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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Incorporating phylogenetic information for the definition of floristic districts in hyperdiverse Amazon forests: Implications for conservation

  • Author(s): Guevara Andino, Juan Ernesto
  • Pitman, Nigel C. A
  • ter Steege, Hans
  • Mogollon, Hugo
  • Ceron, Carlos
  • Palacios, Walter
  • Oleas, Nora
  • Fine, Paul V. A
  • et al.

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Using complementary metrics to evaluate phylogenetic diversity can facilitate the delimitation of floristic units and conservation priority areas. In this study, we describe the spatial patterns of phylogenetic alpha and beta diversity, phylogenetic endemism, and evolutionary distinctiveness of the hyperdiverse Ecuador Amazon forests and define priority areas for conservation. We established a network of 62 one‐hectare plots in terra firme forests of Ecuadorian Amazon. In these plots, we tagged, collected, and identified every single adult tree with dbh ≥10 cm. These data were combined with a regional community phylogenetic tree to calculate different phylogenetic diversity (PD) metrics in order to create spatial models. We used Loess regression to estimate the spatial variation of taxonomic and phylogenetic beta diversity as well as phylogenetic endemism and evolutionary distinctiveness. We found evidence for the definition of three floristic districts in the Ecuadorian Amazon, supported by both taxonomic and phylogenetic diversity data. Areas with high levels of phylogenetic endemism and evolutionary distinctiveness in Ecuadorian Amazon forests are unprotected. Furthermore, these areas are severely threatened by proposed plans of oil and mining extraction at large scales and should be prioritized in conservation planning for this region.

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