Biodiversity Conservation and Phylogenetic Systematics

Volume 14 of the series Topics in Biodiversity and Conservation pp 39-56

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The PD Phylogenetic Diversity Framework: Linking Evolutionary History to Feature Diversity for Biodiversity Conservation


Feature diversity refers to the relative number of different features represented among species or other taxa. As a storehouse of possible future benefits to people, it is an important focus for biodiversity conservation. The PD phylogenetic diversity measure provides a way to measure biodiversity at the level of features. PD assumes an evolutionary model in which shared features are explained by shared ancestry. This avoids philosophical and practical weaknesses of the conventional interpretation of biodiversity as based on some measure of pair-wise differences among taxa. The link to features also provides a family of PD-based calculations that can be interpreted as if we are counting-up features of taxa. The range of feature diversity calculations assists comparisons of methods, and helps overcome the current lack of review and synthesis of the variety of proposed methods for integrating evolutionary history into biodiversity conservation. One family of popular indices is based on the evolutionary distinctiveness (ED) measure. These indices all have the limitation that complementarity, reflecting degree of phylogenetic overlap among taxa, is not properly taken into account. Related indices provide priorities or other scores for geographic areas, but do not effectively combine complementarity, probabilities of extinction, and measures of restricted-range. PD-based measures can overcome these problems. Applications include the identification of key biodiversity sites of global significance for biodiversity conservation.


Option value Endemism IPBES Philosophy of science IUCN