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Animals 2015, 5(1), 27-40; doi:10.3390/ani5010027

Selecting a Conservation Surrogate Species for Small Fragmented Habitats Using Ecological Niche Modelling

Nocturnal Primate Research Group, Department of Social Sciences, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, OX3 0BP, UK
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Academic Editor: Clive J. C. Phillips
Received: 25 November 2014 / Accepted: 19 December 2014 / Published: 5 January 2015
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Simple Summary

Large “charismatic” animals (with widespread popular appeal) are often used as flagship species to raise awareness for conservation. Deforestation and forest fragmentation are among the main threats to biodiversity, and in many places such species are disappearing. In this paper we aim to find a suitable species among the less charismatic animal species left in the fragmented forests of South-western Sri Lanka. We selected ten candidates, using a questionnaire survey along with computer modelling of their distributions. The red slender loris and the fishing cat came out as finalists as they were both appealing to local people, and fulfilled selected ecological criteria.

Abstract

Flagship species are traditionally large, charismatic animals used to rally conservation efforts. Accepted flagship definitions suggest they need only fulfil a strategic role, unlike umbrella species that are used to shelter cohabitant taxa. The criteria used to select both flagship and umbrella species may not stand up in the face of dramatic forest loss, where remaining fragments may only contain species that do not suit either set of criteria. The Cinderella species concept covers aesthetically pleasing and overlooked species that fulfil the criteria of flagships or umbrellas. Such species are also more likely to occur in fragmented habitats. We tested Cinderella criteria on mammals in the fragmented forests of the Sri Lankan Wet Zone. We selected taxa that fulfilled both strategic and ecological roles. We created a shortlist of ten species, and from a survey of local perceptions highlighted two finalists. We tested these for umbrella characteristics against the original shortlist, utilizing Maximum Entropy (MaxEnt) modelling, and analysed distribution overlap using ArcGIS. The criteria highlighted Loris tardigradus tardigradus and Prionailurus viverrinus as finalists, with the former having highest flagship potential. We suggest Cinderella species can be effective conservation surrogates especially in habitats where traditional flagship species have been extirpated. View Full-Text
Keywords: Cinderella species; flagship; Loris tardigradus tardigradus; Prionailurus viverrinus; Sri Lanka; umbrella Cinderella species; flagship; Loris tardigradus tardigradus; Prionailurus viverrinus; Sri Lanka; umbrella
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Nekaris, K.A.-I.; Arnell, A.P.; Svensson, M.S. Selecting a Conservation Surrogate Species for Small Fragmented Habitats Using Ecological Niche Modelling. Animals 2015, 5, 27-40.

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