A recent debate over the usefulness and relevance of the widely usedBiological Species Concept, based on reproductive isolation, versus thePhylogenetic Species Concept, which is centred around identifying thesmallest group with common ancestry, has raised concerns that changingnomenclatural foundations might result in the appearance of previouslyunrecognized patterns of biodiversity.
A recent study, published in the journal Ecography evaluates thissuggestion on a continental scale for the first time, using a datasetthat encompasses the entire bird fauna of sub-Saharan Africa.Identifying 1,572 biological species defined in the African 'Atlas ofSpeciation' and 2,098 phylogenetic species, the study found thatlarge-scale patterns of species richness and endemisms were remarkablyrobust to changes in species concepts. By in-depth analysis, the studywas able to document further complexity within long-recognized centresof endemism.
Both species concepts agree on their view on endemism, withcertain areas acting as "species pumps" and large intervening areasbeing characterised by a predominance of widespread species, whichdistribute themselves in accordance with contemporary environmentalconditions.
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