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Spatial mismatch of phylogenetic diversity across three vertebrate groups and protected areas in Europe




We investigate patterns of phylogenetic diversity in relation to species diversity for European birds, mammals and amphibians to evaluate their congruence and highlight areas of particular evolutionary history. We estimate the extent to which the European network of protected areas (PAs) network retains interesting evolutionary history areas for the three groups separately and simultaneously.




Phylogenetic (QEPD) and species diversity (SD) were estimated using the Rao's quadratic entropy at 10′ resolution. We determined the regional relationship between QEPD and SD for each taxa with a spatial regression model and used the tails of the residuals (QERES) distribution to identify areas of higher and lower QEPD than predicted. Spatial congruence of biodiversity between groups was assessed with Pearson correlation coefficient. A simple classification scheme allowed building a convergence map where a convergent pixel equalled to a QERES value of the same sign for the three groups. This convergence map was overlaid to the current PAs network to estimate the level of protection in convergent pixels and compared it to a null expectation built on 1000 randomization of PAs over the landscape.


QERES patterns across vertebrates show a strong spatial mismatch highlighting different evolutionary histories. Convergent areas represent only 2.7% of the Western Palearctic, with only 8.4% of these areas being covered by the current PAs network while a random distribution would retain 10.4% of them. QERES are unequally represented within PAs: areas with higher QEPD than predicted are better covered than expected, while low QEPD areas are undersampled.

Main conclusions

Patterns of diversity strongly diverge between groups of vertebrates in Europe. Although Europe has the world's most extensive PAs network, evolutionary history of terrestrial vertebrates is unequally protected. The challenge is now to reconcile effective conservation planning with a contemporary view of biodiversity integrating multiple facets.

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