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Current Research

We use EDGE Lists to identify priority species and EDGE Zones to highlight priority regions. Our team, in collaboration with leading scientists from around the world, strives to use the latest research to underpin our priority setting for conservation.

 

EDGE Lists

We created the world’s first EDGE list for mammals in 2007, using the then ground-breaking mammal supertree to calculate ED scores. This was followed by the first EDGE Amphibian list in 2008, and updated EDGE Mammal lists in 2010 and 2011. These updates incorporated an updated mammal supertree and included the IUCN’s Global Mammal Assessment. We released an EDGE Coral list in 2011, with an updated list emerging in 2013. The first EDGE Birds list was published in 2014, following the creation of the first species-level phylogeny of all birds. EDGE Reptiles were launched in 2018, in conjunction with an update to all EDGE scores for all EDGE groups. Since 2016 we have begun to update our EDGE lists annually to incorporate the latest data available on the threat status and evolutionary relationships of our focal taxonomic groups.

We are involved to varying degrees in the development of new EDGE lists to expand our taxonomic scope. This includes EDGE lists for sharks, gymnosperms, and other groups. Watch this space!

 

EDGE Zones

In 2013 we developed EDGE Zones, the first spatial EDGE prioritisation for mammals and amphibians. EDGE Zones are hotspots of biodiversity that contain disproportionate amounts of threatened evolutionary history.  This prioritisation is intended to complement and guide our selection of focal species and projects. We aim to promote conservation in areas where we stand to lose a considerable number of EDGE species and an alarming amount of evolutionary history.

We are currently expanding EDGE Zones to include all terrestrial vertebrates. We also plan to develop the first EDGE Marine Zones, which will include marine mammals and reptiles, corals and sharks.

 

Amphibian and mammal EDGE Zones

 

EDGE 2.0

We are currently developing an updated methodology to identify priority EDGE species. This new protocol will incorporate the scientific advances that have taken place following EDGE’s inception in 2007. Read more about the process here.

 

EDGE and Trait Diversity

EDGE species are weird and wonderful. Recent research suggests that, for mammals at least, they are more weird and more wonderful than the average species. However, the relationship between the unique morphological and ecological traits of species (the things that make them weird and wonderful to us), their Evolutionary Distinctiveness (ED), and their extinction risk, remains largely unknown. We are exploring these relationships across a wide range of species to try and understand what makes EDGE species so unique.

We are exploring the relationship between ecological traits, ED, and extinction risk

 

Ecological Research

Our EDGE Fellows undertake research projects around the world, often the first dedicated studies of their EDGE species. Their research provides novel insights into the distribution, ecology and behaviour of their focal species. These findings inform conservation actions for EDGE species. In addition, we support long-term conservation projects on focal EDGE species and conduct ambitious expeditions to search for rare and elusive species on the EDGE of Existence.

 

 

Get Involved in EDGE Science

We are happy to work with anyone interested in using the EDGE lists or carrying out research that could benefit EDGE species. We can offer some supervisory support to Masters and PhD students who undertake projects related to EDGE, and we have ongoing collaborations with researchers around the world. If you are a student or researcher looking to undertake EDGE-related research, or would like to collaborate on any of our existing projects, please contact the EDGE team.

 

Previous Student Research Projects

Phylogenetic distribution of threat-types among three mammalian orders – Rob Haines (University College London)

Ecological survey of the Sagalla caecilian (Boulengerula niedeni) on Sagalla Hill, Kenya – David Barrington Marquis (Imperial College London)

Phylogenetically and spatially-based conservation prioritisation of stony reef-building corals (Scleractinia) – Rachel Balasuriya (Imperial College London)

Using a phylogenetic approach to guide conservation prioritisation: an investigation – Constantinos Charalambous (Imperial College London)

 

Projected loss of Evolutionary Distinctiveness in next 500 years