further research aiming to understand what determines the variation in biodiversity on different spatial scales.