A return-on-investment approach for prioritization of rigorous taxonomic research needed to inform responses to the biodiversity crisis

Melville, Jane, Chapple, David F., Keogh, J. Scott, Sumner, Joanna, Amey, Andrew, Bowles, Phil, Brennan, Ian G., Couper, Patrick, Donnellan, Stephen C., Doughty, Paul, Edwards, Danielle L., Ellis, Ryan J., Esquerré, Damien, Fenker, Jéssica, Gardner, Michael G., Georges, Arthur, Haines, Margaret L., Hoskin, Conrad J., Hutchinson, Mark, Moritz, Craig, Nankivell, James, Oliver, Paul, Pavón-Vázquez, Carlos J., Pepper, Mitzy, Rabosky, Daniel L., Sanders, Kate, Shea, Glenn, Singhal, Sonal, Wilmer, Jessica Worthington, and Tingley, Reid (2021) A return-on-investment approach for prioritization of rigorous taxonomic research needed to inform responses to the biodiversity crisis. PLoS Biology, 19 (6). 3001210.

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Abstract

Global biodiversity loss is a profound consequence of human activity. Disturbingly, biodiversity loss is greater than realized because of the unknown number of undocumented species. Conservation fundamentally relies on taxonomic recognition of species, but only a fraction of biodiversity is described. Here, we provide a new quantitative approach for prioritizing rigorous taxonomic research for conservation. We implement this approach in a highly diverse vertebrate group—Australian lizards and snakes. Of 870 species assessed, we identified 282 (32.4%) with taxonomic uncertainty, of which 17.6% likely comprise undescribed species of conservation concern. We identify 24 species in need of immediate taxonomic attention to facilitate conservation. Using a broadly applicable return-on-investment framework, we demonstrate the importance of prioritizing the fundamental work of identifying species before they are lost.

Item ID: 70350
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1545-7885
Copyright Information: © 2021 Melville et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2022 00:33
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410401 Conservation and biodiversity @ 100%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1806 Terrestrial systems and management > 180606 Terrestrial biodiversity @ 80%
28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280102 Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences @ 20%
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