Loss of evolutionary history is a major concern within the broader biodiversity crisis. We now have a useful calculus for measuring various aspects of loss of evolutionary history, based on the PD (phylogenetic diversity) measure. Essentially, any conventional species-level index may have its counter-part at the level of evolutionary features, based on PD measures. PD related calculations include complementarity and endemism indices. More recently, workers in microbial ecology have pioneered the use of "PD-dissimilarities" to compare samples based on molecular phylogenetic trees. These patterns link to environmental gradients explaining patterns of turnover in phylogenetic composition. This quantification of biodiversity patterns may provide a way to integrate genetic/phylogenetic diversity into an emerging global scale biodiversity observation network, GEO BON.
We show that Generalised Dissimilarity Modelling (GDM) methods can extend the geographic coverage of PD dissimilarities and form a basis for a form of monitoring within GEO BON called the "lens" approach. In this strategy, time series of remotely sensed changes in condition of land/water is interpreted through the "lens" of a biodiversity surface for the planet. The strategy also provides a monitoring approach to detect human impacts and a method for design of new surveys to maximise observation of new elements of biodiversity. Within GEO BON, a new working group has begun activities to explore case studies implementing these new approaches.