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Usefulness of the Umbrella Species Concept as a Conservation Tool



FULL-TEXT OF THE WHOLE PAPER AVAILABLE AT: ABSTRACT: In the face of limited funding, knowledge, and time for action, conservation efforts often rely on shortcuts for the maintenance of biodiversity. The umbrella species concept - proposed as a way to use species requirements as a basis for conservation planning-has recently received growing attention. We reviewed the literature to evaluate the concept's general usefulness. An umbrella species is defined as a species whose conservation is expected to confer protection to a large number of naturally co-occurring species. This concept has been proposed as a tool for determining the minimum size for conservation areas, selecting sites to be included in reserve networks, and setting minimum standards for the composition, structure, and processes of ecosystems. Among the species suggested as potential umbrellas, most are large mammals and birds, but invertebrates are increasingly being considered. Eighteen research papers, most of which were based on hypothetical reserves or conservation networks, have provided evaluations of umbrella species schemes. These show that single-species umbrellas cannot ensure the conservation of all co-occurring species because some species are inevitably limited by ecological factors that are not relevant to the umbrella species. Moreover, they provide evidence that umbrella species from a given higher taxon may not necessarily confer protection to assemblages from other taxa. On the other hand, multi-species strategies based on systematic selection procedures (e. g., the focal species approach) offer more compelling evidence of the usefulness of the concept. Evaluations of umbrella species schemes could be improved by including measures of population viability and data from many years, as well as by comparing the efficiency of the proposed scheme with alternative management strategies.
Usefulness of the Umbrella Species Concept
as a Conservation Tool
Grims¨o Wildlife Research Station, Department of Conservation Biology, Forest Faculty, Swedish University
of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), SE-730 91 Riddarhyttan, Sweden
†Department of Natural Sciences, Centre for Landscape Ecology, ¨
Orebro University, SE-701 82 ¨
Orebro, Sweden
Abstract: In the face of limited funding, knowledge, and time for action, conservation efforts often rely on
shortcuts for the maintenance of biodiversity. The umbrella species concept—proposed as a way to use species
requirements as a basis for conservation planning—has recently received growing attention. We reviewed the
literature to evaluate the concept’s general usefulness. An umbrella species is defined as a species whose con-
servation is expected to confer protection to a large number of naturally co-occurring species. This concept
has been proposed as a tool for determining the minimum size for conservation areas, selecting sites to be
included in reserve networks, and setting minimum standards for the composition, structure, and processes
of ecosystems. Among the species suggested as potential umbrellas, most are large mammals and birds, but
invertebrates are increasingly being considered. Eighteen research papers, most of which were based on hypo-
thetical reserves or conservation networks, have provided evaluations of umbrella species schemes. These show
that single-species umbrellas cannot ensure the conservation of all co-occurring species because some species
are inevitably limited by ecological factors that are not relevant to the umbrella species. Moreover, they provide
evidence that umbrella species from a given higher taxon may not necessarily confer protection to assemblages
from other taxa. On the other hand, multi-species strategies based on systematic selection procedures (e.g., the
focal species approach) offer more compelling evidence of the usefulness of the concept. Evaluations of um-
brella species schemes could be improved by including measures of population viability and data from many
years, as well as by comparing the efficiency of the proposed scheme with alternative management strategies.
Utilidad del Concepto de Especie Paraguas como Herramienta de Conservaci´on
Resumen: Ante la escasez de financiamiento, de conocimiento y tiempo para actuar, los esfuerzos de con-
on a menudo conf´
ıan en m´
etodos r´
apidos para el mantenimiento de la biodiversidad. El concepto
de especie paraguas - propuesto como una manera de utilizar los requerimientos de las especies como base
para la planeaci´
on de conservaci´
on – ha recibido mayor atenci´
on recientemente. Revisamos la literatura para
evaluar la utilidad general del concepto. Una especie paraguas se define como una especie cuya conservaci´
ıa protecci´
umero de especies que coexisten naturalmente. Este concepto se ha propuesto
como una herramienta para determinar el tama˜
no m´
ınimo de ´
areas de conservaci´
on, seleccionar sitios a
incluir en redes de reservas y para fijar las normas m´
ınimas para la composici´
on, estructura y procesos de los
ecosistemas. La mayor´
ıa de las especies que se sugieren como paraguas potenciales son mam´
ıferos y aves may-
ores, pero se est´
an considerando a los invertebrados cada vez m´
as. Dieciocho art´
ıculos cient´
ıficos, la mayor´
basados en reservas o redes de conservaci´
on hipot´
eticas, han proporcionado evaluaciones de proyectos con
especies paraguas. Estos muestran que una sola especie paraguas no puede asegurar la conservaci´
on de todas
las especies coexistentes porque algunas especies inevitablemente est´
an limitadas por factores ecol´
ogicos que
no son relevantes para la especie paraguas. M´
as aun, proporcionan pruebas de que especies paraguas de un
on alto determinado necesariamente no confiere protecci´
on a los conjuntos de otros taxones. Por otro lado,
estrategias multiespec´
ıficas basadas en procedimientos de selecci´
on sistem´
aticos (por ejemplo, el m´
etodo de la
especie focal) ofrecen evidencia m´
as convincente de la utilidad del concepto. Se debe mejorar la evaluaci´
Paper submitted October 23, 2002; revised manuscript accepted April 21, 2003.
Conservation Biology, Pages 76–85
Volume 18, No. 1, February 2004
Roberge & Angelstam Umbrella Species and Conservation 77
de los proyectos de especies paraguas incluyendo medidas de viabilidad poblacional, datos de muchos a˜
ıcomo comparando la eficiencia del proyecto propuesto con estrategias de manejo alternativas.
Following the emergence of the concept of biological
diversity, conservation biologists showed growing inter-
est in developing shortcuts to the conservation of whole
biota. The umbrella species concept has been proposed
as a way to use species requirements to guide ecosystem
management. Its main premise is that the requirements
of demanding species encapsulate those of many co-
occurring, less demanding species (Lambeck 1997). By
directing management efforts toward the requirements
of the most exigent species, one is likely to address the
requirements of many cohabitants that use the same habi-
tat. The umbrella species concept is intuitively appealing
and offers a simple, ecologically based shortcut for the
management of communities. Yet the assumption that
providing for the requirements of a few species results
in the protection of most species present in the same
area rarely has been addressed rigorously. Indeed, many
authors have recently made a plea for the empirical valida-
tion of this concept (Caro & ODoherty 1999; Simberloff
1999; Angelstam et al. 2001; Fleishman et al. 2001).
Although the umbrella species concept has been dis-
cussed in the biological conservation literature, no com-
prehensive review has been made that allows assessment
of its general utility as a conservation tool. Some authors
have discussed this concept more thoroughly than others
(e.g., Simberloff 1998; Caro & ODoherty 1999; Zacharias
& Roff 2001; Caro 2003), but their accountsalthough
rich in insightdo not cover all its variants or extensively
examine the empirical evidence for its utility. We sought
to (1) review the history of the umbrella species concept
and distinguish its different uses, (2) evaluate the extent
to which the concept has been validated empirically, and
(3) suggest directions for using umbrella species in con-
servation planning.
History and Uses of the Umbrella Species Concept
The exact origin of the umbrella species concept is neb-
ulous. To our knowledge, Frankel and Soul´e (1981) were
the first to use the term umbrella to suggest that con-
servation measures directed at the largest species could
confer protection to what they called denser species.A
few years later Wilcox (1984) proposed that management
focus on those species whose habitat requirements are
at least as comprehensive as that of the rest of the com-
munity,thus providing a protective umbrellafor other
species. Other authors had put forward the same basic
idea before that, although without using the term um-
brella (Eisenberg 1980; East 1981; Mealy & Horn 1981).
Therefore, this concept was probably used implicitly be-
fore it was defined (Caro 2003). The biological conserva-
tion literature from the 1980s includes a number of ref-
erences to the umbrella species concept (e.g., Ehrlich &
Murphy 1987; Murphy 1988; Peterson 1988), but most of
these papers only state the theoretical appeal of that con-
cept without evaluating its validity. Since the beginning
of the 1990s, attention to the umbrella species approach
has grown. Instead of merely discussing the appeal of
this idea, many researchers have critically examined the
potential usefulness of proposed umbrella taxa for man-
agement (e.g., Ryti 1992; Beier 1993; Launer & Murphy
1994; Berger 1997; New 1997; Fleury et al. 1998), and
others have suggested ecologically based methods or cri-
teria for the selection of umbrella species (e.g., Lambeck
1997, 1999; Caro & ODoherty 1999; Fleishman et al.
2000, 2001).
A large number of definitions have been proposed for
umbrella species that emphasize different uses and prop-
erties (Zacharias & Roff 2001). This has resulted in some
confusion about the meaning of the term. Fleishman et al.
(2000) recently suggested a broadly applicable definition
for an umbrella species: a species whose conservation
confers a protective umbrella to numerous co-occurring
species.This definition is somewhat tautological, how-
ever, because it includes the term umbrella. A potentially
consensual alternative could be a species whose conser-
vation confers protection to a large number of naturally
co-occurring species. We use this general definition as a
basis throughout this review and define narrower vari-
ants of the concept in context-specific applications. We
use the phrase umbrella scheme to describe any pro-
posed conservation plan based on one or several umbrella
species. The co-occurring species that are likely to be pro-
tected by conservation activities directed at the umbrella
species are hereafter referred to as beneficiary species.
Several more or less overlapping subconcepts of umbrella
species can be distinguished, all of which conform to our
general definition.
Umbrella Species with Large Area Requirements
In its classic form and at the local scale, the umbrella
species concept refers to the minimum area requirements
of a population of a wide-ranging species (Wilcox 1984).
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78 Umbrella Species and Conservation Roberge & Angelstam
It hinges on the assumption that providing enough space
for species with large area requirements will also shelter
a whole suite of species with more modest spatial needs.
Because organisms with a large body size also tend to
have large home ranges (McNab 1963), maintaining vi-
able populations of those species requires the conserva-
tion of large tracts of habitat. For that reason, large-bodied
organisms have been favored as prospective umbrellas.
Species in this category are usually vertebrates, typically
large mammalian carnivores (Eisenberg 1980; East 1981;
Peterson 1988; Shafer 1990; Noss et al. 1996; Carroll et al.
2001), herbivores (Mealy & Horn 1981; Wallis de Vries
1995; Berger 1997), or birds (Martikainen et al. 1998;
Suter et al. 2002).
Umbrella Species Used to Select Sites
In addition to its use in determining minimum area for
protection, the umbrella species concept has been pro-
posed as a tool for defining reserve networks at larger
geographic scales. In the site-selection umbrella concept,
the occurrence of single- or multi-species umbrellas, or,
alternatively, the species richness of an umbrella taxon, is
used as a basis for the selection of siteshabitat patches,
ecosystems, planning units, or even large grid squares
to be preserved in a conservation network. The general
methodology consists of setting aside for protection the
totality or a given proportion of the sites where the um-
brella(s) occur(s) or where species diversity for the um-
brella taxon is high (Kerr 1997). It is presumed that pop-
ulations of a number of beneficiary species should be
protected in the network (Ryti 1992; Launer & Murphy
1994; Kerr 1997; Fleishman et al. 2000, 2001).
The Extended Umbrella Concept
The umbrella species concept builds on the assumption
that the requirements of demanding species should en-
compass those of many other species (Lambeck 1997).
This assumption is stated explicitly for area needs in the
subconcept of area-demanding umbrella species. But why
should this tool be restricted to area requirements? In a
variant that we would like to call the extended-umbrella
species concept, the basic idea is broadened to include
other attributes of landscapes such as habitat connectiv-
ity, the occurrence of various ecosystem processes, or the
distribution of scarce resources. For example, Fleury et al.
(1998) and van Langevelde et al. (2000) used, respectively,
the California Gnatcatcher (Polioptila californica) and
the European Nuthatch (Sitta europaea) as umbrella bird
species for reserve network planning. Instead of using
only the occurrences or area requirements of these birds
for reserve site selection, they also considered their need
for connectivity. Fleury et al. (1998) did so by simulating
movement corridors to link subpopulations, whereas van
Langevelde et al. (2000) used threshold between-patch
distances for allowing dispersal in the umbrella species.
The underlying assumption here is that landscapes that
are sufficiently connected for the umbrella species should
also be functional for many other species.
Lambeck (1997) gave new life to the umbrella species
idea by extending it to a large range of factors that threaten
species persistence in managed landscapes. He proposed
to identify a suite of focal speciesthat would be used
to define the spatial, compositional, and functional at-
tributes that must be present in a landscape. Lambecks
process involves identifying the main threats and select-
ing focal species among the species that are most sensi-
tive to each threat. The requirements of those species
would then be used to guide conservation or restora-
tion. Thus, the focal species approach is consistent with
the general definition of umbrella species. It simply goes
beyond earlier approaches by addressing habitat quality
and by proposing systematic criteria for the selection of
a suite of umbrella (focal) species. Lambeck (1997)
suggests four threat categories for focal species: area-
limited, resource-limited, dispersal-limited, or process-
limited. Each of these categories should be represented
by one or a few focal species.
By reviewing the conservation biological literature on
the umbrella species concept, we assessed the relative
prevalence of (1) the main variants of the concept and
(2) the different taxa proposed as umbrellas. We exam-
ined biological database information and reference lists
from relevant papers. We only considered papers pub-
lished in English. In this review we included 110 peer-
reviewed articles, book chapters, and papers from con-
ference proceedings that discussed the umbrella species
concept. Papers dealing with this concept without using
the term umbrella were included if they complied with
one of the three variants of the concept described above.
Because we addressed an applied science issue, we also
considered published governmental research papers and
technical reports. We evaluated papers that dealt with
one or more of the three main umbrella categories (Ta-
ble 1). Not surprisingly, mammals, birds, and to a lesser
extentinsects dominate as suggested or evaluated um-
brella species. Although mammals have often been pro-
posed as area-demanding umbrellas, birds and insects
seem to have been preferred for the site-selection and
extended-umbrella concepts.
Evaluating the Umbrella Species Concept
If the umbrella species concept is to be promoted from an
interesting management hypothesis or social hook (Lin-
denmayer & Fischer 2003) to an actual conservation tool,
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Roberge & Angelstam Umbrella Species and Conservation 79
Table 1. The main variants of the umbrella species concept in the biological conservation literature.
Number of papers suggesting or evaluating different taxa
Total no. of papers
Umbrella species category Field of application discussing concept mammals birds herptiles fish invertebrates plants no suggestion or evaluation
Area-demanding umbrella setting the minimum size for
a nature reserve
56 23 6 1 0 0 1 29
Site-selection umbrella prioritizing of patches to be
included in a reserve
15 4 7 1 1 6 3 2
Extended umbrella concept,
including the focal-species
setting minimum values for
landscape composition,
configuration, resources, or
48 8 16 3 1 12 1 24
All categories 110 31 26 5 2 18 4 51
Based on 110 reviewed papers. Rows and columns are not additive because one paper may discuss several umbrella categories and suggest or evaluate species from several taxa.
it is crucial that the approach be validated empirically. A
common remark is that the umbrella species concept has
rarely if ever been tested (Simberloff 1999). Contrary to
classic scientific hypotheses, the umbrella species con-
cept is not subject to falsification (Lindenmayer et al.
2002). Obviously, lack of support for the validity of the
concept in certain conditions does not constitute a proof
of the general invalidity of the tool. Moreover, the results
of such testsusually cannot be classified simply as suc-
cesses or failures in a binary manner, but must rather be
evaluated according to some quantitative measure.
To be considered for empirical evaluation of the um-
brella species concept (Table 2), a study had to fulfill two
criteria. First, it had to present an evaluation of a hypo-
thetical or actual conservation scheme (e.g., spatially de-
limited reserve or network) based on an umbrella species.
Merely describing general patterns of co-occurrence over
an entire region provides information on the indicator
value of the different species but is not sufficient for con-
stituting an evaluation of the umbrella function. Second,
the study had to provide a quantitative measure of the
level of protection conferred to beneficiary species, such
as the number of species represented in the conservation
network or the probability of beneficiary species main-
taining viable populations. Among the 110 research pa-
pers we included in this review, only 18 evaluated the
performance of an umbrella species scheme according to
these criteria.
Evaluations of Area-Demanding Umbrella Species
Most empirical evaluations of the umbrella species con-
cept based on area requirements suggest that it has a lim-
ited effectiveness (Table 2). Noss et al. (1996) investigated
the umbrella value of proposed grizzly bear (Ursus arc-
tos) recovery zones by looking at how many species of
different taxa would have more than 10% of their state-
wide distribution captured by the conservation plan (i.e.,
a surrogate for population viability). Although birds, mam-
mals, and amphibians would be well covered, other taxa
such as reptiles would be underrepresented. A recent
study by Carroll et al. (2001) based on modeling habitat
suitability for the grizzly bear, fisher (Martes pennanti),
lynx (Lynx canadensis), and wolverine (Gulo gulo) il-
lustrated the need for a multi-species approach if those
carnivores are to be used as umbrella species. Unfortu-
nately, these authors only assessed the overlap in prior-
ity areas among those four carnivores and did not evalu-
ate the umbrella function for other species. In an evalua-
tion of the black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis)asanum-
brella species, Berger (1997) used a different approach.
He examined the umbrella value of the rhinoceros for six
large herbivore species by calculating the frequency with
which the mean population size for each species would
be maintained at a given level within the area needed by
the rhinoceros population. Annual differences in rainfall
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Volume 18, No. 1, February 2004
80 Umbrella Species and Conservation Roberge & Angelstam
Table 2. Evaluations of the usefulness of different types of umbrella species for conservation planning.
Umbrella species Investigated umbrella
category and citation Ecosystem type taxon/taxaaTargeted beneficiary taxa Protection conferredb
Area-demanding umbrella
Noss et al. 1996 Rocky Mountains, northern
grizzly bear, Ursus arctos
amphibians, reptiles, birds,
mammals, and plant
Berger 1997 African desert black rhinoceros, Diceros
bicornis (S)
six large herbivore species limited
Martikainen et al.
boreal forest, Fennoscandia White-backed
Dendrocopos leucotos
threatened saproxylic
Andelman & Fagan
diverse regions of the
continental U.S.
large carnivores of concern
species of concernfrom
various taxa
limited to ineffective,
depending on databases
and on surrogate scheme
Andelman & Fagan
diverse regions of the
continental U.S.
most widespread species
of concern, from diverse
taxa (M)
species of concernfrom
various taxa
limited to ineffective,
depending on databases
and on surrogate scheme
Caro 2001 East African deciduous
forests, floodplains, and
large mammals (M) small, nonvolant mammals ineffective
Suter et al. 2002 alpine coniferous forests,
Capercaillie, Tetrao
urogallus (S)
birds effective for red-listed
mountain birds;
ineffective for bird
diversity in general
Caro 2003 East African deciduous
large mammals (M) large and middle-sized
mammals, small
carnivores, small native
rodents and insectivores
effective for large and
middle-sized mammals as
well as small carnivores;
ineffective for rodents
and insectivores
Site-selection umbrella
Murphy & Wilcox
high-elevation boreal
habitats separated by
arid scrub; canyon
riparian habitats,
western North America
birds and mammals (M) butterflies limited to effective,
depending on spatial
Ryti 1992 islands and canyons of
southwestern U.S.
plants and birds (M) plants, birds, mammals,
and reptiles
limited (birds) to effective
Launer & Murphy
serpentine soil-based
grasslands, southwestern
bay checkerspot butterfly,
Euphydryas editha
bayensis (S)
plants limited
Kerr 1997 North America north of
mammalian carnivores (M) invertebrates ineffective
Andelman & Fagan
diverse regions of the
continental U.S.
habitat specialists of
concern, from diverse
taxa (M)
species of concernfrom
various taxa
limited to ineffective,
depending on databases
and on surrogate scheme
Fleishman et al.
mountain canyons in the
Great Basin, western U.S.
butterflies (M) butterflies effective
Fleishman et al.
coastal chaparral
shrubland; eastern
broadleaf forest; xeric
shrub steppe, North
butterflies and birds (M) butterflies and birds effective within taxa;
limited across taxa
Poiani et al. 2001 mixture of grassland and
forest, northern U.S.
Greater Prairie Chicken,
Tympanuchus cupido
rare plants and animals,
natural communities
Rubinoff 2001 coastal sage scrub,
southwestern U.S.
California Gnatcatcher,
Polioptila californica (S)
three specialized insect
species (Lepidoptera)
Bonn et al. 2002 southern Africa threatened and/or endemic
birds (M)
birds limited
Extended umbrella species concept
Fleury et al. 1998 coastal sage scrub,
southwestern U.S.
California Gnatcatcher (S) plant and animal species of
Watson et al. 2001 temperate woodland
remnants, southeastern
Hooded Robin,
Melanodryas cucullata,
and Yellow Robin,
Eopsaltria australis (M)
woodland birds effective with ideal
guidelines; limited with
less stringent guidelines
adapted to the social
aAbbreviations: S, single-species umbrella; M, multispecies umbrella.
bInterpretation (by the authors of this review) of the original authorsconclusions. The protection conferred by the umbrella scheme was
summarized in three classes: effective, limited, and ineffective.
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Roberge & Angelstam Umbrella Species and Conservation 81
caused fluctuations in population size and movements
for the six species, but the rhinoceros populations did
not vary accordingly. Berger (1997) concluded that the
population of 28 rhinoceroses was unlikely to assure the
populations of the other species in excess of 250 individ-
In East Africa, Caro (2001, 2003) observed that pop-
ulations of edible ungulates and small carnivores were
lower outside than inside a national park designed for
large mammals. On the other hand, average species diver-
sity and abundance of small mammals were greater out-
side than inside the reserve. Based on these observations
he concluded that delineating a reserve using umbrella
species may benefit populations of some background taxa
but by no means all. As discussed by Caro (2001), in such
studies it is crucial to consider the identity of the potential
beneficiary species in addition to their richness and abun-
dance. Attention should be given to the species of con-
cern that are sensitive to human disturbances (e.g., Fleury
et al. 1998; Lambeck 1999; Andelman & Fagan 2000). In
an assessment of the potential of the Capercaillie (Tetrao
urogallus) as an umbrella species, Suter et al. (2002) ex-
amined separately the umbrella effect for all bird species
and for mountain species of concern included in the Swiss
Red List. The distribution of the capercaillie was related
to high species richness in mountain birds of concern,
but this was not the case when ubiquitous bird species
were included in the analyses.
Suter et al.s (2002) study provided one of the few ex-
amples of substantial support for the concept of area-
demanding umbrella species. This is explained by the
fact that they considered variations in vegetation struc-
ture in their study area and addressed the question of
whether the potential beneficiary species had, as a group,
specialized habitat requirements similar to those of the
umbrella species. Similarly, Martikainen et al. (1998) pro-
vided evidence for the potential umbrella value of the
White-backed Woodpecker (Dendrocopos leucotos)for
threatened beetles dependent on the same resources
that is, decaying deciduous wood within successional
deciduous forest. Contrary to the approaches of Suter
et al. (2002) and Martikainen et al. (1998), however, most
other approaches to the concept of area-demanding um-
brella species have been based coarsely on the area re-
quirements of the purported umbrella species without
attention to the habitat needs of the potential beneficiary
Evaluations of Site-Selection Umbrella Species
The different evaluations of the site-selection umbrella
concept have yielded varied results (Table 2). Murphy
and Wilcox (1986) demonstrated that the validity of
vertebrate-based management for maintaining butterfly
diversity is scale dependent. They concluded that re-
gional management of vertebrates would probably pro-
vide for the requirements of invertebrates, but that inten-
sive fragmentation on a local scale may cause declines in
invertebrates without affecting vertebrates. Kerr (1997),
however, provided evidence that a hypothetical system
of large-scale reserves designed to include all carnivore
species in a minimum of sites would not provide good pro-
tection for invertebrates. For gulf islands and canyons in
California, Ryti (1992) found that a reserve network con-
taining at least one occurrence of all plant species found in
the regional pool covered vertebrates well, whereas such
a network for birds did not provide equivalent protection
for other taxa. However, the plant network required set-
ting aside an area much larger than the area needed for
the bird network. Thus, the relative performance of these
two taxa as umbrellas surely would have been different
had issues of efficiency been considered.
Using occurrence data for species of concern from a
variety of taxa, Andelman and Fagan (2000) evaluated a
variety of site-selection umbrella schemes and compared
their efficiency to that of random sets of species. Only
a few umbrella schemes proved more efficient than ran-
dom schemes made up of similar numbers of species. On
this basis, they concluded that there is little evidence sup-
porting the utility of umbrella species. One limitation of
their study is that they automatically included in a given
surrogate scheme all species in the databases that fulfilled
the selection criteria for that scheme. For example, their
habitat specialistscheme was based on the occurrences
of all habitat specialist species found in the databases, re-
sulting in the need to set aside a very large proportion
of the sites. Many such schemes performed well in terms
of species protection but were excessively costly (and
thereby less efficient) because they required too many
conservation areas. Hence, these authors showed that
multi-species schemes might fail to provide an efficient
management alternative if the suite of umbrella species
were selected without addressing issues of parsimony or
complementarity. In Southern Africa, Bonn et al. (2002)
simulated complementary networks representing threat-
ened and endemic birds with the minimum possible num-
ber of conservation areas and assessed whether many
other bird species would be conserved in these areas.
These networks performed better than random schemes,
although they did not guarantee the representation of
overall species diversity.
Fleishman et al. (2001) evaluated different site-selec-
tion umbrella strategies of butterflies and birds and com-
pared their efficiency to that of random schemes. They
ranked species according to their value as umbrellas based
on three criteria: medium rarity, sensitivity to human dis-
turbance, and percentage of co-occurring species (Fleish-
man et al. 2000). Their multispecies umbrella schemes
proved to be efficient conservation tools that allowed the
area to be set aside for achieving a given level of species
protection to be minimized. Launer and Murphy (1994),
Poiani et al. (2001), and Rubinoff (2001) assessed the
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Volume 18, No. 1, February 2004
82 Umbrella Species and Conservation Roberge & Angelstam
validity of a butterfly, a tetraonid bird, and a passerine
bird as single-species umbrellas for plants, rare animals
and plants, and invertebrate species, respectively (Table
2). They came to a common conclusion: single species are
unlikely to function as effective site-selection umbrellas
for the protection of other taxonomic groups.
Most of those researchers used the occurrences of the
umbrella species as a basis for reserve site selection and
assumed complete data sets. It is possible that some of the
recorded absences of the umbrella species were due to
imperfections of the inventory technique. In such cases,
the planner would fail to include some of the sites that
should actually be set aside for protection. On the other
hand, incomplete data sets on the occurrences of the po-
tential beneficiary species would result in an underesti-
mation of the efficiency of the umbrella scheme.
Evaluations of the Extended Umbrella Concept
The extended umbrella concept has rarely been eval-
uated (Table 2). Fleury et al. (1998) designed a hypo-
thetical reserve for the California Gnatcatcher, including
corridors to connect subpopulations and buffer zones.
It afforded only limited protection to red-listed animal
and plant species because some species required local-
ized habitat types or had area needs larger than those
of the gnatcatcher. Thus, this species alone cannot pro-
vide the basis from which to derive minimum standards
for landscape attributes in this coastal sage scrub ecosys-
tem (see also Rubinoff 2001). Similarly, proposed re-
serves for the Northern Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis)
in the Pacific Northwest were insufficient to conserve
Marbled Murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus) and
some aquatic ecosystems (summarized in Franklin 1994;
Wilcove 1994), which is not surprising given that the
owl lives on land. Bonn and Schr¨oder (2001) and Ranius
(2002) partially evaluated the potential of carabid beetles
as umbrella species. Although these researchers provided
evidence for the indicator value of their target beetle
species, they did not (contrary to the studies included in
Table 2) evaluate any hypothetical conservation scheme
based on their prospective umbrella species.
The focal species approach has been only partially val-
idated. The focal species selection process has been ap-
plied in a few case studies in Australia (Lambeck 1999;
Brooker 2002), Italy (Bani et al. 2002), and the United
States (Hess & King 2002), but these investigations did
not include evaluation of the umbrella function of the se-
lected species. In eastern Australia, Watson et al. (2001)
proposed concrete guidelines for conservation planning
based on the needs of sensitive birds and modeled the
probability of occurrence of different species in rem-
nants of various size and habitat complexity. They con-
cluded that their revegetation guidelines would provide
habitat for about 95% of the resident woodland birds in
the region.
Evaluations of the subconcept of area-demanding um-
brella species provide little support for its utility for the
conservation of biodiversity as a whole. Conservation
schemes based uniquely on area requirements will in-
evitably be flawed unless they also incorporate the needs
of sensitive species requiring specialized habitat types.
The site-selection umbrella species concept, on the other
hand, appears more useful. The umbrella value of single
species is generally low because some species are lim-
ited by ecological factors that are not relevant to the
umbrella species. However, rigorous assessments using
multiple species and systematic selection criteria show
that umbrella species can be an effective tool for pri-
oritizing remnants to be included in conservation net-
works (e.g., Fleishman et al. 2000, 2001). The extended-
umbrella species concept has rarely been evaluated. Lam-
becks (1997) focal species approach has been assessed
only partially, and it remains to be seen whether land-
scapes designed for the most sensitive suite of species
can retain nearly all co-occurring species.
What would constitute a robust, empirical evaluation
of the umbrella species concept? The examples provided
above stress the need to measure the efficiency of the
umbrella schemethat is, to present the results in the
form of a ratio of the benefits (e.g., number of species or
habitat types protected) to the costs (e.g., total area or
number of sites required). This allows for comparison of
the efficiency of the umbrella scheme with that of alter-
native strategies. A number of researchers have looked
at whether the umbrella schemes performed significantly
better than random schemes or null models (Andelman
& Fagan 2000; Fleishman et al. 2001; Poiani et al. 2001).
Although this makes sense from a statistical point of view,
one may wonder whether more ecologically relevant cri-
teria could be used instead. For instance, comparing the
effectiveness of an umbrella scheme with that of measures
based on general ecological principles would be much
more informative from a management perspective (Poiani
et al. 2001). Examples of such measures could be restora-
tion of a nominated proportion of a landscape to create a
variety of patches of the main native land types, planning
for corridors between isolated patches, and restoration of
watercourses and associated riparian vegetation (Hunter
1999; Lindenmayer et al. 2002).
Another limitation of many evaluations of the umbrella
species concept is that they often rely on presence and
absence snapshotdata without distinguishing between
viable or extinction-prone populations (Ryti 1992; Andel-
man & Fagan 2000; Fleishman et al. 2001; but see Berger
1997; Fleury et al. 1998; Bonn et al. 2002). In landscapes
where fragmentation is a relatively recent phenomenon,
some populations in remnants may be sinks or transients
(Watson et al. 2001). Moreover, metapopulation theory
predicts that a number of suitable patches are unoccupied
Conservation Biology
Volume 18, No. 1, February 2004
Roberge & Angelstam Umbrella Species and Conservation 83
at any point in time (Hanski 1999). Therefore, data cov-
ering many years is preferable for assessing the viability
of the (sub)populations and increasing the likelihood of
including all suitable habitat in the conservation network.
Moreover, because many species vary in their habitat re-
quirements at different times of the year, surveys should
ideally cover more than one season.
Finally and most important, none of the studies listed in
Table 2 (except Caro 2001, 2003) provides a direct evalu-
ation of the basic assumption of the umbrella species con-
cept, to show that the conservation measures directed at
the umbrella species actually protect many other species.
Their conclusions are based on hypothetical reserves or
conservation networks derived from current species dis-
tributions, which in turn are dependent on the current
structures of landscapes. Hence, they do not demonstrate
that the implementation of the conservation schemes in
the real world would give the same results. This remains
the greatest challenge in evaluating the umbrella species
concept. In that respect, investigations such as Caros
(2001, 2003) based on data from existing protected ar-
eas and their surroundings are of great interest.
Directions for Using Umbrella Species
in Conservation Planning
A frequent criticism of the umbrella species concept is
that it is improbable that the requirements of one species
would encapsulate those of all other species (Noss et al.
1997; Basset et al. 2001; Hess & King 2002). Evaluations
of the utility of single-species umbrellas have shown con-
vincingly that they do not offer total coverage for whole
communities (Table 2). Hence, there is a need for multi-
species strategies as a means to broaden the width of
the protective umbrella (e.g., Miller et al. 1998; Fleish-
man et al. 2000, 2001; Carroll et al. 2001). Among the
different multi-species approaches, Lambecks (1997) fo-
cal species approach seems the most promising because
it provides a systematic procedure for selection of um-
brella species (Lambeck 1999; Watson et al. 2001; Bani et
al. 2002; Brooker 2002; Hess & King 2002).
What qualities should a dream teamof focal species
possess to be a dependable tool of biodiversity assess-
ment and conservation planning? First, it should cover
the main ecosystem or landscape types of concern in a re-
gion (Angelstam 1998a, 1998b; Hess & King 2002). Here
it might be argued that simply conserving all landscape
types would constitute a more straightforward alterna-
tive. However, given the need to establish concrete and
quantitative landscape design criteria, it is essential to re-
fer to the requirements of the species to know how much
is enough (Hansen et al. 1993; Lambeck 1997, 1999; An-
gelstam et al. 2003). For each landscape type, the most
sensitive group of species in terms of resources, area
requirements, connectivity, and natural processes (e.g.,
fire and flooding regimes) should be selected (Lambeck
1997). Depending on the context of application, the suite
of focal species may need to represent a range of spatial
scales from bioregions and landscapes (Lambeck 1999) to
localized habitats and microhabitats (M¨uhlenberg et al.
1991). In forested landscapes, for example, birds and
mammals may include species that are among the most
sensitive to threatening factors operating at landscape and
bioregional scales (Lambeck 1999), whereas species of in-
vertebrates and nonvascular plants could be among the
most sensitive to threats operating at finer spatial scales
(Angelstam 1998a; Ranius 2002).
One shortcoming of the focal species approach lies in
the difficulty of identifying the most sensitive species for
each threat, given that many taxa are still poorly known
(e.g., invertebrates) (Lindenmayer et al. 2002; Linden-
mayer & Fischer 2003). Moreover, there is an obvious
lack of data about requirements that are difficult to study
quantitatively, such as dispersal (Koenig et al. 1996). New
knowledge on habitat thresholds for the persistence of
sensitive species (Fahrig 2001) will contribute to filling
those gaps. In the face of incomplete data, one can use
expert judgment obtained through workshops or surveys
(Lambeck 1999; Hess & King 2002).
Lindenmayer et al. (2002) assert that a ridiculously large
number of species may be needed and that this would ren-
der the focal species approach inefficient. Although this
certainly may be true in ecologically complex landscapes
such as those found in Australia (Clark 1990), develop-
ment of umbrella strategies based on a suite of species
may be attempted in simpler systems, such as boreal re-
gions. Yet it remains that multi-species umbrella strategies
require more data than do classic applications of single
area-demanding umbrellas. In situations where time is lim-
ited, a philosophy of adaptive management should be ad-
vocated (Walters 1986) whereby strategies based on such
multi-species umbrellas are implemented in some case
studies and are later improved or rejected as more knowl-
edge becomes available. In any case, such an approach
would represent a significant conservation shortcut com-
pared with species-by-species management or planning
for habitat re-creation after further destruction.
Species are going extinct at unprecedented rates, even
if we ignore the possibility of a considerable extinction
debt (Pimm et al. 1995; Hanski & Ovaskainen 2002). The
urgency of the situation leaves no room for paralysis by
overanalysis(sensu Carroll & Meffe 1994). It is no longer
legitimate to assert that the umbrella species concept has
not been tested and therefore should not be applied.
Although there is little evidence for the usefulness of
Conservation Biology
Volume 18, No. 1, February 2004
84 Umbrella Species and Conservation Roberge & Angelstam
single-species umbrellas selected only on the basis of their
large area requirements, some multi-species schemes con-
sidering the occurrence of a range of habitat types and
landscape attributes offer promising conservation av-
enues. Using the umbrella species concept could there-
fore provide an appealing and sound approach for rapid
The umbrella species concept is not a panacea. Even
the most sophisticated umbrella schemes probably can-
not guarantee the protection of absolutely all species. The
real issue, however, is whether the umbrella species con-
cept constitutes an effective conservation tool compared
with alternative methods. If used alone, general guide-
lines based on the conservation of the main native land
types would be difficult to implement because they do
not provide clear estimates of how much is needed of
different ecological attributes. On the other hand, the ex-
tended umbrella species concept provides explicit and
quantitative guidelines that could be useful for the as-
sessment of status and trends as well as for conserva-
tion planning. In the face of incomplete knowledge about
species requirements and ecosystem processes, the pre-
cautionary principle advises us to employ a combination
of methods. The umbrella species concept deserves con-
sideration as one of these.
A list of references for the literature summarized in Table 1
is available on request from the authors. We are grate-
ful to H. Andr´en, V.-A. Angers, M. B´elisle, T. M. Caro, L.
Gustafsson, L. Imbeau, G. Jansson, E. Main, G. Mikusin-
ski, M.-A. Villard, and two anonymous reviewers for their
comments on the manuscript. Financial support during
work on this review was provided by scholarships from
the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council
of Canada (NSERC) and Helge Axson Johnsons Fund to
J.-M.R., as well as grants from the World Wildlife Fund and
Mistra to P.A.
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Conservation Biology
Volume 18, No. 1, February 2004
... With an umbrella approach, conservation actions aimed at one species is assumed to benefit co-occurring species. Often, umbrella species have large habitat requirements (Caro, 2003;Caro and O'Doherty, 1999;Roberge and Angelstam, 2004;Yamaura et al., 2018;Zhang et al., 2020). Keystone species have a larger impact on the ecosystem than is expected just based on their abundance or biomass. ...
... Several reviews have discussed the usefulness of surrogates or tested certain types of surrogates in specific contexts (e.g., Branton and Richardson, 2011;Caro et al., 2005;de Oliveira et al., 2020;Eglington et al., 2012;Gao et al., 2015;Landres et al., 1988;Westgate et al., 2014). Some of them question the usefulness of surrogates in biodiversity conservation (e.g., de Morais et al., 2018;Favreau et al., 2006;Roberge and Angelstam, 2004;Westgate et al., 2014). However, given the lack of feasible alternatives, the widespread usage of surrogates is unlikely to stop (Caro et al., 2005;Lindenmayer and Likens, 2011;Zhang et al., 2020). ...
... Conservation actions aimed at a species with certain habitat requirements are assumed to preserve the habitat of cooccurring species with less demanding requirements. Such requirements include large area requirements, and requirements for connectivity (Caro, 2003;Caro and O'Doherty, 1999;Roberge and Angelstam, 2004;Yamaura et al., 2018;Zhang et al., 2020). ...
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Preserving biodiversity requires extensive information on species distributions and effectiveness of conservation actions. A surrogate approach, where a small number of species act as surrogates for broader groups of species, can simplify this task. Types of surrogates include indicator, umbrella, keystone and flagship species, and using diversity of higher taxonomic levels to represent species diversity. An overview of the empirical evidence of the usefulness of surrogates as a conservation tool is missing. We synthesised knowledge on if and when surrogate species are useful by systematically searching for meta-analyses and literature reviews assessing this. Results from 34 reviews revealed weak correlations between diversity of indicator species and other species and that umbrella species were not consistently useful for prioritising conservation actions. However, diversity of higher taxonomic levels can be representative of species diversity. No reviews have assessed the usefulness of keystone or flagship species. Thus, surrogate taxa often do not represent biodiversity or threatened species, and conservation actions aimed at surrogates might not necessarily benefit other species. However, surrogates are more likely to be useful when using a higher-taxon approach, when strong ecological similarities exists between a surrogate and other species, when surrogates are used at regional or landscape rather than local scales, and when using sets of multiple species as surrogates. As some use of surrogate species will always be necessary, surrogates should be carefully selected and their usefulness and cost-effectiveness should be assessed, including the risk that conservation actions aimed at that surrogate have unintended effects on other species.
... Although this research aims to identify the ecological value of landfills in SEQ, studies have suggested the need for a single-species approach to address the site identification problem (Branton & Richardson, 2011;Roberge & Angelstam, 2004;Rubinoff, 2001). As all species differ in territory size, range, and dispersion pattern, selecting what is known as an umbrella (or keystone) species is a useful proxy (Roberge & Angelstam, 2004;Schlagloth et al., 2018;Thompson, 2015). ...
... Although this research aims to identify the ecological value of landfills in SEQ, studies have suggested the need for a single-species approach to address the site identification problem (Branton & Richardson, 2011;Roberge & Angelstam, 2004;Rubinoff, 2001). As all species differ in territory size, range, and dispersion pattern, selecting what is known as an umbrella (or keystone) species is a useful proxy (Roberge & Angelstam, 2004;Schlagloth et al., 2018;Thompson, 2015). Generally, for the selection of an umbrella species, priority is given to a species that has the highest environmental requirements and, in this case, is significantly affected by land clearing in the study area (Nikolakaki, 2004). ...
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Post-closure care of landfills is intended to reduce adverse impacts on the surrounding environment, and an important component of this process is capping. Landfills represent large areas of land that cannot be built on, and commercial use of landfill after closure has a lot of challenges. It is common for landfill sites to be green spaces initially and subsequently transformed into recreational parks or sports fields in highly populated regions. The emergence of phytocapping as a demonstrated and regulatory accepted alternative capping technology has led to a focus on ecological rehabilitation as a viable after-use for landfills due to their inherent characteristics that are similar to a natural system. Ecological rehabilitation is seldom considered a possible after-use for landfills, even though most landfills end up vegetated in the long term. Identification of ecological value present in a location is highly valuable to drive the decision-making process and, in turn, improve connectivity, ecological health, and biodiversity of a region. This study employs Koalas as an umbrella species to assess the ecological value and connectivity potential of a landfill. By using the Koala as a representative species, this research aims to evaluate the broader ecological implications and connectivity opportunities associated with a landfill site. This study uses buffer analysis and overlay analysis for preliminary identification of the potential for landfills in Koala habitat creation and connectivity. The majority of landfills in the South East Queensland (SEQ) region exhibit significant potential for ecological value through rehabilitation efforts. The findings demonstrate that landfill rehabilitation can be used to provide habitat for threatened species and improve the connectivity of bio-corridors. To maintain environmental sustainability, ecological conservation, and ecological connectedness, regulators and stakeholders are advised to place a stronger emphasis on landfill after-use. The results show why ecological rehabilitation should be given higher emphasis in the waste management industry and point to the missed opportunity for habitat creation, connectivity, expansion and increase of green space.
... Here, we confirmed the presence of the Neotropical Otter in a secondary forest that is in the process of self-regeneration, and was previously subject to agriculture, logging, and cattle ranching about 50 years ago, showing that The knowledge of the species distribution and their demographic parameters (such as population size, density, mating system, and dispersion) are some of the most important factors for conservation (Rondinini et al., 2011). Carnivores, like Lontra longicaudis and Pteronura brasiliensis (Giant Otter), play important roles in ecosystems because they are at the top of the food chain (Miller et al., 2001;Roberge & Angelstam, 2004). These species have a similar distributional range in the Amazon and are under similar threats like deforestation, illegal mining, land use change, and infrastructure building (Mendoza et al., 2017;Rheingantz et al., 2014Rheingantz et al., , 2017Gallice et al., 2019). ...
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Lontra longicaudis Olfers, 1818 is a widely distributed species in North, Central and South America. They are categorized as Near Threatened by the IUCN, but they are not under legal protection in Peru, where their documentation has been limited. Here we present occurrence data of this species inside the Manu Learning Centre biological station, in the Manu Biosphere Reserve from the period 2012-2022, and a suggestion about how to assess this species in the future, using already existing legal regulations.
... Efforts to understand resources required to support multiple species led to the use of umbrella, flagship, and keystone species as indicators of ecological integrity (Caro & O'Doherty, 1999;Wilcox, 1984). However, researchers and managers have long been concerned that managing for the needs of a single species, even if carefully chosen, may not address the needs of multiple co-occurring species (see Roberge & Angelstam, 2004;Simberloff, 1998). Successful multi-species management becomes even more complex when management actions prioritize one ecosystem over another. ...
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Effective wildlife management requires robust information regarding population status, habitat requirements, and likely responses to changing resource conditions. Single-species management may inadequately conserve communities and result in undesired effects to non-target species. Thus, management can benefit from understanding habitat relationships for multiple species. Pinyon pine and juniper (Pinus spp. and Juniperus spp.) are expanding into sagebrush-dominated (Artemisia spp.) ecosystems within North America and mechanical removal of these trees is frequently conducted to restore sagebrush ecosystems and recover Greater Sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus). However, pinyon-juniper removal effects on non-target species are poorly understood, and changing pinyon-juniper woodland dynamics, climate, and anthropogenic development may obscure conservation priorities. To better predict responses to changing resource conditions, evaluate non-target effects of pinyon-juniper removal, prioritize species for conservation, and inform species recovery within pinyon-juniper and sagebrush ecosystems, we modeled population trends and density-habitat relationships for four sagebrush-associated, four pinyon-juniper associated, and three generalist songbird species with respect to these ecosystems. We fit hierarchical population models to point count data collected throughout the western United States from 2008 to 2020. We found regional population changes for 10 of 11 species investigated; 6 of which increased in the highest elevation region of our study. Our models indicate pinyon-juniper removal will benefit Brewer's Sparrow (Spizella breweri), Green-tailed Towhee (Pipilo chlorurus), and Sage Thrasher (Oreoscoptes montanus) densities. Conversely, we predict largest negative effects of pinyon-juniper removal for species occupying early successional pinyon-juniper woodlands: Bewick's Wren (Thryomanes bewickii), Black-throated Gray Warblers (Setophaga nigrescens), Gray Flycatcher (Empidonax wrightii), and Juniper Titmouse (Baeolophus ridgwayi). Our results highlight the importance of considering effects to non-target species before implementing large-scale habitat manipulations. Our modeling framework can help prioritize species and regions for conservation action, infer effects of management interventions and a changing environment on wildlife, and help land managers balance habitat requirements across ecosystems.
... In contrast, umbrella species are generally species with large ranges and specific habitat requirements for which restoration and protection of their preferred habitat benefits many other cooccurring species (Roberge & Angelstam 2004, Caro 2010, Thornton et al. 2016, Ward et al. 2020. The effectiveness of umbrella species depends on their spatial range overlap with other species of conservation concern and their ability to protect the habitat quality and viability of other sympatric species of conservation interest (Branton & Richardson 2014, Breckheimer et al. 2014. ...
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Habitat alteration and climate change are important threats to terrestrial biodiversity in the tropics. Endorsing flagship or umbrella species can help conserve sympatric biodiversity, restore degraded ecosystems and achieve United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). The Ethiopian wolf ( Canis simensis ) is a rare and endemic Ethiopian canid. It is Africa’s most endangered canid species and is restricted to several isolated patches of Afroalpine habitats. While its behavioural ecology and conservation biology have been well studied, studies of the Ethiopian wolf’s significance for the conservation of its habitat and sympatric species are lacking. Here we use geographical range overlap and geospatial modelling to evaluate the importance of the Ethiopian wolf as a flagship and/or umbrella species. We assess whether conservation interventions targeting the Ethiopian wolf could help to restore and protect Afroalpine habitat and conserve sympatric species whilst simultaneously providing a wide range of socioeconomic and environmental benefits. We found that Ethiopian wolves share their range with 73 endemic and/or threatened vertebrate species, 68 of which are Afroalpine ecosystem species, and at least 121 endemic and/or threatened plant species. Ethiopian wolves are taxonomically distinctive and charismatic species classified as Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Thus, they meet both the flagship and umbrella species criteria to restore Afroalpine habitats and conserve threatened sympatric species. A conservation strategy protecting and restoring Afroalpine habitat has the potential to contribute to achieving at least five of the 17 UN SDGs. The protection of flagship and umbrella species should be integrated into broader regional biodiversity and habitat conservation.
... In addition, certain PACs in Montana and Wyoming have been identified as 'connectivity areas' specifically to conserve known migratory pathways for sage-grouse. However, research has also found that indices of sage-grouse occurrence and abundance can be equivocally (Carlisle & Chalfoun, 2020;Smith et al., 2021) or negatively-associated (Carlisle et al., 2018) with other sagebrush-obligate species of similar conservation concern, particularly at fine spatial scales, highlighting a common criticism that surrogate species approaches inherently result in gaps for the individual requirements of members across the entirety of wildlife communities (Roberge & Angelstam, 2004). ...
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Mapped representations of species−habitat relationships often underlie approaches to prioritize area‐based conservation strategies to meet conservation goals for biodiversity. Generally a single surrogate species is used to inform conservation design, with the assumption that conservation actions for an appropriately selected species will confer benefits to a broader community of organisms. Emerging conservation frameworks across western North America are now relying on derived measures of intactness from remotely sensed vegetation data, wholly independent from species data. Understanding the efficacy of species‐agnostic planning approaches is a critical step to ensuring the robustness of emerging conservation designs. We developed an approach to quantify ‘strength of surrogacy’, by applying prioritization algorithms to previously developed species models, and measuring their coverage provided to a broader wildlife community. We used this inference to test the relative surrogacy among a suite of species models used for conservation targeting in the endangered grasslands of the Northern Sagebrush Steppe, where careful planning can help stem the loss of private grazing lands to cultivation. In this test, we also derived a simpler surrogate of intact rangelands without species data for conservation targeting, along with a measure of combined migration representative of key areas for connectivity. Our measure of intactness vastly outperformed any species model as a surrogate for conservation, followed by that of combined migration, highlighting the efficacy of strategies that target large and intact rangeland cores for wildlife conservation and restoration efforts.
... Butterfly population studies have greatly helped in assessing and restoring ecosystems' health [24]. Several studies have identified the significance of indicator species [25][26][27], where multispecies groups have proved to be good indicators of biotope quality. This study focused on butterflies of tropical dry forests and their correlations with microhabitat conditions to assess their ecosystem sustainability. ...
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Understanding the factors that influence the diversity and distribution of butterfly species is crucial for prioritizing conservation. The Eastern Ghats of India is an ideal site for such a study, where butterfly diversity studies have yet to receive much attention. This study emphasized the butterfly assemblages of three prominent habitats in the region: open forests, riparian forests, and dense forests. We hypothesized that riparian forests would be the most preferred habitat for the butterflies, as they provide suitable microclimatic conditions for butterflies. The study collected samples for 35 grids of 2 × 2 km 2 for each habitat during the dry months (December-June). We considered the relative humidity, temperature, light intensity, elevation, and canopy cover to assess their influences on butterfly richness and abundance. We also considered the impact of disturbances on their distribution. We used structural equation modeling and canonical correspondence analysis to quantify the correlation and causation between the butterflies and their environment. The study recorded 1614 individual butterflies of 79 species from 57 genera and 6 families. During the study, we found that temperature was the most significant factor influencing butterfly richness. Relative humidity was also important and had a positive impact on butterfly richness. Riparian forests, where daytime temperatures are relatively low, were the most preferred microhabitat for butterflies. Open forests had greater species diversity, indicating the critical significance of an open canopy for butterflies. Though riparian forests need greater attention concerning butterfly distribution, maintaining open and dense forests are crucial for preserving butterfly diversity.
... The species-rich areas of the middle and southern sub-regions, where agricultural potential is high, are either unprotected or characterized by small and isolated PAs (Elbakidze et al. 2013). According to many studies (Jansson & Andrén 2003;Roberge & Angelstam 2004;Linnell et al. 2005), it is evident that this spatial bias in PA distribution and size in the Boreal region makes them often insufficient for the protection of focal and umbrella species such as specialized birds and area-demanding mammals (Angelstam et al. 2020). We found a similar situation in the Continental region, where bird alpha diversity was higher in non-PAs. ...
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The Natura 2000 (N2K) protected area (PA) network is a crucial tool to limit biodiversity loss in Europe. Despite covering 18% of EU's land area, its effectiveness at conserving biodiversity across taxa and biogeographic regions remains uncertain. Testing this effectiveness is, however, difficult as it requires considering the non-random location of PAs, and many possible confounding factors. Here, we used propensity score matching accounting for the confounding effects of biogeographic regions, terrain ruggedness, and land cover, when assessing the effectiveness of N2K PAs on the distribution of 1,769 priority species from EU"s Birds and Habitats Directives, including mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, arthropods, fishes, molluscs, vascular and non-vascular plants. We compared alpha, beta, and gamma diversity between matched selections of protected and non-protected areas across EU's biogeographic regions using generalized linear models, generalized mixed models, and non-parametric tests for paired samples, respectively, for each taxonomic group and for the entire set of species. While we found N2K PAs to host significantly more priority species than non-protected land, this difference was not consistent across biogeographic regions and taxa. Total alpha diversity as well as alpha diversity of amphibians, arthropods, birds, mammals, and vascular plants were significantly higher inside PAs than outside, except in the Boreal region. Beta diversity was in general significantly higher inside N2K PAs than outside. Similarly, gamma diversity showed the highest values within N2K PAs, with some exceptions in Boreal and Atlantic regions. The planned expansion of the N2K network, as dictated by the European Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, should therefore target areas in the southern part of the Boreal region, areas with high species diversity of amphibians, arthropods, birds, mammals, and vascular plants, which are currently underrepresented in the N2K network.
... Instead of predicting the impact of global change on all species, conservation and management plans focus on a single species (i. e., an umbrella species, (Roberge and Angelstam, 2004)) with the intent for sympatric species to be concurrently protected. The conservation strategy of an effective umbrella species must therefore represent the conservation needs of sympatric species, and must ideally provide protection from vertebrates to invertebrates (Rubinoff, 2001). ...
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Marine turtles inhabit various coastal and marine ecosystems and play significant ecological roles throughout their life cycles. Because of the significant overlap with other species at risk in their geographic ranges, the successful conservation of marine turtles also protects numerous co-occurring species, a phenomenon known as the “umbrella species effect.” Since several marine turtle populations have shown positive trends, suggesting incipient recovery, it is expected that their umbrella characteristics will coevolve as their populations grow and expand. Recognizing the considerable potential of marine turtles as umbrella species, we advocate for promoting this concept and explicitly integrating it into management and recovery programs. This approach would facilitate concurrent benefits not only for marine turtles but also for other species and their associated habitats. To achieve this goal, we analyzed the conservation status of marine turtles in the Gulf of Mexico and Western Caribbean within the framework of the legal regulations. Additionally, we reviewed the current challenges in marine turtle recovery in the framework of ecological restoration, while also aiming to target and encourage their utilization as umbrella species.
The minimal area of an animal populution is determined by A) the area requirement of reproductive units and B) by the viable population size. A) varies due to individually different and seasonally fluctuating home range sizes and is in addtiion strongly influenced by habitat quality. Population survival depends on deterministic as well as stochastic events and can therefore be estimated only with limited probability. A certain limitation of risk factors can be achieved by enlargement of the population size, increase in number of suitable habitats and reduction of isolation between inhabited areas. To determine the size of a “minimum viable population” (MVP) a “population vulnerability analysis” (PVA) is used as most important data base. The objectives of a MVP (e.g. 95% survival probability for the next 100 years) determines the necessary environmental conditions. A method which allows faster predictions was developed for special demands in practical implementation. A target species should be selected to give qualitative reasons for the protection of areas. Criteria for the selection of target species for conservation were developed which should be modified according to regional conditions. The concept of target species can also be used to quantify the evaluation of habitats scientifically, which is also an important step for management practises. The analysis of the data for selected species demonstrates the high variability of the area requirements, above all due to different habitat quality. For a MVP the area requirement is much higher than so far assumed (e.g. much more than 10 km2 for a passerine species). It is not possible to create a generally valid catalogue for the area requirements of species.
To maintain forest biodiversity, and if necessary to restore it, quantitative goals should be specified for all properties of a given landscape or region. Here an idea is presented on how biodiversity can be assessed in the boreal forest, which has a short history of transformation compared with other European forest types, and how quantitative nature conservation goals can be formulated in different geographical scales. Step 1 is to develop a book-keeping system for biodiversity. The starting point is the identification of the different disturbance regimes found in a natural boreal forest landscape. The links between site type and disturbance regime are critical because they shape the composition and structure of the forests, as well as many important processes, to which forest species have adapted. Step 2 is the development of practical methods to measure biodiversity in a landscape. The first task is to define the different ecological properties that can be found in a naturally dynamic boreal forest landscape as well as to identify species that are unique to each property. If it is possible to translate the species’ habitat requirements into criteria based on their environmental demands, these criteria can be used as opposed to the more costly inventories of certain indicator species in the field. It is important that any system and methods are validated in areas with original biodiversity. In step 3, when sufficient knowledge is available on how the amount of each property affects the viability of its indicator specie’s populations, strategic and operative goals can be formulated for each property representing the composition and structure, in different geographical scales, of naturally dynamic boreal landscapes. To implement this logic in practical management will alleviate the introduction of proactive management as well as monitoring of whether or not quantifiable criteria and indicator species change in the desired direction. The practical implementation is beyond the sphere of research but must be considered when developing methods to assess forest biodiversity.
Studies of the last few hundred years, at appropriate resolutions, are critical for understanding the dynamics of Australian ecosystems before and since European setlement in 1788 and for predicting effects of local, regional and global environmental changes over the next hundred years or so. -from Author