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Build an Ark? Biologists Discuss Conservation Prioritization

Nature Communications Monday, Jul. 23, 2018


Conservation biologists recognize a sobering reality. "We're losing species left, right and center," says Utah State University scientist Will Pearse. 'We call it the 'Noah's Ark Problem,' and we have to pick species to save. We can't save them all." ... Pearse, with colleagues Florent Mazel, Arne Mooers and Caroline Tucker of Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia, Marc Cadotte of the University of Toronto, Sandra Diaz of Argentina's National University of Cordoba, Giulio Valentino Dalla Riva of the University of British Columbia, Richard Grenyer of the University of Oxford, Fabien Leprieur of the University of Montpellier and David Mouillot of James Cook University, explore phylogenetic diversity as a metric of conservation prioritization in the July 23, 2018, issue of Nature Communications. "Our paper tests a fundamental component of conservation biology we refer to as the 'phylogenetic gambit,'" says Pearse, assistant professor in USU's Department of Biology and the USU Ecology Center. " ... In global datasets of mammals, birds and tropical fishes, the team demonstrates that, for the most part, the phylogenetic gambit holds. ... "Worryingly, though, we found in some parts of the world, and in some groups of species, preserving phylogenetic diversity did worse or just the same as random chance," Pearse says. "Luckily, we identified the areas and reasons this was happening, which still makes this selection technique valid and valuable for conservation biologists. "The team's efforts, organized through an international working group initiated by Tucker and Mooers, were funded by sDIV, the Synthesis Center for Biodiversity Sciences based in Leipzig, Germany.



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