• Open Access

Mapping evolutionary process: a multi-taxa approach to conservation prioritization

Authors

  • Henri A. Thomassen,

    1.  Center for Tropical Research, Institute of the Environment, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
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  • Trevon Fuller,

    1.  Center for Tropical Research, Institute of the Environment, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
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  • Wolfgang Buermann,

    1.  Center for Tropical Research, Institute of the Environment, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
    2.  Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
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  • Borja Milá,

    1.  Center for Tropical Research, Institute of the Environment, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
    2.  Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid, Spain
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  • Charles M. Kieswetter,

    1.  Department of Biology, Boston University, Boston, MA, USA
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  • Pablo Jarrín-V.,

    1.  Yasuni Research Station, Escuela de Ciencias Biológicas, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, Quito, Ecuador
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  • Susan E. Cameron,

    1.  Museum of Comparative Zoology and Center for the Environment, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA
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  • Eliza Mason,

    1.  Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
    2.  Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA
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  • Rena Schweizer,

    1.  Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
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  • Jasmin Schlunegger,

    1.  Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
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  • Janice Chan,

    1.  Center for Tropical Research, Institute of the Environment, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
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  • Ophelia Wang,

    1.  Department of Geography and the Environment, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA
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  • Manuel Peralvo,

    1.  Unidad de Biodiversidad y Geografía Aplicada, CONDESAN, Quito, Ecuador
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  • Christopher J. Schneider,

    1.  Department of Biology, Boston University, Boston, MA, USA
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  • Catherine H. Graham,

    1.  Department of Ecology and Evolution, Stony Brook University, New York, NY, USA
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  • John P. Pollinger,

    1.  Center for Tropical Research, Institute of the Environment, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
    2.  Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
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  • Sassan Saatchi,

    1.  Center for Tropical Research, Institute of the Environment, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
    2.  Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA
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  • Robert K. Wayne,

    1.  Center for Tropical Research, Institute of the Environment, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
    2.  Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
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  • Thomas B. Smith

    1.  Center for Tropical Research, Institute of the Environment, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
    2.  Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
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Henri A. Thomassen, Center for Tropical Research, Institute of the Environment, University of California, La Kretz Hall, Suite 300, 619 Charles E. Young Drive East, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1496, USA.
Tel.: +310 267 5132; fax: +310 825 5446; e-mail: hathomassen@ucla.edu

Abstract

Human-induced land use changes are causing extensive habitat fragmentation. As a result, many species are not able to shift their ranges in response to climate change and will likely need to adapt in situ to changing climate conditions. Consequently, a prudent strategy to maintain the ability of populations to adapt is to focus conservation efforts on areas where levels of intraspecific variation are high. By doing so, the potential for an evolutionary response to environmental change is maximized. Here, we use modeling approaches in conjunction with environmental variables to model species distributions and patterns of genetic and morphological variation in seven Ecuadorian amphibian, bird, and mammal species. We then used reserve selection software to prioritize areas for conservation based on intraspecific variation or species-level diversity. Reserves selected using species richness and complementarity showed little overlap with those based on genetic and morphological variation. Priority areas for intraspecific variation were mainly located along the slopes of the Andes and were largely concordant among species, but were not well represented in existing reserves. Our results imply that in order to maximize representation of intraspecific variation in reserves, genetic and morphological variation should be included in conservation prioritization.

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