What are Umbrella Species and why is it crucial to conserve them?
All the species on earth have the right to co-exist with human beings. Unfortunately, the current pace of extinction is 1,000 to 10,000 times greater than the natural extinction rate. Hundred million distinct species coexist with humanity, from which 10,000 to 100,000 species become extinct each year.
But, it is practically impossible to save every endangered species from the verge of extinction.
Conserving umbrella species is the most effective way to tackle this.
What are umbrella species?
A particular species that represent a large ecosystem when it comes to conservation is called the umbrella species. Other species that are part of their ecosystem will be passively protected with these species. An umbrella species are always chosen to manage the ecosystems with less biodiversity or more endangered species.
The Umbrella Effect
It is the conservation extended to the other species within the umbrella species habitat to manage the ecological community effectively. It is explained based on s the degree of a species' impact on other nearby species as a result of conservation efforts in the area. It is a faster and cheaper yet effective approach towards the notion of conservation.
Umbrella species can be either plants or animals that protect the other. The majority of umbrella species are listed on the IUCN Red List as endangered or threatened; therefore, conserving them can lead to the conservation of their whole habitat.
The best example of the umbrella species is the wild tigers of Rajasthan. Along with their conservation, species like leopards, boars, hares, antelopes, and monkeys were also protected under the 'conservation umbrella.'
So by protecting a single umbrella species, hundreds of other species around them are been saved. It's the equivalent of running multiple conservation projects at the same time cost-effectively.
Some other umbrella species are:
- Giant Panda
- Andean bear
- Magellanic Woodpecker
- Blue Wildbeast