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Evolutionary distinctness can help save birds from extinction

Last Updated: Saturday, April 12, 2014 - 03:40

Zee Media Bureau

Washington: Scientists said identifying evolutionary distinctness of birds will help them save birds from extinction.

The study, published in Cell Press journal Current Biology, was carried out by a team of international researchers led by Yale University scientists.

“Evolutionary distinctness is a metric that informs about the loss of evolutionary information that the extinction of a given species would cause,” says Walter Jetz of Yale University.

The researchers report that world`s top 50 most evolutionarily distinct bird species include widely distributed and common species such as the osprey and the ostrich, well-known oddities such as the hoatzin and the shoebill, and lesser-known, range-restricted species such as the New Caledonian owlet-nightjar and the Solomon Islands frogmouth.
The list also includes the South American oilbird and the cuckoo roller of Madagascar, which are both separated from the rest of the avian tree of life by more than 65 million years.

Dave Redding of University College London and coauthor said, “evolutionary distinctness helps us identify those species we cannot afford to lose”.
The study shows that use of distinctness measures can provide an objective, effective, and economical way to protect evolutionary diversity and the approach may be particularly useful because information about relationships among species is often much easier to come by than detailed ecological assessments, and evolutionarily distinct species can often be found in places that aren`t well known as hot spots for biodiversity.

With Agency Inputs

First Published: Saturday, April 12, 2014 - 03:40
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