Incorporating phylogenetic information for the definition of floristic districts in hyper-diverse Amazon forests: implications for conservation

J.E. Guevara, N.C.A. Pitman, H. ter Steege, H. Mogollón, C. Ceron, W. Palacios, N. Oleas, P.V.A. Fine

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Using complementary metrics to evaluate phylogenetic diversity can facilitate the delimitation of floristic units and conservation priority areas. In this study, we describe the spatial patterns of phylogenetic alpha and beta diversity, phylogenetic endemism, and evolutionary distinctiveness of the hyperdiverse Ecuador Amazon forests and define priority areas for conservation. We established a network of 62 one-hectare plots in terra firme forests of Ecuadorian Amazon. In these plots, we tagged, collected, and identified every single adult tree with dbh ≥10 cm. These data were combined with a regional community phylogenetic tree to calculate different phylogenetic diversity (PD) metrics in order to create spatial models. We used Loess regression to estimate the spatial variation of taxonomic and phylogenetic beta diversity as well as phylogenetic endemism and evolutionary distinctiveness. We found evidence for the definition of three floristic districts in the Ecuadorian Amazon, supported by both taxonomic and phylogenetic diversity data. Areas with high levels of phylogenetic endemism and evolutionary distinctiveness in Ecuadorian Amazon forests are unprotected. Furthermore, these areas are severely threatened by proposed plans of oil and mining extraction at large scales and should be prioritized in conservation planning for this region.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)9639-9650
    Number of pages12
    JournalEcology and Evolution
    Issue number22
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


    This work was benefited by the Lewis and Clark Fund from the American Philosophical Society, the Garden Club of America award for Tropical Botany, the National Secretary of Science, and Technology of Ecuador (Senescyt) grant for field research and the Summer Research Award from the University of California, Berkeley. We are also indebted to the Shuar, Shiwiar, Achuar, Waorani, and Kichwa indigenous communities of the Ecuadorian Amazon, without whose support this work would have been impossible to carry out. Milton Tirado, Ophelia Wong, and Rodrigo Sierra collected data for three plots (Juyuintsa, Yutsuntsa and Sawastian). David Ackerly provided valuable suggestions to improve the manuscript. We thank the Ministry of Environment of Ecuador for granting permit MAE-DNB-CM-2015-0017. Garden Club of America, Award in Tropical Botany; SecretarDᴀa de EducaciD唀n Superior, Ciencia,TecnologDᴀa e InnovaciDTo唀pnW, orld Universities program scholarship; American Philosophical Society, Lewis and Clark fund for fieldwork and exploration; Department of Integrative Biology, University of California Berkeley, Summer Research Award

    FundersFunder number
    National Secretary of Science, and Technology of Ecuador
    SecretarDᴀa de EducaciD唀n Superior, Ciencia,TecnologDᴀa e InnovaciDTo唀pnW
    American Philosophical Society
    University of California Berkeley


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