Monkeys and toads define priority areas for conservation on a fine geographic scale
Scientific determinations of 25 global "hotspots" - habitats with high concentrations of unique species vulnerable to human activity - are too large to be effectively managed by local conservation authorities, much less put aside as protected areas. Researchers from the Center for Environmental Research and Conservation (CERC) are making even finer geographic distinctions within these hotspots by examining how evolutionary relationships within distantly-related organisms are distributed throughout a shared habitat. Their findings are being published in the scientific journal Evolution.
The research, led by Drs. Ben J. Evans and Don J. Melnick of CERC, a research unit of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, focuses on Sulawesi, the largest island in the Indonesian biodiversity hotspot "Wallacea" that is host to a suite of species found nowhere else in the world. They compared the distribution of genetic diversity in species of macaque monkeys (Macaca spp.) and toads (Bufo celebensis) that exist only on this island.
"There is a critical need to apply scientific technology and translate scientific findings for policy makers and conservation practitioners," said Professor Melnick, who is also CERCs Executive Director. "The approach we outline in this study does just that. It uses molecular methods to identify areas that are genetically and evolutionarily unique across disparate types of organisms, and thus of the highest priority for conservation. In so doing, it translates a general regional conservation concern into a fine scaled blueprint for action."
Mary Tobin | EurekAlert!
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