The potential of phylogenies to safeguard human well-being

ID: 613 / 322

Category: Abstract

Track: Pending

Proposed Symposium Title: The potential of phylogenies to safeguard human well-being


Rafael Molina-Venegas

Affiliations: 1. Department of Ecology, Faculty of Science, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, 28049, Spain. 2. Biodiversity and Global Change Research Center (CIBC-UAM), Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, 28049, Spain.


The idea that conserving evolutionary history is more efficient than species-based approaches for capturing biodiversity benefits to people has remained largely theoretical since the early 1990s. These benefits may not necessarily be currently known or realized benefits but ‘option values’, that is, benefits that are yet to be discovered or demanded by future generations, which hampers assessing the long-standing hypothesis that preserving the main branches of the Tree of Life (i.e. high levels of phylogenetic diversity) would help to safeguard human well-being. However, it is reasonable to assert that known benefits today were at one point in human history unknown future options. Hence, proving that current benefits of biodiversity (i.e. the ‘option values’ of past generations) are to a great extent provided by subsets of taxa that encapsulate high levels of phylogenetic diversity could serve as a proof of concept on the relationship between evolutionary history and future options. Adhering to this reasoning, some recent studies have begun to yield empirical evidence supporting the theoretical background, thus opening an exciting avenue of research to further investigate the complex relationship between biodiversity and human well-being.

Symposia selection: 8, ,

Key words: biodiversity; ethnobiology; human well-being; phylogenetic diversity; useful species