Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 27, Issue 5, pp 1277–1288 | Cite as

Essential biodiversity variables are not global

  • A. Townsend Peterson
  • Jorge Soberón


Recent initiatives have focused on biological diversity and the ecosystem services that it provides, and have proposed a series of “essential biodiversity variables,” as a means of describing and characterizing that diversity. Although such variables would shed considerable and interesting light on distribution of biodiversity-related dimensions, here, we examine the feasibility of assembling such data resources for terrestrial systems on worldwide extents, to evaluate whether they can be feasibly characterized globally. We found large-scale, consistent information gaps across five EBV-related dimensions (genetic composition, species populations, species traits, community composition, and primary biodiversity data), most markedly across Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe; lesser gaps cover much of Asia and South America. Our results raise concerns that EBV-based initiatives, and the studies and policy decisions that they make, will be constrained from any global inference by these information gaps. Concrete progress towards making EBVs genuinely global will depend on adequate funding, training of high-level personnel, and creation of robust institutions in which to base these initiatives.


Essential biodiversity variables Ecosystem services Genetic composition Populations Traits Community composition Primary biodiversity data 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biodiversity InstituteThe University of KansasLawrenceUSA

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