Print this page

Diversity analyses: distribution and ecogeographic diversity of priority CWR

What is an ecogeographic study and why it is needed?

It involves the collation of occurrence data for the priority CWR, followed by the analysis of these data in order to understand the patterns of diversity within and among priority CWR taxa (hotspot analysis, ecogeographic diversity etc.). An ecogeographic survey is defined as “an ecological, geographical, taxonomic and genetic information gathering and synthesis process, where the results are predictive and can be used to assist in the formulation of collection and conservation priorities” (Maxted et al. 1995). The results obtained from these analyses will assist the formulation, establishment and implementation of conservation priorities through: (i) production of (predicted) species distribution maps, (ii) assessment of sampling biases, (iii) characterization of the priority CWR at ecogeographic level, (iv) identification of areas for in situ conservation of priority CWR (hotspots, complementarity areas etc.) and (v) identification of populations of priority CWR that contain unique genetic diversity that is not already conserved ex situ and, once identified, this material may be collected and conserved in the appropriate genebanks.

Ecogeographic analyses are generally based on the collation of information from herbarium specimens, genebank accessions, databases, literature and all other possible data sources. If possible, they should be complemented by the collection of novel occurrence data, particularly if the taxon is poorly known.

This method has become routine and is now commonly applied to conservation planning, it is also becoming increasingly sophisticated and detailed due to the development of tools such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) (see the Box below on ecogeographic studies for more information). However, it should be stressed that using ecogeographic analysis is always sub-optimal, wherever possible it is better to use genetic diversity analyses  [1] rather than using ecogeography as a proxy for genetic diversity.

Web Address of the page:

Links in this page