Cross-taxonomic potential and spatial transferability of an umbrella species index

Christopher J. Betrus, Erica Fleishman, Robert B. Blair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Validation that conservation of certain species effectively protects a high proportion of co-occurring species is rare. Our previous work has suggested that an umbrella index based on geographic distribution and life history characteristics would maximize the proportion of conspecifics protected per unit area conserved. Using bird and butterfly data from three mountain ranges in the Great Basin, we examined whether umbrella species also would confer protection to species in different taxonomic groups. Further, we addressed the spatial transferability of umbrella species by considering whether species identified as umbrellas in one mountain range would be effective umbrellas in other mountain ranges. Overall, equal proportions of species would be protected using either cross-taxonomic umbrella species or same-taxon umbrella species. Our data suggested that in a given mountain range, umbrella species identified using data from the same mountain range versus a different mountain range would be equally effective. The ability of one set of umbrella species to confer protection to co-occurring species, however, may vary among taxonomic groups and geographic regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-87
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We gratefully acknowledge G.T. Austin, A.J. Bailer, T.O. Crist, J.P. Fay, M.R. Hughes, D.D. Murphy, L.P. Bulluck, and E.E. Porter for help during various phases of this project. Thanks to M.A. Betrus for assistance with data collection and to the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest for logistic support in the field. Support for this research was provided by the Nevada Biodiversity Research and Conservation Initiative, by Miami University, and by the Joint Fire Sciences Program via the Rocky Mountain Research Station, Forest Service, US Department of Agriculture.

Copyright 2008 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Conservation
  • Great basin
  • Spatial transferability
  • Umbrella species

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