- Department of Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
- University of Angers
Fourcade, Yoan; Besnard, Aurelien G.; Secondi, Jean
The concept of umbrella species assumes that concentrating resources on the protection of a single species contributes to the conservation of a suite of species and ecological processes belonging to the same ecosystem. The environmental requirements and geographical distribution of the umbrella species should thus overlap those of the group of targeted species. In western France, the conservation of several large grassland floodplains relies on agri-environmental schemes targeting one single bird species, the corncrake Crex crex. It is considered as an umbrella species but no real assessment of its effectiveness has been carried out so far. We used a two-step methodology to assess the potential of the corncrake to act as an umbrella species by estimating niche overlap in the environmental and geographic space between the main ground-nesting species of the bird community in these grasslands, including the corncrake and four passerines. The five species showed substantial differences in their ecological niches so that their distributions did not perfectly overlap. Overlaps in predicted distributions between pairs of species depended on the threshold used to convert suitability to binary maps. Moreover, the number of species that could be protected by a candidate umbrella species was affected by the overlap criterion of success. Although the corncrake may be used as an umbrella species, it would be outperformed by several passerine species. Our study highlights the potential of using niche overlap to select umbrella species. It also reveals the importance of analysing the sensitivity of outputs when changing thresholds and overlap criteria.
Journal of Avian Biology
2017, Volume: 48, number: 12, pages: 1563-1574