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Can conservation of single surrogate species protect co-occurring species?

Kang, Dongwei, Yang, Hongwei, Li, Junqing, Chen, Youping
Environmental science and pollution research international 2013 v.20 no.9 pp. 6290-6296
Ailuropoda melanoleuca, biodiversity, endangered species, habitat conservation, habitat preferences, habitats, nontarget organisms
Conservation of surrogate species is expected to benefit co-occurring species with similar distributions that share the same habitat, yet the usefulness of this approach to protect nontarget species has been extensively challenged. In this study, we aimed to assess whether co-occurring species could be afforded protection under the conservation of two proposed surrogate species, the giant panda and the takin. We undertook a thorough study on the habitat requirements of these two endangered species, based on the analysis of their habitat preferences. The results revealed that the giant panda exhibits more specialized habitat preferences than does the takin and that habitat separation between these species mainly reflected differences in their dietary requirements and preferences. We suggest that these differences might facilitate their coexistence in sympatric areas. Meanwhile, results of a discriminant function analysis showed that protection of giant pandas would protect 82.1 % of the panda's habitat, but only 25.4 % of the takin's habitat and just 57.0 % of the joint habitats of these species. Importantly, our results also showed that a joint surrogate species approach to conservation would protect 86.9 % of the panda's habitat, 53.7 % of the takin's habitat, and 72.2 % of the joint habitats of these species. This is a higher degree of habitat protection than the single surrogate conservation of pandas. We conclude that the joint surrogate species approach should be adopted to improve biodiversity conservation.