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Conservation of the other 99% is usually best served by the preservation of whole communities rather than of treasured species. Setting priorities for habitat preservation requires development of theory beyond anthropocentrism. A starting point comes from treating the coding DNA of the world’s organisms as the ultimate measure of biodiversity. The numbers of genes in different organisms are important, and phylogenetic relationships are crucial. Groups of localities preserving more of the heritable information content are favoured over groups preserving less. Especially for bacteria and soil-dwelling organisms (such as protists and small invertebrates generally), the process should lend itself to automation, via the detection of unseen, even unseeable, organisms through universal primers for the amplification and sequence analysis of ribosomal DNA genes. The approach is illustrated by an analysis of bacterial communities from groundwaters near the sole remaining natural fission reactor, near Oklo, Gabon, showing the importance of statistical sufficiency in biodiversity estimation, the statistical assessment of species numbers, the shortcut potential of Higher Taxon Richness, and the interdependence of sites in determining their conservation worth.

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