The main difference between flagship and umbrella species is that a flagship species is a selected species that is raised to support biodiversity conservation in a given social context, whereas an umbrella species is a species chosen to indirectly protect many other species in the same ecological community in biodiversity conservation. Furthermore, a flagship species has to be easy to observe while umbrella species has to co-occur in the targeted biodiversity and has to have a large range of habitat.
Flagship and umbrella species are two types of species chosen to conserve biodiversity. In general, it is difficult to monitor each aspect of biodiversity. Therefore, the above species serve as indicator species in biodiversity conservation.
Key Areas Covered
1. What is a Flagship Species
– Definition, Features, Importance
2. What is an Umbrella Species
– Definition, Features, Importance
3. What are the Similarities Between Flagship and Umbrella Species
– Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Flagship and Umbrella Species
– Comparison of Key Differences
Biodiversity Conservation, Flagship Species, Indicator Species, Umbrella Species
What is a Flagship Species
A flagship species is a type of species chosen to raise support for biodiversity conservation in a particular place or social context. Generally, they are important for the marketing of a conservation effort by serving as an icon or symbol, which helps to gain money and other support. Furthermore, some of the main features of a flagship species include easiness of observing, anthropomorphic features, low taxonomic distance from humans, large body size, publicly perceived extinction threat, etc.
Moreover, some examples of flagship species include Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris), the African elephant (Loxodonta sp.) and the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus), the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), the Golden lion tamarin (Leontopithecus rosalia), etc. On the other hand, there are some locally selected flagship species, including Pemba flying fox in Tanzania, the Chesapeake blue crab in the USA, etc. Chesapeake blue crab, the Pemba flying fox, American bald eagle, and the manatee are the other examples of local flagship species.
What is an Umbrella Species
Umbrella species is a type of species representing the whole ecological community. Therefore, the main feature of an umbrella species is its ecological importance. Generally, it is difficult to determine the conservation status of all species in an ecological community. Therefore, the conservation of an umbrella species will allow the conservation of other species in the ecological community. Hence, the umbrella effect of this type of indicator species provides a simple way to manage the ecological community. For instance, some of the main features of an umbrella species include the large range of habitats, co-occurring target biodiversity, complex habitat requirements, which overlap those of sympatric species, etc.
Moreover, as an example, Northern spotted owls in an old-growth forest is an umbrella species that protect mollusks and salamanders in the same ecosystem. Furthermore, Bay checkerspot butterfly in grasslands is an umbrella species while Amur tigers in the Russian Far East are an umbrella species that protect deer and boar in the same ecosystem.
Similarities Between Flagship and Umbrella Species
- Flagship and umbrella species are two types of indicator species in biodiversity conservation.
- Moreover, both represent a community in a particular ecosystem.
- Therefore, they help to monitor other species in the ecosystem.
Difference Between Flagship and Umbrella Species
Flagship species refers to a species selected as an ambassador, icon or symbol for a defined habitat, issue, campaign or environmental cause while umbrella species refers to a species that have either large habitat needs or other requirements whose conservation results in many other species being conserved at the ecosystem or landscape level.
While flagship species is a species that can support biodiversity conservation in a given social context, umbrella species is a species that can indirectly protect many other species in the same ecological community in biodiversity conservation.
Main Criteria of Selection
Sociocultural considerations are the main criteria of selection of a flagship species while the selection of an umbrella species depends on ecological criteria.
The black rhinoceros, the Bengal tiger, the Asian elephant, Chesapeake blue crab, and the Pemba flying fox are some examples of flagship species while Northern spotted owls in old-growth forest, Bay checkerspot butterfly in grasslands, and Amur tigers in the Russian Far East are the examples of umbrella species.
Flagship species is a type of species that acts as an icon to define a particular habitat. Moreover, this species has to have sociocultural importance. Therefore, it supports biodiversity conservation in a particular social context. On the other hand, umbrella species is a representative species with a wide range of habitats. Therefore, its conservation protects a number of other species in the same ecological community. However, it has to have ecological importance in order to be chosen as an umbrella species. Hence, the main difference between flagship and umbrella species is the type of representation.
1. Kalinkat, Gregor, et al. “Flagship Umbrella Species Needed for the Conservation of Overlooked Aquatic Biodiversity.” Conservation Biology, vol. 31, no. 2, 2016, pp. 481–485., doi:10.1111/cobi.12813.
1. “Bengal tiger, 2005” By Andrewself (talk) – self-made (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Northern Spotted Owl (8434205482)” By Bureau of Land Management – Northern Spotted Owl (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia