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Conserving the Legacy of Evolution into the Future

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CLEF (Conserving the Legacy of Evolution into the Future)

Reporting period: 2015-09-01 to 2017-08-31

New biodiversity is discovered daily, yet only a sliver of this biodiversity is used in conservation assessments. This overlooked biodiversity is important because it is often the foundation of the ecosystems that humanity depends upon. If only a handful of species are the sole focus of conservation, then we risk missing really important species that better represent the tree of life or functional diversity. The overall objectives of this project are to improve the models that tell us where species are and enable conservation priorities to include different dimensions of biodiversity.
This project has produced advances in understanding how well our biodiversity models predict biodiversity, and specifically shown the importance of considering all species simultaneously in predictive models. I demonstrated this for scales as diverse as small, virtually generated communities to bird, mammals, reptiles and amphibians across Europe. Second, I used a new framework to identify priority areas for biodiversity conservation. This work is being included in high-impact publications including a first-author paper in Nature, is being communicated through my blog, scientific presentations, through popular science publications, and results are included in the Map of Life project (https://mol.org/patterns/facets).
The potential impacts of this project are improving conservation of biodiversity (especially that important to humans) by our own analyses that show which areas of the world should be conservation priorities for species, phylogenetic and functional diversity for all bird and mammal species, and by providing these methods for others to use this framework at a local or regional scale for conservation planning alongside other conservation concerns. This establishes a baseline for future conservation planning, which will hopefully have an imprint on future conservation efforts.
How much of the bird tree of life that could be protected by expanding protected areas by 5%