Integrating evolutionary history into conservation planning

One third of the world’s reef-building corals face heightened extinction risks due to climate change and human impact, but not all species are equally affected. In this study, researchers used GBIF-mediated data and other sources to perform extinction analyses based on phylogenetic metrics and geographical distributions.

Pillar coral (Dendrogyra cylindrus) by biolquiroga via iNaturalist

Pillar coral (Dendrogyra cylindrus) by biolquiroga via iNaturalist. Photo licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0

One third of the world’s reef-building corals face heightened extinction risks due to climate change and human impact, but not all species are equally affected. In this study, researchers used GBIF-mediated data and other sources to perform extinction analyses based on phylogenetic metrics and geographical distributions. Their results showed the highest proportion of threatened species in the most species-rich ecoregions, but threat to these regions is buffered by their evolutionary redundancy. So despite the comparative threat proportion, such areas face minimal loss of phylogenetic diversity—highlighting the need for integrating evolutionary history into conservation planning.

Citations

Huang D & Roy K (2015) The future of evolutionary diversity in reef corals. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences 370(1662): 20140010-. doi:10.1098/rstb.2014.0010

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