Birds as surrogates for biodiversity: An analysis of a data set from southern Québec

Biodiversity and Biocultural Conservation Laboratory, Program in the History and Philosophy of Science, University of Texas at Austin, Waggener 316, Austin, TX 78712-1180, USA.
Journal of Biosciences (Impact Factor: 2.06). 08/2002; 27(4 Suppl 2):347-60. DOI: 10.1007/BF02704965
Source: PubMed


Surrogacy analysis consists of determining a set of biotic or environmental parameters which can be rapidly assessed in the field and reliably used to prioritize places for biodiversity conservation. Whether adequate surrogate sets exist remains an open and relatively unexplored question though its solution is central to the aims of conservation biology. This paper analyses the surrogacy problem by prioritizing places using surrogate lists and comparing these results with those obtained by using more comprehensive species lists. More specifically, it explores (i) the possibility of using bird distributions, which are often easily available, as surrogates for species at risk (endangered and threatened species), which are presumed to be an important component of biodiversity; and (ii) the methodological question of how spatial scale influences surrogate success. The data set analysed, from southern Québec, is one of the most complete biotic data sets available at the regional scale. Contrary to some previous analyses, the results obtained suggest that the surrogacy problem is potentially solvable.

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Available from: Anshu Aggarwal,
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    • "For this reason, the use of surrogates can constitute an efficient and cheaper alternative to assess species richness patterns (Carrascal et al., 2012; Lawton et al., 1998). Despite the distribution of birds is considered a valuable tool in terms of surrogacy, some criticisms were highlighted: (1) some birds are known to be adaptable, and are therefore not good indicators about the first stages of environmental changes (Garson, Aggarwal, & Sarkar, 2002); (2) the spatial scale may have an effect on the performance of bird as surrogates (Bani, Massimino, Bottoni, & Massa, 2006; Garson et al., 2002); (3) some birds are conspicuous than others (Bochio & Anjos, 2012) compromising the capacities as " surrogates " ; and (4) the types of environment from which the surrogate is derived can constrain the predictability of the models (Morelli et al., 2013; Padoa-Schioppa et al., 2006). "
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    ABSTRACT: This work tested the premise that the distribution of a group of few common bird species can be used to predict bird species hotspots in Central Italy. The data on bird observations were collected on 530 sampled sites (150 in cultivated, 150 in forest, 150 in grassland and 80 in urban and peri-urban environments). In each environment, sampled sites with values of bird species richness in the upper than third quartile were classified as high species richness spots (HSRS), while sites with lower bird species richness were classified as non-HSRS (binary classification system). Generalized Linear Models (GLM) were applied using HSRS or non-HSRS as binomial response variable and bird species occurrence was used as the predictor variable. All selected models showed "fair" or "good" capacities to predict the avian hotspots, using only few common birds (4-6) species. However, bird species selected as predictors were different for each environment. In more natural environments (grassland, forest), specialist species were selected, while in most disturbed environments (cultivated and urban) both generalist and specialist species were selected. The results are in agreement with other studies which show how homogenization of bird communities is strongly correlated to landscape disturbance. The findings support the hypothesis that indicators have to incorporate both specialists and generalist’s species simultaneously. Furthermore, the groups of birds selected as surrogates are easy to detect and this makes it possible to involve citizen-science programmes in obtaining data. This approach can be cheap and efficient and can help to significantly speed up the process of assessing ecosystems that might be under threat.
    Journal for Nature Conservation 07/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.jnc.2015.06.006 · 1.65 Impact Factor
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    • "As confirmed by the results of our study, data about plant woody species obtained by forest inventories are important tools to predict the total plant species in temperate ecosystems (Garson et al., 2002; Grenyer et al., 2006; Qian and Kissling, 2010). Given the lower number of woody species, inventory data set are likely to have a higher completeness of recorded species than data for all vascular plant species recorded in the same area by the same number of plots. "
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    ABSTRACT: Despite a considerable effort of scientific community and a huge amount of literature, the capacity to assess and monitor biodiversity at coarser spatial scales in short time periods is still limited. Thus assessing indicator or surrogate information from existing data sets, such as forest inventories, is a challenge for biodiversity management and monitoring. We used two forest data sets (woody plants and all vascular plants) to test whether the diversity of woody plant species can be used as predictor of the diversity of all vascular plant species. Our study was performed in the forests of Liguria, Italy. In order to take into account several levels of community organisation, we calculated different measures of species diversity at different levels of sampling hierarchy for both data sets (alpha, beta and gamma diversity). We used ordinary linear regression to test the predictive power of the diversity measures obtained by the occurrences of woody plant species with respect to those obtained by all vascular plant species. Our results suggest that beta diversity and gamma diversity of woody species can be used to predict the beta diversity and the gamma diversity of all vascular plant species, at different levels of sampling hierarchy, while the alpha diversity of woody species cannot be used to predict the alpha diversity of all vascular plant species. These results point out the importance to consider measures based non only on species richness and to interpret the relation between species richness of woody plants and species richness of all vascular plants taking into account the scale dependence of this relations. Thus, our work demonstrates the feasibility of using data on woody plant species as recorded by forest inventories to predict the diversity patterns of all plant species in forest ecosystems.
    Forest Ecology and Management 06/2015; 345:50-55. DOI:10.1016/j.foreco.2015.02.016 · 2.66 Impact Factor
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    • "Although different approaches will be required in different situations, there may be patterns to the circumstances in which certain approaches can and cannot be used. Going forward, we suggest continued work in data-rich areas to evaluate, with carefully chosen targets and measures of effectiveness, a variety of conservation planning approaches in a variety of ecosystems and at a variety of scales (Ferrier, 2002; Garson et al., 2002; Favreau et al., 2005). Where possible, analyses of population viability and ecosystem integrity should be included. "

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