[Taxacom] Heritage biodiversity

Ken Kinman kinman at hotmail.com
Thu Jul 20 21:56:10 CDT 2006

     Craseonycteris is not only the only extant member of Family 
Craseonycteridae, but it also has the distinction of being tied for the 
honour of being the smallest mammal (a species of shrew may or may not be 
slightly smaller, depending on which variable of "smallness" one is 
measuring).  That gave it some additional PR value in the press.  If it 
lived in North America, it would probably get far more attention.

      As for dead species, I would just love to get my hands on even a small 
piece of DNA from a few extinct arthropods (especially a trilobite and an 
         Ken Kinman
>From: pierre deleporte <pierre.deleporte at univ-rennes1.fr>
>To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
>Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Heritage biodiversity
>Date: Thu, 20 Jul 2006 11:49:40 +0200
>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 :
> >Ken,
> >
> >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 
> >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 
> >few living species. We should aim to conserve both living and heritage
> >biodiversity. Conserving phylogenetically isolated species is an 
> >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 
> >this argument values dead species rather highly for conservation 
> >Perhaps a more conventional view is to say that the phylogenetically
> >isolated species is very different from related forms. This view values 
> >living species because it's special, and those special features can be 
> >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
> >http://www.qvmag.tas.gov.au/zoology/multipedes/mulintro.html
> >Spatial data basics for Tasmania
> >http://www.geog.utas.edu.au/censis/locations/index.html
> >---
> >
> >
> >_______________________________________________
> >Taxacom mailing list
> >Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> >http://mailman.nhm.ku.edu/mailman/listinfo/taxacom
>Pierre Deleporte

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