Skip to main content

Mountains, climate, and biodiversity in the Andes-Amazonian system

Carina Hoorn | University of Amsterdam

Abstract: Mountains are hotspots of biodiversity, with a quarter of all terrestrial species occurring in a tenth of the world’s surface. The origins of this mountain biodiversity is still poorly understood but geology can provide at least part of the answers through accurate age models for uplift and past surface elevation. In combination, the fossil record, molecular phylogenies, and dated geological and climate records can provide new insights into the processes that have shaped mountain biodiversity. Mountain building also affected the adjacent lowlands by altering regional climate, drainage patterns, environments, and biodiversity. In this presentation I will discuss the example of the Andes-Amazonian system where Andean uplift not only defined the elevational gradient and mountain biodiversity but also shaped the composition of the Amazonian landscape and its biota. I conclude with a reflection on how this geological and climate history is imprinted in the modern landscape and visible in edaphic, hydrologic, and biogeographic patterns.


Carina Hoorn is a geologist/paleoecologist and associate professor at the University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands). She holds an MSc (1988) and PhD (1994) from this university and an MSc (2003) in Science Communication from Imperial College London (UK). Her main research interest is Cenozoic paleobiogeography, and the regions she is most interested in are Amazonia, the Andes, Tibet, the Himalayas, and SE Asia.