Evolutionary biology in biodiversity science, conservation, and policy: a call to action
Evolutionary biologists have long endeavored to document how many species exist on Earth, to understand the processes by which biodiversity waxes and wanes, to document and interpret spatial patterns of biodiversity, and to infer evolutionary relationships. Despite the great potential of this knowledge to improve biodiversity science, conservation, and policy, evolutionary biologists have generally devoted limited attention to these broader implications. Likewise, many workers in biodiversity science have underappreciated the fundamental relevance of evolutionary biology. The aim of this article is to summarize and illustrate some ways in which evolutionary biology is directly relevant. We do so in the context of four broad areas: (1) discovering and documenting biodiversity, (2) understanding the causes of diversification, (3) evaluating evolutionary responses to human disturbances, and (4) implications for ecological communities, ecosystems, and humans. We also introduce bioGENESIS, a new project within DIVERSITAS launched to explore the potential practical contributions of evolutionary biology. In addition to fostering the integration of evolutionary thinking into biodiversity science, bioGENESIS provides practical recommendations to policy makers for incorporating evolutionary perspectives into biodiversity agendas and conservation. We solicit your involvement in developing innovative ways of using evolutionary biology to better comprehend and stem the loss of biodiversity.