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The Northern Andean Block harbors high biodiversity, being one of the most important areas in the Neotropics, but the settlement of several human populations has triggered rapid transformations of the ecosystems, leading to the extinction or endangerment of many species. Phylogenetic diversity indices quantify the distinctness between species and, therefore, they are an adequate tool to evaluate conservation priority areas. Here we present a plausible phylogenetic scenario for conservation in the North Andean Block and the contribution of the protected areas to the phylogenetic diversity. Our results showed that the Average Taxonomic Distinctness index had the lowest correlation with richness and therefore it is the most suitable index. We found the highest index values in the areas of Magdalena, Páramo, and Cauca. Endemic species and protected areas did not contribute significantly to phylogenetic diversity. It is preferable to prioritize areas within adjacent and complementary cells, which belong to the upper quantile of the index value.
This paper focuses on preserving the evolutionary history in the northern Andean region. Here we proposed a set of areas for conservation, which will help preserve a significant amount of phylogenetic diversity in the region, strengthening the network of protected areas. We believe this work is of interest to the reader because it provides new perspectives to delimit the protected areas in the Northern Andes, which is a very threatened area. This is a preprint submission to PeerJ Preprints.