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Nature. 2006 Mar 9;440(7081):212-4. Epub 2005 Dec 28.

Global tests of biodiversity concordance and the importance of endemism.

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Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia, 291 McCormick Road, Charlottesville, Virginia 22904, USA.


Understanding patterns of biodiversity distribution is essential to conservation strategies, but severe data constraints make surrogate measures necessary. For this reason, many studies have tested the performance of terrestrial vertebrates as surrogates for overall species diversity, but these tests have typically been limited to a single taxon or region. Here we show that global patterns of richness are highly correlated among amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, as are endemism patterns. Furthermore, we demonstrate that although the correlation between global richness and endemism is low, aggregate regions selected for high levels of endemism capture significantly more species than expected by chance. Although areas high in endemism have long been targeted for the protection of narrow-ranging species, our findings provide evidence that endemism is also a useful surrogate for the conservation of all terrestrial vertebrates.

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