Volume XX |

Phylogenetic diversity and EDGE approach in conservation of birds of prey in Europe

Abstract: Biodiversity of our planet is rapidly eliminated, at rates much higher than ever observed in human history. The birds of prey, among others few groups of bird species in Europe, have the highest proportion of threatened and near threatened species per taxonomic group and also, 25% of birds of prey species are experiencing population decline. Today, more than never in our modern life, we have to fight for nature conservation. Our understanding of biological diversity has broadened due to the fact that the use of phylogenies in ecology is increasingly common. If our conservation efforts are directed to maximize the preservation of biodiversity in a broad sense, we have to think beyond species. If we treat the species as evolutionary units, and not like types, our conservation efforts will preserve not only the organism, but the organism capacity to responde to environmental changes. In this paper I aimed to highlight the importance of phylogenetic information in conservation of birds of prey species in Europe through the EDGE approach. This metric has been implemented to prioritise species, beeing the only global initiative to focus on conservation of threatened species with significant amount of unique evolutionary history. Using this approach in conservation, we can be more confident that we will have the potential to preserve more functional trait diversity than expected. The top five birds of prey EDGE species in Europe are: osprey (Pandion haliaetus), the black-winged kite (Elanus caeruleus), the egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus), the european honey-buzzard (Pernis apivorus) and the bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus), according their EDGE scores.