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Data from: The homogenisation of avian morphological and phylogenetic diversity under the global extinction crisis.

Data supporting forthcoming manuscript: Hughes, E.C., Edwards, D.P. & Thomas, G.H. (Forthcoming).   

The homogenisation of avian morphological and phylogenetic diversity under the global extinction crisis. Current Biology.


  

SUMMARY

Biodiversity is facing a global extinction crisis that will reduce ecological trait diversity, evolutionary history, and ultimately ecosystem functioning and services. A key challenge is understanding how species losses will impact morphological and phylogenetic diversity at global scale. Here, we test whether the loss of species threatened with extinction according to the IUCN leads to morphological and phylogenetic homogenisation across both the whole avian class, and within each biome and ecoregion globally. We use a comprehensive set of continuous morphological traits extracted from museum collections of 8455 bird species, including geometric morphometric beak shape data,9 and sequentially remove species from those at most to least threat of extinction. We find evidence of morphological, but not phylogenetic, homogenisation across the avian class, with species becoming more alike in terms of their morphology. We find that most biome and ecoregions are expected to lose morphological diversity at a greater rate than predicted by species loss alone, with the most imperilled regions found in East Asia and the Himalayan uplands and foothills. Only a small proportion of assemblages are threatened with phylogenetic homogenisation, in particular parts of Indochina. Species extinctions will lead to a major loss of avian ecological strategies, but not a comparable loss of phylogenetic diversity. As the decline of species with unique traits and their replacement with more widespread generalist species continues, the protection of assemblages at most risk of morphological and phylogenetic homogenisation should be a key conservation priority. 

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