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Abstract

Species extinction is both a key process throughout the history of life and a pressing concern in the conservation of present-day biodiversity. These two facets have largely been studied by separate communities using different approaches. This article illustrates with examples some of the ways that considering the evolutionary relationships among species—phylogenies—has helped the study of both past and present species extinction. The focus is on three topics: extinction rates and severities, phylogenetic nonrandomness of extinction, and the testing of hypotheses relating extinction-proneness to attributes of organisms or species. Phylogenetic and taxic approaches to extinction have not fully fused, largely because of the difficulties of relating discrete taxa to the underlying continuity of phylogeny. Phylogeny must be considered in comparative tests of hypotheses about extinction, but care must be taken to avoid overcorrecting for phylogenetic nonindependence among taxa.

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/content/journals/10.1146/annurev-ecolsys-063008-102010
2008-12-01
2024-05-23
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  • Article Type: Review Article
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