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Biological diversity can be measured using various metrics, but existing knowledge of spatial patterns of diversity is largely based on species counts. There is increasing evidence that trends in species richness might not match trends in other biodiversity metrics, such as morphological diversity. Here, we use data from a large group of Indo-Pacific gastropods (family Strombidae) to show that the species richness of a region is a poor predictor of the morphological diversity present there. Areas with only a few species can harbour an impressive array of morphologies and, conversely, morphological diversity in the most species-rich regions is no higher than in regions with half their taxonomic diversity. Biological diversity in the Pacific is highly threatened by human activity and our results indicate that, in addition to species richness, morphological diversity metrics need to be incorporated into conservation decisions.

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Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

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