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Phylogenetic diversity (PD) and biodiversity conservation: some bioinformatics challenges

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Author(s): Daniel P. Faith | Andrew M. Baker

Journal: Evolutionary Bioinformatics
ISSN 1176-9343

Volume: 2;
Start page: 121;
Date: 2006;
Original page

Keywords: phylogenetic | biodiversity | PD | DNA barcoding | invertebrates | species problem

ABSTRACT
Biodiversity conservation addresses information challenges through estimations encapsulated in measures of diversity. A quantitative measure of phylogenetic diversity, “PD”, has been defined as the minimum total length of all the phylogenetic branches required to span a given set of taxa on the phylogenetic tree (Faith 1992a). While a recent paper incorrectly characterizes PD as not including information about deeper phylogenetic branches, PD applications over the past decade document the proper incorporation of shared deep branches when assessing the total PD of a set of taxa. Current PD applications to macroinvertebrate taxa in streams of New South Wales, Australia illustrate the practical importance of this definition. Phylogenetic lineages, often corresponding to new, “cryptic”, taxa, are restricted to a small number of stream localities. A recent case of human impact causing loss of taxa in one locality implies a higher PD value for another locality, because it now uniquely represents a deeper branch. This molecular-based phylogenetic pattern supports the use of DNA barcoding programs for biodiversity conservation planning. Here, PD assessments side-step the contentious use of barcoding-based “species” designations. Bio-informatics challenges include combining different phylogenetic evidence, optimization problems for conservation planning, and effective integration of phylogenetic information with environmental and socio-economic data.

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Tangokurs Rapperswil-Jona

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