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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Evolution, biodiversity and extinction

Recently announced news showcases cutting edge research about the importance of inter-related species on the evolutionary family tree, and what the loss of some means to others. (And a tip of the hat to one of the researchers, Pablo Marquet of The Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, showing once again that faith and reason work well together in Catholic universities the world over.)

But to the topic at hand:
The message from the study, appearing online ahead of publication in Ecology Letters, says lead author Hélène Morlon, is that evolutionary diversity -- the millions of years of evolutionary innovations contained in present-day species -- is more sensitive to extinctions or loss of habitat than long thought. And that, she adds, means conservation efforts really need to take into consideration how species are evolutionarily related.
In other words, as policy makers and conservationists work to slow the planet's dizzying array of extinction, it will be helpful to know how evolutionary, genetic relationships may or may not impact biodiversity. It is research like this that will help save humanity (and untold forms of earthly life) from our ignorance and poor choices. After all, God Himself saw His creations as "very good." The least we can do is understand why, and how, the myriad forms of life He created benefit all others, and why, and how, we can save from extinction as much of that very good life possible. 

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