Chapter

Biodiversity Conservation and Phylogenetic Systematics

Volume 14 of the series Topics in Biodiversity and Conservation pp 319-332

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Metapopulation Capacity Meets Evolutionary Distinctness: Spatial Fragmentation Complements Phylogenetic Rarity in Prioritization

  • Jessica K. SchnellAffiliated withDepartment of Migration and Immuno-ecology, Max Planck Institute for OrnithologyDepartment of Biology, University of Konstanz Email author 
  • , Kamran SafiAffiliated withDepartment of Migration and Immuno-ecology, Max Planck Institute for OrnithologyDepartment of Biology, University of Konstanz

Abstract

Many species have declined or already gone extinct due to the human activities across the world causing what is termed the current sixth mass extinction event. The biggest determinant of species survival is the availability of a network of suitable habitat, affecting population size and eventual extinction risk. Considering that modern technology allows us to efficiently quantify habitat loss, species distribution data can inform us of the required minimum connectivity of habitats. Evolutionary distinctiveness (ED) is already part of conservation schemes to prioritize rare traits and unique phylogenetic history. However, so far none of these prioritisations quantifies the spatial constraints of a species to estimate long-term persistence based on the fragmentation of the landscape. Metapopulation capacity (λM) is one such measurement for quantifying fragmentation. Here we propose a combination of metapopulation capacity and phylogenetic distinctiveness to prioritize important specific habitat patches for evolutionary distinct species. We applied the new framework to prioritize island mammals and found Data Deficient and Least Concern species with a high combined value in ED and λM. Balancing between the extinction risks of solitary islands and the potential loss of unique evolutionary history of rare species on these islands can be a worthwhile exercise in prioritization schemes.

Keywords

Habitat fragmentation Metapopulation capacity EDGE of existence Conservation Islands