Mount Kinabalu: cradle or museum of diversity?

The flora and fauna of Kinabalu pose a mystery. The mountain is only 1.5 million years old, yet its biodiversity is unique: many species occur on the summit and nowhere else on earth.

The origins of these "endemic" species have been elusive. They are either young: evolved from lowland ancestors by adaptation to the high elevation habitat. Or old: relicts of ecosystems that existed before it became uplifted. The Kinabalu - Crocker Range Expedition, organized by Sabah Parks and Naturalis Biodiversity Center, aims to discover whether Kinabalu is a cradle or a museum of biodiversity.

Our three step approach:

Explore & discover
A Malaysian-Dutch team will collect and identify plant and animal specimens from sea-level to the summit. New species will be discovered and named.

Evolutionary sleuthing
The DNA-barcoding lab of Naturalis will obtain 3,000 DNA sequences to reconstruct 50 separate evolutionary trees for animal and plant taxa in which lowland species and closely related highland-endemics exist.

Experienced taxonomists will train young (Malaysian and Dutch) scientists. High-impact scientific publications will be written jointly.

In Wallace's footsteps
Wallace, A.R., 1855. On the law which has regulated the introduction of new species. 
Annls. Mag. Nat. Hist. (n.s.), 16: 184-194

The island of Borneo was in fact at the cradle of Evolutionary Biology. In Borneo the English naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace penned a short paper entitled "On the Law Which Has Regulated the Introduction of New Species."  in which he elaborated on the phenomenon that related species are always found in close geographical proximity to each other and that species known as fossils usually have their closest relatives in the same geological layer. This paper is generally considered as one of the key steps towards Darwin and Wallace's joint discovery and publication of the mechanism of evolution by natural selection, three years later in 1858. With this expedition we wish to follow in Wallace's footsteps.