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Spatial predictions of phylogenetic diversity in conservation decision making.
Considering genetic relatedness among species has long been argued as an important step toward measuring biological diversity more accurately, rather than relying solely on species richness. Some researchers have correlated measures of phylogenetic diversity and species richness across a series of sites and suggest that values of phylogenetic diversity do not differ enough from those of species richness to justify their inclusion in conservation planning. We compared predictions of species richness and 10 measures of phylogenetic diversity by creating distribution models for 168 individual species of a species-rich plant family, the Cape Proteaceae. When we used average amounts of land set aside for conservation to compare areas selected on the basis of species richness with areas selected on the basis of phylogenetic diversity, correlations between species richness and different measures of phylogenetic diversity varied considerably. Correlations between species richness and measures that were based on the length of phylogenetic tree branches and tree shape were weaker than those that were based on tree shape alone. Elevation explained up to 31% of the segregation of species rich versus phylogenetically rich areas. Given these results, the increased availability of molecular data, and the known ecological effect of phylogenetically rich communities, consideration of phylogenetic diversity in conservation decision making may be feasible and informative.
phylogenetic diversity, species richness, Proteaceae, spatial overlap, South Africa, conservation planning, predictive modeling, Angiosperms.
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