School of Anthropology & Conservation

Excellence in diversity Global in reach

A cutting-EDGE approach to saving
Seychelles' evolutionarily distinct biodiversity


Principal Investigator: Dr Jim Groombridge
Co Investigator: Professor Richard Griffiths
Project Officer: Rachel Bristol
Project dates: October 2012-2015
Funding: DEFRA, Darwin Initiative Fund
UK Project Partners: DICE, University of Kent; EDGE of existence programme, Zoological Society of London; Natural History Museum/University College London; and University of Exeter
Seychelles Project Partners: The Government of Seychelles Ministry of Environment and Energy; Seychelles Islands Foundation; Seychelles National Parks Authority; Natural History Museum of Seychelles; Wildlife Clubs of Seychelles; and Nature Protection Trust of Seychelles


Project aim:

To provide investment, expertise and targeted training in conservation, ecology and taxonomy in order to improve knowledge, management and conservation status of the 12 EDGE (Evolutionarily Distinct & Globally Endangered) species endemic to the Seychelles.


Project overview:

An increasing realisation of the high conservation value of evolutionarily distinct species prompted the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) to develop the EDGE of Existence programme in order to identify and prioritize EDGE species using DNA-based phylogenies to estimate evolutionary distinctiveness, combined with each species' IUCN threat status.

EDGE species are evolutionarily unique 'biological treasures' representing the 'last-of-their-kind'. However, there are challenges associated with conserving them because they are often extremely rare, their biology and taxonomy are often poorly understood and they seldom cluster together geographically to form focal areas for conservation efforts.

Remarkably, the Seychelles is home to 12 currently recognised EDGE species, forming a natural 'EDGE-zone' and presenting a unique opportunity to deliver resources, training and conservation action to conserve these species in a single location.

The EDGE species endemic to Seychelles are: Seychelles sheath-tailed bat Coleura seychellensis; Seychelles black parrot Coracopsis barklyi; Sooglossid frogs (four Sooglossus species, including a newly discovered population on Praslin Island); Cooper's black caecilian Praslina cooperi; and 5 coral species (Anomastraea iregularis, Horastrea indica, Parasimplastrea sheppardi, Catalaphyllia jardinei, Physogyra lichensteini.)

This project is a partnership of UK organisations with specialist expertise and local Seychelles organisations tasked with the conservation of these EDGE species. The project will provide intensive specialist training and support to five local Seychellois biologists embedded in local partner organisations who will each champion a different Seychelles EDGE species/taxonomic group in order to progress the knowledge and conservation of each EDGE species, and simultaneously to build long-term in-country conservation capacity.

This project is funded by The Darwin Initiative.



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Last Updated: 16/09/2015