Indicator species – ‘canary in goldmine’ – not good enough

A new research report is out that concludes, quote: “By combing through a public dataset of over 1,000 species and 64 habitats in British Columbia, they were able to compare the surrogacy value of each species — a numerical score based on the association of two species through their use of shared habitats. They found that a mixture of five to 10 game and non-game species offered the best value as surrogates for biodiversity conservation.”

And a bit more, “We discovered what we called an ‘all-star’ team of species for each of the province’s nine wildlife management units, as well as an all-star team for the province as a whole,” says Sarah Falconer, graduate student at Laurentian University and study co-author. “Our findings suggest that if we commit to preserving these collections of species rather than just the charismatic megafauna, we’re likely to achieve much better conservation outcomes.”

This makes sense on so many fronts. I can easily think of a scenario where the change to an ecosystem would impact different species at different times and if the ‘canary’ was not one of the earliest impacted, the signal will be late … as well as the overall interdependence of the different species.

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