Measuring more of biodiversity for choosing conservation areas, using taxonomic relatedness

Williams, P. H. (1993)
In: Moon TY, ed. International Symposium on Biodiversity and Conservation (KEI). Seoul. 194-227.



One of the major goals of conservation is the maintenance with only limited resources of as much as possible of the variety of life. If we are to choose among areas in order to protect the greatest overall amount of biodiversity, then we shall need to be able to measure and compare biodiversity among areas. This has usually been measured only in terms of species richness. Diversity also includes a concept of difference, and the degree of difference between organisms can be represented in biodiversity measures using readily available information on group membership from taxonomic classifications. Furthermore, by using the complementarity in species composition between faunas, stepwise procedures can identify optimal sequences of priority areas for biodiversity protection, taking existing protected areas into account or not, as required. In some circumstances it may be possible to apply this approach to higher taxa, rather than to species. This could greatly reduce survey costs, allowing survey effort to be re-deployed to cover much more of overall biodiversity. These methods are illustrated by their application to the bumble bees and milkweed butterflies.