Using Phylogenetic Information to Make Better Conservation Decisions

Marc W. Cadotte and T. Jonathan Davies

in Phylogenies in Ecology

Published by Princeton University Press

Published in print August 2016 | ISBN: 9780691157689
Published online January 2018 | e-ISBN: 9781400881192
Using Phylogenetic Information to Make Better Conservation Decisions

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This chapter explains how phylogenetic information can be used to make better conservation decisions. Evidence shows that human-caused climate change is likely to be the dominant cause of extinction in the near future. Phylogeny can provide a powerful tool for aiding decision making in species conservation. The chapter first considers the importance of preserving evolutionary history by focusing on the tree of life, the phylogenetic tree connecting all living organisms that provides a powerful metaphor for conservation biology. It then examines phylogenetically based metrics for quantifying evolutionary history, including phylogenetic diversity for evaluating sites and evolutionary distinctiveness for comparing species. It also discusses the integration of evolutionary history with extinction probabilities for conservation prioritization using relative extinction risk to weight evolutionary distinctiveness, or EDGE (evolutionarily distinct and globally endangered). Finally, it describes how to prioritize biodiversity hotspots of evolutionary distinctiveness and how to apply metrics to conservation prioritization.

Keywords: climate change; extinction; phylogeny; evolutionary history; tree of life; conservation biology; phylogenetic diversity; evolutionary distinctiveness; biodiversity hotspots; species conservation

Chapter.  5395 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Animal Pathology and Diseases

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