[Taxacom] Biodiversity and conservation
kinman at hotmail.com
Tue Jul 18 22:47:54 CDT 2006
Dear Bob and other Taxacomers:
By biodiversity I was referring to a section of the tree of life. The
Family Craseonycteridae presumably once had a much higher number of species,
and extinction has left us with only one extant species within a very small
relictual geographic range. By contrast, the two Families to which it is
most closely related have a larger number of extant species. Therefore the
loss of the single extant species of Craseonycteridae would very roughly be
equivalent (from a biodiversity standpoint) to the loss of all members of
one of those other two families (or at the very least the loss of a subset
of one of those families should one of them turn out to be paraphyletic with
respect to Craseonycteridae).
It is sort of like (although to a lesser degree) the loss of the
aardvark compared to the loss of one species of the genus Rattus. The loss
of a single species of Rattus would not be equivalent to the loss of a
monotypic genus of mammal (much less an entire Family or Order).
Conservation efforts should have some recognition of this with a sort of
"triage" giving somewhat greater attention to species within species-poor
taxa (i.e., "phylogenetically isolated" species as Bob refers to them below)
over species within species-rich taxa.
From : Bob Mesibov <mesibov at southcom.com.au>
To : <kinman at hotmail.com>
Subject : Re: Article on poaching newly described species in current issue
of The Chronicle of Higher Education
Ken Kinman wrote on TAXACOM:
"After all, there is only one extant species in Family Craseonycteridae, so
it would be the extinction of an entire Family (thus a bigger chunk of
biodiversity than in most cases)."
Ken, this is a very interesting use of the word "biodiversity". It's a use
allied to the argument that phylogenetically isolated species should be
given a higher priority in conservation. Could you expand on just what you
mean by "biodiversity" here?
(I haven't sent this to TAXACOM, but you're welcome to copy my msg in a
posting there if you think the topic needs discussing.)
Dr Robert Mesibov
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