The potential of large carnivores as conservation surrogates in the Romanian Carpathians

Authors: Rozylowicz, Laurenţiu1; Popescu, Viorel2; Pătroescu, Maria3; Chişamera, Gabriel4

Source: Biodiversity and Conservation, Volume 20, Number 3, March 2011 , pp. 561-579(19)

Publisher: Springer

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Abstract:

Conservation shortcuts such as umbrella species have been long used for regional protection of species whose distributions are poorly known. Although the European large carnivores—brown bear, gray wolf, and Eurasian lynx—might seem to be robust candidates as umbrella species, their actual effectiveness has been challenged. We used 10-km resolution distribution maps of mammals (n = 10) and birds (n = 55) of European conservation concern in the Romanian Carpathians, and a temporal sequence of land cover maps (1990, 2000, and 2006) to examine: (1) the spatial overlap in distribution between large carnivores and bird and mammal species of conservation concern, (2) changes in forest cover for the Romanian Carpathians during the post-communist period in relation to the distribution of species, and (3) priority conservation areas using carnivores as umbrella species. Approximately 55% of the bird and 80% of mammals species included in this study would potentially benefit from using large carnivores as conservation surrogates. The changes in forest cover during 1990–2006 were concentrated in the Eastern Carpathians, where up to 45% of the forest per mapping unit was clearcut during the study period. Implicitly, the areas of occupancy of the background species were most disturbed by clearcutting in the Eastern Carpathians. We propose that the large carnivores could act temporary as umbrella species in areas that are still relatively undisturbed, such as Southern and Southwestern Carpathians. This alternative conservation strategy will allow time for (1) the new established protected areas to start efficiently and (2) the forestry practices to switch from mostly uncontrolled clearcutting, lacking landscape scale management to ecologically-based practices.

Keywords: Clearcutting; Large carnivores; Protected areas; Romanian Carpathians; Species of conservation concern; Umbrella species

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10531-010-9967-x

Affiliations: 1: Centre for Environmental Research (CCMESI), University of Bucharest, 1 N. Balcescu Blvd., 010041, Bucharest, Romania, Email: laurentiu.rozylowicz@g.unibuc.ro 2: Centre for Environmental Research (CCMESI), University of Bucharest, 1 N. Balcescu Blvd., 010041, Bucharest, Romania, Email: dan.v.popescu@maine.edu 3: Centre for Environmental Research (CCMESI), University of Bucharest, 1 N. Balcescu Blvd., 010041, Bucharest, Romania 4: “Grigore Antipa” National Museum of Natural History, 1 Kiseleff Blvd., 011341, Bucharest, Romania, Email: gabriel_chisamera@antipa.ro

Publication date: March 1, 2011

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