Top predators as indicators for species richness? : Prey species are just as useful

Roth, T. and Weber, D.. (2008) Top predators as indicators for species richness? : Prey species are just as useful. Journal of applied ecology, Vol. 45, no. 3, pp 987-991.

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Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/dok/A4606278

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1. The use of surrogates to identify protected areas is a common practice in conservation biology. The use of top predators as surrogates has been criticized but recently a strong positive relationship was found between the presence of top predators and species diversity of several taxa. As mentioned by the authors, these striking results need to be assessed on a larger scale. 2. We used data from the Swiss Biodiversity Monitoring Programme and the Swiss breeding bird survey to analyse the use of raptor species as a surrogate for plant, butterfly and bird species richness. For each raptor species, we compared species richness in sites where a raptor species was recorded and compared these sites with the remaining sites in which the raptor species was not recorded. For comparison we conducted the same analyses using tits Parus spp. Tits are common prey species of some raptor species and were the most species-rich generalist genus in our data. 3. We found little justification for a focus on top predators when identifying conservation areas. For bird and plant species richness, raptors were reasonable surrogates for high species richness but no raptor species predicted sites with above-average butterfly species richness. 4. The presence of tit species performed equally as well as the presence of raptor species to predict sites with high species richness of birds and plants, and performed even better for predicting high butterfly species richness. 5. Synthesis and applications. Conservation planners using indicator species should be aware that relationships among higher taxa are complex and depend on the species group and the scale of analysis. As shown with the case of raptors, the usefulness of a biodiversity indicator can vary between adjacent areas even if the same species groups are analysed. We recommend the use of more than one indicator species from different taxonomic groups when identifying areas of high biodiversity.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science
05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Integrative Biologie > Evolutionary Biology (Ebert)
05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Integrative Biologie > Behavioural Ecology (Amrhein)
UniBasel Contributors:Roth, Tobias
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:Blackwell Scientific Publ.
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:27 Feb 2014 15:46
Deposited On:27 Feb 2014 15:46

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