Nonrandom extinction leads to elevated loss of angiosperm evolutionary history
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The phylogenetic clustering of extinction may jeopardize the existence of entire families and genera, which can result in elevated reductions of evolutionary history (EH), trait diversity, and ecosystem functioning. Analyses of globally threatened birds and mammals suggest current extinction threats will result in a much higher loss of EH than random extinction scenarios, while the analyses of the taxonomical distribution of regionally rare plants find the opposite pattern. The disproportionately high number of rare plant species within species-rich families potentially suggests that lower losses of plant EH will be sustained than expected under random extinction. We show that at a global scale, this is not the case. Species-poor (especially monotypic) angiosperm families are more often at risk of extinction than expected. Because these high-risk species-poor families are as evolutionarily distinct as other families, the expected family-level EH plausibly lost in the next 100 years exceeds that predicted from random extinction by up to ~1165 million years.
- RESEARCH: Wilson, JRU