Continental gateways occur where mountainous topography interacts with changing climate and sea level to open or close dispersal corridors. The interaction of permeable or impermeable montane barriers with changing or stable climate yields four biogeographic states, each associated with changes in diversification rates and ecological structure of faunas. For example, permeable montane barriers and climatic stability result in low rates of immigration and extinction, elevated endemic speciation, and stable ecological structure. Three examples from the mammalian fossil record test these scenarios. (1) In Miocene faunas of Pakistan, immigration rates peaked and faunal proportions changed during an interval of cooling and open corridors. (2) In Miocene faunas of Spain, elevated extinction and origination rates and changing trophic structure occurred during regional aridification with open corridors. (3) In Quaternary faunas of South Africa, ungulates experienced range reductions and elevated extinction during the transition from glacial to interglacial climates as corridors closed.

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