Menu

Species definitions and conservation

Northern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium cottoni)

The nature of species, especially as applied to large mammals, is of major concern in conservation.

Jan Robovský co-authored a paper that  examines how reliance on different concepts of the species category holds major impacts on the knowledge informing conservation decisions. The paper consideres a few case studies, the Northern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium cottoni), the African forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis), giraffes (Giraffa spp.), and klipspringers (Oreotragus spp.).

Robovský and his colleagues asserted that species are in essence evolutionary lineages, and that the most effective way of recognising them is by their diagnosability, i.e. the so-called Phylogenetic Species Concept. They further asserted that the amount of genetic distance is not a relevant datum for distinguishing species, and that the ability to interbreed is not relevant.

Groves, C. P., Cotterill, F. P. D., Gippoliti, S., Robovský, J., Roos, C., Taylor, P. J., & Zinner, D. (2017). Species definitions and conservation: a review and case studies from African mammalsConservation Genetics, 1-10.