COS 5-5 - Regional evolutionary distinctiveness and endangerment as a means of prioritizing protection of endangered species

Monday, August 8, 2016: 2:50 PM
Floridian Blrm BC, Ft Lauderdale Convention Center


Emily Kay Brantner, Florida International University; John C. Withey, Florida International University


          As biodiversity is disappearing, efforts are being made to save species on the brink of extinction. Conservation is costly, and choices must be made about where to best allocate limited resources.  I propose a regional evolutionary distinctiveness and endangerment (RED-E) approach to prioritization of endangered species.  It builds off of the evolutionary distinctiveness and global endangerment (EDGE) approach, but will allow a government or conservation agency to focus their efforts on only species within their region, and deal with a smaller, more manageable amount of information.  I used the RED-E approach to prioritize mammal and bird species listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA), and compared them to the global EDGE ranking.  Furthermore, I compared the conservation cost of each listed species to the RED-E ranking to look at previous conservation attention.  I also used the RED-E approach to make a ranking of species without ESA critical habitat (CH), as a practical application of the RED-E approach.  


Regional conservation approaches differ significantly from global approaches, and may allow a more focused effort by individual governments and agencies.  Previous conservation attention was not correlated with RED-E.  Using the created critical habitat ranked list, the U.S. government could begin shaping their limited resources around the species that are not only the most endangered, but also the most genetically distinct.  The RED-E approach places a high significance on the level of endangerment of a species, but also allows for very distinct species to have increased prioritization on the RED-E list. Using the CH RED-E list, the U.S. government could begin focusing resources toward endangered and genetically diverse species.