eCite Digital Repository

Global distribution and conservation of evolutionary distinctness in birds


Jetz, W and Thomas, GH and Joy, JB and Redding, DW and Hartmann, K and Mooers, AO, Global distribution and conservation of evolutionary distinctness in birds, Current Biology, 24, (9) pp. 919-930. ISSN 0960-9822 (2014) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2014 Cell Press

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.cub.2014.03.011


Background: Integrated, efficient, and global prioritization approaches are necessary to manage the ongoing loss of species and their associated function. ‘‘Evolutionary distinctness’’ measures a species’ contribution to the total evolutionary history of its clade and is expected to capture uniquely divergent genomes and functions. Here we demonstrate how such a metric identifies species and regions of particular value for safeguarding evolutionary diversity. Results: Among the world’s 9,993 recognized bird species, evolutionary distinctness is very heterogeneously distributed on the phylogenetic tree and varies little with range size or threat level. Species representing the most evolutionary history over the smallest area (those with greatest ‘‘evolutionary distinctness rarity’’) as well as some of the most imperiled distinct species are often concentrated outside the species-rich regions and countries, suggesting they may not be well captured by current conservation planning. We perform global cross-species and spatial analyses and generate minimum conservation sets to assess the benefits of the presented species-level metrics. We find that prioritizing imperiled species by their evolutionary distinctness and geographic rarity is a surprisingly effective and spatially economical way to maintain the total evolutionary information encompassing the world’s birds. We identify potential conservation gaps in relation to the existing reserve network that in particular highlight islands as effective priority areas. Conclusions: The presented distinctness metrics are effective yet easily communicable and versatile tools to assist objective global conservation decision making. Given that most species will remain ecologically understudied, combining growing phylogenetic and spatial data may be an efficient way to retain vital aspects of biodiversity.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:birds, distribution, phylogenetics, distinctness, conservation
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Genetics
Research Field:Genetics not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Coastal and estuarine systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of coastal and estuarine ecosystems
UTAS Author:Hartmann, K (Dr Klaas Hartmann)
ID Code:96800
Year Published:2014
Web of Science® Times Cited:307
Deposited By:Sustainable Marine Research Collaboration
Deposited On:2014-11-21
Last Modified:2017-10-31

Repository Staff Only: item control page