Evolutionary distinctness will now help save birds from extinction
Scientists have revealed that identifying evolutionary distinctness of birds will help them save birds from extinction.
Walter Jetz of Yale University said that evolutionary distinctness is a metric that informs about the loss of evolutionary information that the extinction of a given species would cause and because of global family trees they will be able to compare this aspect of distinctness for all species.
The researchers report that world's top 50 most evolutionarily distinct bird species include widely distributed and common species such as the osprey and the ostrich, well-known oddities such as the hoatzin and the shoebill, and lesser-known, range-restricted species such as the New Caledonian owlet-nightjar and the Solomon Islands frogmouth, the researchers report.
The list also includes the South American oilbird and the cuckoo roller of Madagascar, which are both separated from the rest of the avian tree of life by more than 65 million years.
The study shows that use of distinctness measures can provide an objective, effective, and economical way to protect evolutionary diversity and the approach may be particularly useful because information about relationships among species is often much easier to come by than detailed ecological assessments, and evolutionarily distinct species can often be found in places that aren't well known as hot spots for biodiversity.
The study was published in Cell Press journal Current Biology.
(Posted on 11-04-2014)