Defining and evaluating the umbrella species concept for conserving and restoring landscape connectivity.
Conserving or restoring landscape connectivity between patches of breeding habitat is a common strategy to protect threatened species from habitat fragmentation. By managing connectivity for some species, usually charismatic vertebrates, it is often assumed that these species will serve as conservation umbrellas for other species. We tested this assumption by developing a quantitative method to measure overlap in dispersal habitat of 3 threatened species-a bird (the umbrella), a butterfly, and a frog-inhabiting the same fragmented landscape. Dispersal habitat was determined with Circuitscape, which was parameterized with movement data collected for each species. Despite differences in natural history and breeding habitat, we found substantial overlap in the spatial distributions of areas important for dispersal of this suite of taxa. However, the intuitive umbrella species (the bird) did not have the highest overlap with other species in terms of the areas that supported connectivity. Nevertheless, we contend that when there are no irreconcilable differences between the dispersal habitats of species that cohabitate on the landscape, managing for umbrella species can help conserve or restore connectivity simultaneously for multiple threatened species with different habitat requirements.
Breckheimer, I; Haddad, NM; Morris, WF; Trainor, AM; Fields, WR; Jobe, RT; Hudgens, BR; Moody, A; Walters, JR
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