Integrating multiple indices of biodiversity to identify novel areas of significance for conservation

Study uses measures of weighted endemism to reveal a series of regional species-rich areas worthy of conservation in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau

Agapetes praeclara
Agapetes praeclara C.Marquand observed in Nyingchi, Tibet, China by stinkyshi (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Species richness is not the only measure of biodiversity, and while the number of distinct species in a given area is important, factors such as endemicity, phylogenetic diversity and evolutionary distinctiveness are also relevant when identifying priority areas for biodiversity conservation.

In this study of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, researchers used GBIF-mediated data of 12,000 seed plant species to assess several measures of biodiversity including species richness, weighted endemism, phylogenetic diversity, phylogenetic endemism and biogeographically weighted evolutionary distinctiveness at a resolution of 50 × 50 km.

Their overall results showed a consistent gradual decrease of diversity from the southeast to the northwestern part of the region. To be able to identify areas of high endemism which do not necessarily contain a particularly high number of species overall, the authors used the corrected weighted endemism (CWE) measure and discovered several unique, previously unrecognized diverse areas. These were in contrast with other diversity metrics, which overlapped with already known hotspots.

Nine of the newly identified areas of high endemicity were located where protection is absent or inadequate, suggesting a need for re-evaluating regional conservation strategies.

Yu H, Deane DC, Zhang Y, Li S, Miao S, Xie G, Yin X and Favre A (2021) Integrating multiple indices of geobiodiversity reveals a series of regional species-rich areas worthy of conservation in the region of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Biological Conservation. Elsevier BV 261: 109238. Available at: