A Yale-led research team has developed a new approach to species conservation that prioritizes genetic and geographic rarity and applied it to all 9,993 known bird species.
"To date, conservation has emphasized the number of species, treating all species as equal," said Walter Jetz, the Yale evolutionary biologist who is lead author of a paper published April 10 in Current Biology. "But not all species are equal in their genetic or geographic rarity. We provide a framework for how such species information could be used for prioritizing conservation."
Worldwide, nearly 600 species of birds are currently in danger of becoming extinct as the result of human development pressures and environmental changes. Conserving genetically distinct and threatened species is especially challenging, Jetz said, because many of these are far from species-rich areas that are already being protected