Multiple biodiversity facets of Cerrado (Brazilian Savanna) anurans in Brazil are unprotected
The Cerrado is one of the most threatened biomes in Brazil, with little coverage by the Protected Areas network. Amphibians can be a good indicator group for identifying priority areas for conservation in the Cerrado, since they are sensitive to environmental disturbances. Recent proposed conservation plans have considered multiples biodiversity facets in order to protect unique evolutionary processes. This strategy could ensure that a greater amount of evolutionary history and functional diversity is being protected. Yet, most conservation decisions have been based solely on one aspect of biodiversity. We tested for congruence between anuran species richness and their functional and phylogenetic diversity at different Cerrado areas. We used the congruence between different biodiversity facets to propose new Protected Areas in the Cerrado hotspot. We used the database of the Brazilian National System of Biodiversity Research project that has a standard protocol for sampling tadpoles in 16 areas. We selected 15 morphological traits to calculate functional diversity. The phylogenetic diversity was calculated with the total sum of branch lenght and functional diversity was calculated with the total sum of a similarity trait dendrogram. Congruence between the three different diversity metrics was assessed with Kendall’s W coefficient of concordance.
We found no congruence between the three biodiversity facets (W = 0.108, x² = 4.88, P = 0.998). This means that species richness does not predict other complementary facets. Some high species rich areas (Cristalina and Caiapônia) have less phylogenetic diversity than areas with low richness (Alto Paraíso do Goiás and São João da Aliança). Specifically, we found that the Sempre Vivas State Park in Minas Gerais had the highest phylogenetic and functional diversity, followed by an unprotected area located in Southwest Cerrado. Therefore, this area should be legally protected in view of its high values of functional and phylogenetic diversity. Thus, by designing Protected Areas based on traditional biodiversity metrics, such as species richness and endemism could not be the most inclusive conservation strategy, because they cannot identify evolutionary patterns in the landscape and predict what will be the functional consequences of an environmental changing in anuran commnunities. Therefore, the establishment of conservation strategies for Cerrado anuran should consider multiple biodiversity facets. Specifically, we suggest that two unprotected areas in the Northern region and one in the Southwest need urgent policies from the Brazilian authorities.