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      Genetic Diversity and Conservation Units: Dealing With the Species-Population Continuum in the Age of Genomics

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      Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution

      Frontiers Media SA

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          Cryptic species as a window on diversity and conservation.

          The taxonomic challenge posed by cryptic species (two or more distinct species classified as a single species) has been recognized for nearly 300 years, but the advent of relatively inexpensive and rapid DNA sequencing has given biologists a new tool for detecting and differentiating morphologically similar species. Here, we synthesize the literature on cryptic and sibling species and discuss trends in their discovery. However, a lack of systematic studies leaves many questions open, such as whether cryptic species are more common in particular habitats, latitudes or taxonomic groups. The discovery of cryptic species is likely to be non-random with regard to taxon and biome and, hence, could have profound implications for evolutionary theory, biogeography and conservation planning.
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            The integrative future of taxonomy

            Background Taxonomy is the biological discipline that identifies, describes, classifies and names extant and extinct species and other taxa. Nowadays, species taxonomy is confronted with the challenge to fully incorporate new theory, methods and data from disciplines that study the origin, limits and evolution of species. Results Integrative taxonomy has been proposed as a framework to bring together these conceptual and methodological developments. Here we review perspectives for an integrative taxonomy that directly bear on what species are, how they can be discovered, and how much diversity is on Earth. Conclusions We conclude that taxonomy needs to be pluralistic to improve species discovery and description, and to develop novel protocols to produce the much-needed inventory of life in a reasonable time. To cope with the large number of candidate species revealed by molecular studies of eukaryotes, we propose a classification scheme for those units that will facilitate the subsequent assembly of data sets for the formal description of new species under the Linnaean system, and will ultimately integrate the activities of taxonomists and molecular biologists.
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              Adaptive evolutionary conservation: towards a unified concept for defining conservation units.

              Recent years have seen a debate over various methods that could objectively prioritize conservation value below the species level. Most prominent among these has been the evolutionarily significant unit (ESU). We reviewed ESU concepts with the aim of proposing a more unified concept that would reconcile opposing views. Like species concepts, conflicting ESU concepts are all essentially aiming to define the same thing: segments of species whose divergence can be measured or evaluated by putting differential emphasis on the role of evolutionary forces at varied temporal scales. Thus, differences between ESU concepts lie more in the criteria used to define the ESUs themselves rather than in their fundamental essence. We provide a context-based framework for delineating ESUs which circumvents much of this situation. Rather than embroil in a befuddled debate over an optimal criterion, the key to a solution is accepting that differing criteria will work more dynamically than others and can be used alone or in combination depending on the situation. These assertions constitute the impetus behind adaptive evolutionary conservation.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
                Front. Ecol. Evol.
                Frontiers Media SA
                2296-701X
                October 23 2018
                October 23 2018
                : 6
                Article
                10.3389/fevo.2018.00165
                © 2018

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