Phylogeny, extinction and conservation: Embracing uncertainties in a time of urgency

  • Forest F
  • Crandal K
  • Chase M
 et al. 
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Abstract

Evolutionary studies have played a fundamental role in our understanding of life, but until recently, they had only a relatively modest involvement in addressing conservation issues. The main goal of the present discussion meeting issue is to offer a platform to present the available methods allowing the integration of phylogenetic and extinction risk data in conservation planning. Here, we identify the main knowledge gaps in biodiversity science, which include incomplete sampling, reconstruction biases in phylogenetic analyses, partly known species distribution ranges, and the difficulty in producing conservation assessments for all known species, not to mention that much of the effective biological diversity remains to be discovered. Given the impact that human activities have on biodiversity and the urgency with which we need to address these issues, imperfect assumptions need to be sanctioned and surrogates used in the race to salvage as much as possible of our natural and evolutionary heritage. We discuss some aspects of the uncertainties found in biodiversity science, such as the ideal surrogates for biodiversity, the gaps in our knowledge and the numerous available phylogenetic diversity-based methods. We also introduce a series of cases studies that demonstrate how evolutionary biology can effectively contribute to biodiversity conservation science.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Evolutionary biology
  • Extinction risks
  • Feature diversity
  • Phylogenetic diversity
  • Uncertainty

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Authors

  • F�lix Forest

  • Keith A. Crandal

  • Mark W. Chase

  • Daniel P. Faith

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