- 保全生態学研究 = Japanese journal of conservation ecology (ISSN:13424327)
- vol.14, no.2, pp.293-296, 2009-11-30
Bears are popular, and are often regarded as umbrella species by conservationists and wildlife societies. This is the case for the Asiatic black bear and the brown bear in Japan. The idea is that bears' home ranges are large and, consequently, that the conservation of bears would result in the conservation of other sympatric plants and animals. Buskirk (1999), however, stated that since large carnivores are habitat generalists, they cannot serve as umbrellas. In fact, in the Sierra Nevada, most martens, fishers and wolverines, which are habitat specialists, are extinct or nearly so, while American black bears are common or abundant (Buskirk pers, comm. 2009). Buskirk's opinion is important for the following reasons. 1) Although the concept of an umbrella species has merit, unless a species' habitat and resource requirements are known, the conservation of other species is not assured. 2) If a conservation initiative is enacted under this slogan and some animals disappear, while bears are abundant, as happened in the Sierra Nevada, then the logic underpinning the initiative is flawed. 3) The proposition of "the more, the better" can be unpopular, even with people who have an understanding of conservation efforts, because such a proposition may be difficult to accept, particularly in a small country like Japan. 4) The concept that bears are umbrella species stems from the idea that not only bears but also other organisms should be conserved; however, the term can be misconstrued to imply that, "Bears live here and thus other animals must also be OK." Thus, the slogan can function in a manner contrary to its intent. We should be cautious not to use this concept without confirming the true meaning of umbrella species.