Terrestrial hotspots of evolutionary diversity point to new priorities for conservation

Study examines spatial overlaps between the global protected areas network and terrestrial phylodiversity hotspots

Data resources used via GBIF : occurrences of 6,483 genera
Polycardia lateralis
Polycardia lateralis observed in Analalava, Madagascar by David Rabehevitra. Photo via iNaturalist (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Identifying biodiversity hotspots is a common approach for prioritizing conservation. Most such designations, however, rely on species-level metrics and largely ignore phylogenetics. Although not necessarily more informative than species-level hotspots, phylodiversity hotspots can represent evolutionary history and, potentially, adaptive capacity.

Integrating data on phylogeny and geographical distribution of amphibians, mammals, birds and angiosperms, this study identifies 29 clusters of phylogenetic diversity worldwide. While a large proportion of these overlap with species-level hotspots, the study finds novel phylodiversity hotspots in Central Chile, Honshu (Japan), New Caledonia, the Appalachian Mountains and parts of Texas.

Across all taxonomic groups, the largest phylodiverse concentrations were found in tropical regions, and overall, less than 10 per cent of phylodiversity hotspots are designated as protected areas.

Original paper

Daru BH, le Roux PC, Gopalraj J, Park DS, Holt BG and Greve M (2019) Spatial overlaps between the global protected areas network and terrestrial hotspots of evolutionary diversity. Global Ecology and Biogeography. Wiley 28(6): 757–766. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.12888