From Rachel Cernansky at Nature:
Biodiversity moves beyond counting species
Ecologists are increasingly looking at how richness of traits — rather than number of species — helps set the health of ecosystems.
From the article:
Biodiversity, it states, doesn’t have to be just about the number of a species in an ecosystem. Equally important to keeping an ecosystem healthy and resilient are the species’ different characteristics and the things they can do — measured in terms of specific traits such as body size or branch length.
“Just going for species numbers basically doesn’t allow us to harness all this incredibly rich information we have of how the real world operates,” says Sandra Díaz, an ecologist with Argentina’s National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET) and the University of Córdoba. Still, some experts are concerned. How traits are defined remains a source of debate, and without robust data on trait and species diversity in settings around the world, any choices directed by the approach could turn out to be short-sighted. More.
The move is wise and timely. Better news for the ecology, worse news for textbook Darwinism.
But the reason is tactfully masked by the authors: Species is a bankrupt concept anyway. There is no general agreement on how to classify species or how many species there are. The concept is an obsession of Darwinism (= the Origin of Species) and that obsession hinders evaluation based on actual performance measures.
See also: Nothing says “Darwin snob” like indifference to the mess that the entire concept of speciation is in
Darwinism: Misfits do better than theory predicts The Darwinian understanding of evolution requires the theorist to develop a science-level prediction about what will survive that goes beyond mere tautology. That quest has consistently failed.