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Conserving phylogenetic information: indices, approaches and gaps
There seems to be increased interest in the notion that evolutionary history is worthy of management and conservation (see, e.g. Frishkoff et al. 2014; Diniz-Filho et al. 2013). The basic quantity seems to be “phylogenetic diversity” (PD) or the sum of the edge lengths connecting a candidate set of species (Faith 1992). Given a tree or network, one can produce many measures of current (or expected) (contributions to) PD, and these can be modified by other axes of value and expected costs and benefits of interventions. The technical side of the field seems to me to be in some disarray; there are overlapping terms and definitions, weak connections to other literatures (particularly community ecology), and under-tested assumptions. My presentation will offer little or no new data, but I will draw on the work of others in an attempt to partially organize the technical side of the field as I see it. Key issues concerning mapping traits and geographic scale are taken up in the following two presentations in this series.