Understanding patterns of biodiversity is essential to developing conservation strategies and monitoring conservation goals, and severe data constraints make surrogate indicators necessary. We used a comprehensive data set of 6959 species of amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals, and vascular plants in terrestrial ecosystems of China to test the correlations among taxa, the utility of surrogates, and the effectiveness of conservation strategies in China. The results showed that the patterns of species richness between terrestrial vertebrates and vascular plants are concordant, except for those patterns between amphibians and birds; patterns of endemism are concordant at the national level; species richness and endemism are congruent, and each class can represent the four remaining classes. The underlying mechanisms responsible for the decline of species, however, are quite diverse, and conservation of one endangered class will not necessarily save the other classes. These results suggest that the extent of congruence varies according to the taxa and measures of diversity that are compared. There is no correlation between the coverage of nature reserves and overall species richness, endemism, or threat, nor between biodiversity investment and species richness, endemism, or threat.
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