Author(s): Redding DW, Hartmann K, Mimoto A, Bokal D, Devos M,
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Abstract Evolutionary distinctiveness measures of how evolutionarily isolated a species is relative to other members of its clade. Recently, distinctiveness metrics that explicitly incorporate time have been proposed for conservation prioritization. However, we found that such measures differ qualitatively in how well they capture the total amount of evolution (termed phylogenetic diversity, or PD) represented by a set of species. We used simulation and simple graph theory to explore this relationship with reference to phylogenetic tree shape. Overall, the distinctiveness measures capture more PD on more unbalanced trees and on trees with many splits near the present. The rank order of performance was robust across tree shapes, with apportioning measures performing best and node-based measures performing worst. A sample of 50 ultrametric trees from the literature showed the same patterns. Taken together, this suggests that distinctiveness metrics may be a useful addition to other measures of value for conservation prioritization of species. The simplest measure, the age of a species, performed surprisingly well, suggesting that new measures that focus on tree shape near the tips may provide a transparent alternative to more complicated full-tree approaches.
This article was published in J Theor Biol
and referenced in Journal of Ecosystem & Ecography