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Journal Article

Mass elevation and lee effects markedly lift the elevational distribution of ground beetles in the Himalaya-Tibet orogen

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Schmidt, J., Böhner, J., Brandl, R., & Opgenoorth, L. (2017). Mass elevation and lee effects markedly lift the elevational distribution of ground beetles in the Himalaya-Tibet orogen. PLoS One, 12(3), 1-17. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0172939.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0000-3606-D
Mass elevation and lee effects markedly influence snow lines and tree lines in high mountain systems. However, their impact on other phenomena or groups of organisms has not yet been quantified. Here we quantitatively studied their influence in the Himalaya–Tibet orogen on the distribution of ground beetles as model organisms, specifically whether the ground beetle distribution increases from the outer to the inner parts of the orogen, against latitudinal effects. We also tested whether July temperature and solar radiation are predictors of the beetle’s elevational distribution ranges. Finally, we discussed the general importance of these effects for the distributional and evolutionary history of the biota of High Asia. We modelled spatially explicit estimates of variables characterizing temperature and solar radiation and correlated the variables with the respective lower elevational range of 118 species of ground beetles from 76 high-alpine locations. Both July temperature and solar radiation significantly positively correlated with the elevational ranges of high-alpine beetles. Against the latitudinal trend, the median elevation of the respective species distributions increased by 800 m from the Himalayan south face north to the Transhimalaya. Our results indicate that an increase in seasonal temperature due to mass elevation and lee effects substantially impact the regional distribution patterns of alpine ground beetles of the Himalaya–Tibet orogen and are likely to affect also other soil biota there and in mountain ranges worldwide. Since these effects must have changed during orogenesis, their potential impact must be considered when biogeographic scenarios based on geological models are derived. As this has not been the practice, we believe that large biases likely exist in many paleoecological and evolutionary studies dealing with the biota from the Himalaya-Tibet orogen and mountain ranges worldwide.