Formal Links between Feature Diversity and Phylogenetic Diversity

Kristina Wicke, Arne Mooers, Mike Steel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The extent to which phylogenetic diversity (PD) captures feature diversity (FD) is a topical and controversial question in biodiversity conservation. In this short paper, we formalize this question and establish a precise mathematical condition for FD (based on discrete characters) to coincide with PD. In this way, we make explicit the two main reasons why the two diversity measures might disagree for given data; namely, the presence of certain patterns of feature evolution and loss, and using temporal branch lengths for PD in settings that may not be appropriate (e.g., due to rapid evolution of certain features over short periods of time). Our article also explores the relationship between the "Fair Proportion"index of PD and a simple index of FD (both of which correspond to Shapley values in cooperative game theory). In a second mathematical result, we show that the two indices can take identical values for any phylogenetic tree, provided the branch lengths in the tree are chosen appropriately. [Evolutionary distinctiveness; feature diversity; phylogenetic diversity; shapley value.]

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)480-490
Number of pages11
JournalSystematic Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics


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