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Effectiveness of management zoning designed for flagship species in protecting sympatric species


Dr. Sheng Li published a paper on Conservation Biology with collaborator.

Flagship species have been used widely as umbrella species (i.e., species with large home range whose protection often provides protection for sympatric species) in the management of China's nature reserves. This conflation of flagship and umbrella species is best represented by the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) and other large, endangered mammals designated as conservation targets in site selection and planning of reserves. Few empirical studies have tested the effectiveness of flagship species as surrogates for a broader range of sympatric species. Using extensive camera‐trap data, we examined the effectiveness of management zones designated to protect flagship (target) species in conserving sympatric species in 4 wildlife reserves (Gutianshan, Changqing, Laohegou, and Wolong). We tested whether the progression from peripheral to core zones was associated with an increasing habitat association for both target and sympatric species. The distribution patterns of the study species across the zones in each reserve indicated a disparity between management zones and the species’ habitat requirements. Management zone was included in the final model for all target species, and most of them had higher occurrence in core zones relative to less‐protected zones, but zone was not a predictor for most of the sympatric species. When management zone was associated with the occurrence of sympatric species, threatened species generally had higher detections in core zones, whereas common species had higher detections outside of the core zone. Our results suggested that reserve planning based on flagship species does not adequately protect sympatric species due to their specialized habitat requirements. We recommend re‐examining the effectiveness of management zoning and urge a multispecies and reserve‐wide monitoring plan to improve protection of China's wildlife.

Original link: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/cobi.13345