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Systematics is the science of diversity, and if we are concerned about …

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Setting conservation priorities
- Systematics and endangered species conservation

We'll come back to this topic and discuss it in more detail later in the course. For now just notice that it might make more sense to devote more conservation attention to taxa that are the last surviving representative of their lineage than to those that are part of a large and speciose group.

  • Tuatara versus other lizards


  • Species in a monotypic genus (Franklinia alatamaha, last seen in wild in 1803) versus a species in a speciose genus (Carex polymorpha, ca. 2000 spp. in genus worldwide)


Clark and May [2] argue that the allocation of research effort is very uneven. Based on a review of 32,000 entries in the Zoological Record, invertebrates account for about 79% of known species worldwide, but only 11% of research articles on conservation while vertebrates account for only about 3% of known species and about 69% of conservation research articles. While this suggests a considerable bias in research effort, Czech et al. [4] argue that allocation of benefits by the U.S. Endangered Species Act follows what would be expected from a political science model based on a combination of public attitudes toward particular taxa (favorable: plants, birds, mammals, fish; unfavorable: reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates) and the number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with an interest in those particular taxa. The large amount of resources devoted to birds, mammals, fish, and tortoises reflects both positive public attitudes and a lot of NGO interest.

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