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A Jabiru stork at the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary

MOL Blog

Distribution and conservation of global evolutionary distinctness in birds.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Use Map of Life to explore the evolutionary most distinct species at For example, the Giant Ibis or the Oilbird.

Or use the species list tool and search for birds to learn about how places differ in the distinctness of their assemblages.

Jetz, W., G. H. Thomas, J. B. Joy, K. Hartmann, D. Redding, and A. O. Mooers. 2014. Distribution and conservation of global evolutionary distinctness in birds.Current Biology 24, 1–12, May 5, 2014

The study quantifies evolutionary distinctness (ED), i.e. a species’ contribution to the total evolutionary history of its group, for all of the world’s 9,993 bird species and assesses which species are both distinct and rare (high EDR) or distinct and threatened (high EDGE). Species representing the most evolutionary history over the smallest area as well as some of the most imperiled distinct species are often concentrated outside the species-rich regions and countries, suggesting they may not be well captured by current conservation planning. The study demonstrates that with most species likely remaining ecologically understudied, combining growing phylogenetic and spatial data may be an efficient way to retain vital aspects of biodiversity.


Linking species values for evolutionary distinctenss (ED) and its rarity (EDR) to their geographic distribution supports identification of key potential priority areas for conserving phylogenetic diversity.


Potential priority areas for conservation for saving at least 60% of imperiled avian phylgenetic diversity following area selection by species evolutionary distinctness (ED, top 131 evolutionary distinct species). For details, see Figure 6 in study.


Potential top “conservation gap” cells for saving at least 60% of imperiled avian phylogenetic diversity. Cells in green flag the potential 113 top EDR “conservation gap” cells, red the additional cells ED based prioritization identifies, and orange further cells that only a “Random” (i.e. non-ED or –EDR focused) selection among Imperiled species would prioritize. For further details, see Figure 6 in study.