Arne Mooers, Professor of Biodiversity
Department of Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University
Topic: Hitting the conservation nail with our phylogenetics hammer
Host Lab: Wolkovich
Many evolutionary biologists embraced the idea that phylogenies offered a guide to prioritizing taxa and places for conservation; finally, our work could be put to good use. However, 25 years after Dan Faith formalized the idea (in a paper now cited >1400 times), we still have done little more than talk about it. Drawing on the collective efforts of an ongoing working group, I ask whether we should put the idea to use. So, does more phylogeny lead to more worthwhile stuff – more individual traits useful to us now or in the future, broader collections of traits that contribute to ecosystem services, more aesthetic wellbeing, or more raw materials for future biodiversity production? Key assumptions are shaky, theory is meager, and tests are limited. Perhaps not surprisingly, several links require more understanding of ecology as well as of evolution. In general, I believe phylogeny is a conservation tool whose time may, but has still not yet, come.