SSC Groups

Phylogenetic Diversity Task Force

Phylogenetic Diversity TF

IUCN SSC Phylogenetic Diversity Task Force Chair: Nisha Owen

Our Aim
To provide leadership and guidance on the inclusion of phylogenetic diversity in conservation strategies. By providing the necessary scientific and technical expertise, we will promote wider adoption and greater understanding of this approach by conservation practitioners, decision-makers, and the public.
Why is PD important?
Phylogenetic diversity (PD) measures the evolutionary history captured by a set of species and therefore describes a fundamental aspect of biodiversity. By conserving PD, we conserve feature diversity and future options for humanity. Current extinction rates imply unprecedented losses of PD across numerous taxonomic groups. We need to incorporate PD in both species-focused and spatial conservation strategies if we are to avoid the impending loss of billions of years of evolutionary history.
Global Recognition
IUCN’s resolution 19 (2012): halting the loss of evolutionarily distinct lineages; recognised that many distinct branches of the Tree of Life are irreplaceable, but at significant risk of extinction, and overlooked by existing conservation prioritisation schemes.
IPBES Global Assessment (2019): recognised phylogenetic diversity as an indicator of one of ‘Nature’s contributions to people’, NCP 18: maintenance of options; and used the EDGE metric to estimate expected PD losses.
Key Objectives

  • Develop and support knowledge-exchange and consultation between academics, practitioners and policy-makers interested in conserving evolutionary history, such as in the CBD Post-2020 Framework, through IPBES, and applied to the KBA prioritisation process.
  • Produce guidance documents that will address current challenges to the use of PD-based metrics (e.g. the EDGE metric) to inform conservation, through consultation with other Specialist Groups, interested academics and practitioners.
  • Compile information on the applied use of PD in conservation around the world to assess the current extent of application of PD-based metrics.
  • Identify gaps in knowledge or application of PD-based metrics and encourage the scientific and conservation community to undertake scientific research and conservation applications to address these.
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