alexa Incorporating geographical and evolutionary rarity into conservation prioritization.
Environmental Sciences

Environmental Sciences

Journal of Ecosystem & Ecography

Author(s): Tucker CM, Cadotte MW, Davies TJ, Rebelo TG

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Abstract Key goals of conservation are to protect both species and the functional and genetic diversity they represent. A strictly species-based approach may underrepresent rare, threatened, or genetically distinct species and overrepresent widespread species. Although reserves are created for a number of reasons, including economic, cultural, and ecological reasons, their efficacy has been measured primarily in terms of how well species richness is protected, and it is useful to compare how well they protect other measures of diversity. We used Proteaceae species-occurrence data in the Cape Floristic Region of South Africa to illustrate differences in the spatial distribution of species and evolutionary diversity estimated from a new maximum-likelihood molecular phylogeny. We calculated species richness, phylogenetic diversity (i.e., summed phylogenetic branch lengths in a site), and a site-aggregated measure of biogeographically weighted evolutionary distinctiveness (i.e., an abundance weighted measure that captures the unique proportion of the phylogenetic tree a species represents) for sites throughout the Cape Floristic Region. Species richness and phylogenetic diversity values were highly correlated for sites in the region, but species richness was concentrated at a few sites that underrepresented the much more spatially extensive distribution of phylogenetic diversity. Biogeographically weighted evolutionary diversity produced a scheme of prioritization distinct from the other 2 metrics and highlighted southern sites as conservation priorities. In these sites, the high values of biogeographically weighted evolutionary distinctiveness were the result of a nonrandom relation between evolutionary distinctiveness and geographical rarity, where rare species also tended to have high levels of evolutionary distinctiveness. Such distinct and rare species are of particular concern, but are not captured by conservation schemes that focus on species richness or phylogenetic diversity alone. ©2012 Society for Conservation Biology. This article was published in Conserv Biol and referenced in Journal of Ecosystem & Ecography

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