The potential drivers in forming avian biodiversity hotspots in the East Himalaya Mountains of Southwest China the East Himalaya Mountains of Southwest China

Little has been published to describe or interpret Asian biodiversity hotspots, including those in the East Himalayan Mountains of Southwest China (HMSC), thus making necessary a review of the current knowledge. The Pliocene and Pleistocene geological and glacial histories of the Asian continent differ from those of Europe and North America, suggesting different mechanisms of speciation and extinction, and, thus, different responses to climate changes during the Quaternary glaciations. This short review summarizes potential drivers in shaping and maintaining high species richness and endemism of birds in the HMSC. The geographical location at the junction of different biogeographical realms, the wide range of habitats and climates along the extensive elevational range, the complex topography and the distinct geological history of this region have probably contributed to the evolution of an exceptionally species-rich and endemic-rich, specialized montane avian fauna. The Mountain systems in the HMSC may have provided refugia where species survived during the glacial periods and barriers for preventing species dispersal after the glacial periods. More studies are required to further test this refugia hypothesis by comparing more cold-tolerent and warm-tolerent species.