Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Body Mass, Extinction, and Conservation Status (Royal Society B)

The following article is not explicitly genetic in nature but is very related to this week's topic. The authors of this article use phylogenetic Bayesian and Maximum Likelihood (ML) statistics to explore the hypothesis that larger body mass is positively correlated with extinction rates in primates. This assumption has been a key tenet underlying analyses on extinction of past primate species, especially in deep time, and relies on the idea that larger bodied primates reproduce less frequently and have lower speciation rates. The extent to which this relationship is corroborated by statistical data has implications for how decisions are made on which extant species warrant special conservation status (e.g. on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species). The authors' data suggest that there is, in fact, no statistical correlation between body size and extinction or speciation, indicating that other factors are better suited to understanding primate species' proneness to extinction or relative population threat in the wild.


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