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Forskningsartikel - Refereegranskat, 2022

Can pikas hold the umbrella? Understanding the current and future umbrella potential of keystone species Pika (Ochotona spp.)

Sumbh, Ojaswi; Hof, Anouschka R.


The umbrella species concept is a frequently used concept in conservation since the conservation of an umbrella species may benefit other species. Keystone species are often suggested as potential umbrella species, but the validity of this approach remains uncertain. Moreover, climate change can have a multidirectional effect on the distribution of species, in which the distribution of umbrella species can be affected differently than that of beneficiary species. The validity of applying the umbrella species concept in conservation may thus be jeopardised by climate change. This study assessed the potential of two keystone species, the plateau pika (Ochotona curzoniae) and the Daurian pika (Ochotona dauurica), to be umbrella species for 13 potentially beneficiary species under current and future environmental conditions. Of these 13 species, five currently only co-occur with the plateau pika, five only with the Daurian pika, and three with both pika species. Current and future distributions of the pika species and potentially beneficiary species were predicted using bioclimatic and land-use variables. Range overlaps, Pearson correlations, niche similarity tests and relative suitability tests were performed to assess the umbrella potential of both pika species. Our results show that at present, both pika species may be considered to be umbrella species, benefitting several co-occurring species. However, species that currently co-occur with both pika species will not benefit from conservation of either of the pikas in the future years under climate change scenarios. The plateau pika loses its potential to act as umbrella species for two of the four species which currently may benefit. We can conclude that keystone species like pikas can act as umbrella species for carefully selected potentially beneficiary species under current conditions. Due to climate change related shifts in species distributions, they may however lose their umbrella species status in the future, which should be considered when selecting species conservation strategies.


Species distribution modelling; Climate change; Plateau pika; Daurian pika; Keystone species; Umbrella species

Publicerad i

Global Ecology and Conservation
2022, Volym: 38, artikelnummer: e02247
Utgivare: ELSEVIER

    Globala målen

    SDG13 Climate action

    UKÄ forskningsämne

    Climate Research

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