[Taxacom] Heritage biodiversity

pierre deleporte pierre.deleporte at univ-rennes1.fr
Thu Jul 20 04:49:40 CDT 2006


I also have a feeling that "species" are not equal in our appreciation of 
biodiversity, and that criteria for conservation priorities are intuitively 
at work, considering not only the presence of "species", but also that of 
their biological characters. We likely would care less for the loss of one 
coelacanth species, would we have hundreds of living and very similar 
coelacanth species swimming around there

an overall similarity criterion seems to be implicitly involved, possibly 
frequently linked with "phylogenetic insulation", or "missing link" 
position of some characters of interest (the way coelacanths swimm...), but 
not necessarily in theory: the recent but fast evolution of a close 
relative of living species would also make it "highly worth being 
preserved" (mammalian big brained bipeds for instance...)

maybe this is a place where phenetics of ages could survive some way, would 
it come to a formal appreciation of "overall originality in biological 
features"... but I think that we may also be impressed by a few peculiar 
characters of interest (e.g. a morphologically trivial bug with a striking 
social behavior...)

in summary, my feeling is that our intuitive appreciation of conservation 
priorities is based on both quantitative and qualitative originality of the 
taxon at stake, the common term being "originality"... (some sibling 
species could be at great risk of indifference).

this is not to ignore a point already discussed on this list: that 
emergency conservation priorities should be planned a realist way in 
ecological terms through the preservation of a diversity of landscapes (not 
to mention possible "ecosystem keystone species" if such things exist); 
pointing at species of peculiar interest because of original characters 
would merely be a complementary argument, a possible support for 
propaganda... and a mean for taxonomists to make their point some way!

for what it's worth...


A 09:43 20/07/2006 +1000, vous avez écrit :
>Many thanks for expanding on that point.
>It may not be the case, of course, that the phylogenetically isolated
>species is the sole survivor of a much larger clade. It could be the latest
>product of a lineage which has always been species-poor in comparison to
>species-rich sister clades. Putting that aside, however, your use of
>"biodiversity" in this context is very interesting. Would I be right in
>re-stating your argument this way?:
>There is living biodiversity, which is all extant life. There is also
>"heritage biodiversity", which is all extinct life. Heritage biodiversity
>connects to living biodiversity in complex ways, but there are cases where a
>large chunk of heritage biodiversity is phylogenetically linked to one or a
>few living species. We should aim to conserve both living and heritage
>biodiversity. Conserving phylogenetically isolated species is an efficient
>way to do this, because by conserving one such living species you are
>simultaneously conserving a large number of extinct species.
>I hope you don't mind my putting the case in this way, but it does seem that
>this argument values dead species rather highly for conservation purposes.
>Perhaps a more conventional view is to say that the phylogenetically
>isolated species is very different from related forms. This view values the
>living species because it's special, and those special features can be seen
>and appreciated by someone ignorant of past life.
>Dr Robert Mesibov
>Honorary Research Associate, Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery
>and School of Zoology, University of Tasmania
>Home contact: PO Box 101, Penguin, Tasmania, Australia 7316
>(03) 64371195; 61 3 64371195
>Tasmanian Multipedes
>Spatial data basics for Tasmania
>Taxacom mailing list
>Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu

Pierre Deleporte
CNRS UMR 6552 - Station Biologique de Paimpont
F-35380 Paimpont   FRANCE
Téléphone : 02 99 61 81 63
Télécopie : 02 99 61 81 88

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