The earth is facing a biodiversity crisis. Nearly 50% of animal and plant species could disappear within our lifetime. To stem this rapid loss of biodiversity, we'll need to act quickly -- but where should we begin? This news brief, from December 2008, explains how evolutionary history can help us set conservation priorities.
UC Museum of Paleontology
Use this resource to relate evolutionary concepts to the topic of ecosystems and conservation (or get more suggestions for incorporating evolution throughout your biology syllabus). This article includes a video podcast, a set of discussion and extension questions for use in class, and hints about related lessons that might be used in conjunction with this one. Get more tips for using Evo in the News articles in your classroom.
Correspondence to the Next Generation Science Standards is indicated in parentheses after each relevant concept. See our conceptual framework for details.
- Present-day species evolved from earlier species; the relatedness of organisms is the result of common ancestry.
- As with other scientific disciplines, evolutionary biology has applications that factor into everyday life, for example in agriculture, biodiversity and conservation biology, and medicine and health.
- Scientists use multiple lines of evidence (including morphological, developmental, and molecular evidence) to infer the relatedness of taxa.
- Evolutionary trees (i.e., phylogenies or cladograms) portray hypotheses about evolutionary relationships.
- Evolutionary trees can be used to make inferences and predictions.