Chapter 6: Selecting Species as Targets for Conservation Planning


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BOOK EXCERPT: “Ultimately, questions such as what type of pattern is required in a landscape, or at what rate a given process should proceed, cannot be answered without reference to the needs of the species in that landscape. Therefore, we cannot ignore the requirements of species if we wish to define the characteristics of a landscape that will ensure their retention” (Lambeck 1997)...This chapter discusses use of surrogate species as shortcuts for developing conservation plans intended to ensure long-term survival of native species and functioning ecosystems within a planning area. We provide a brief overview of the use of surrogate species in conservation planning and include some general suggestions for practitioners seeking to implement this approach. Finally, we propose a new framework for selecting species as targets for site-based conservation planning...Regardless of the limitations, this approach offers an expedited method for selecting a focal species suite to provide a comprehensive and robust conservation umbrella. Although focal species selection is only one of many steps in the conservation planning process, it provides the foundation upon which the ultimate conservation plan is built. A key point to remember is that a broad-scale plan, such as a statewide one, provides a big picture in terms of regional connectivity and core habitat, but actual on-the-ground conservation must be based on planning performed at a finer resolution through hierarchies of scale (Unnasch and Karl, chapter 3). In our experience, on-the-ground conservation activities are most effective when they are based upon bottom-up decisions: local stakeholders need to be empowered to make biologically appropriate conservation decisions. A large-scale plan can provide guidance, but it must be pieced together by devising a multitude of smaller-scale plans using the same overall approach. Using focal species and their habitats as conservation targets can provide a means of transferring plans across scales.


Brent Brock, Landscape Ecologist
Craighead Environmental Research Institute
201 South Wallace Ave., suite B2D
Bozeman, MT 59715
TALK to the Author Author Facebook Page

Eric Atkinson
Marmot's Edge Conservation
Conservation Ecologist & Ecological Farmer
Coon's Age Farm
99 Lovers Ln
Belfry, MT 59008
AUTHOR Website
AUTHOR Publications




Powerpoint/Teaching resources: Selecting Focal Species- BBAR Presentation 2010

Wildplanner: Free Planning Toolbox for ArcGIS INTERACTIVE MAPS of Species (click on thumbnail to pan & zoom, 'view larger' to open window)

Species Mapping/IUCN



3-Scale & Time
4-Land Cover
5-Land Use
6-Focal Species
7-Habitats: Terrestrial
8-Habitats: Marine/Aq
9-Habitat Cores
11-Viability Analysis
13-Climate Change
14-Processes & Tools

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