Development of the Focal Species Approach for Biodiversity Conservation in the Temperate Agricultural Zones of Australia

Authors: Freudenberger, David1; Brooker, Lesley2

Source: Biodiversity and Conservation, Volume 13, Number 1, 200401 , pp. 253-274(22)

Publisher: Springer

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Lambeck (Conservation Biology 11: 849–856, 1997) proposed a multi-species approach for defining the landscape attributes and management practices required to meet the conservation requirements of biota. The suite of species which are identified as being most sensitive to a range of threats are termed the ‘focal’ species. The critical requirements with respect to each threat are used to define the amount and configuration of habitats that must be present in the landscape. We briefly review the application of the approach in the temperate agricultural zones of eastern and Western Australia. To date, the application of the approach has generally been limited to a reduced set of threats and primarily one taxonomic group – sedentary woodland and shrubland birds. Insufficient habitat patch size, isolation, lack of connectivity, and degraded patch quality (e.g., loss of understorey) have been the key threatening processes analysed through the focal species approach. The approach has been used to develop spatially explicit revegetation guidelines and landscape enhancement scenarios for various non-government organisations and farmer groups actively involved in management of native vegetation. We conclude that the focal species approach is a useful starting point for nature conservation in that it provides explicit recommendations rather than general principles. The approach allows the transparent and repeatable derivation of spatially explicit predictions for at least a single broad taxon such as sedentary woodland birds. We see the approach as simply one of many tools needed to prioritise and guide conservation efforts at a range of scales.

Keywords: Australia; Corridors; Focal species; Fragmentation; Habitat condition; Isolation; Key habitat; Landscape design

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, G.P.O. Box 284, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia Author for correspondence ( ), Email: 2: CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, Private Bag 5, P.O., Wembley, Western Australia 6913, Australia

Publication date: January 1, 2004

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