Flag species: what they are and examples - Summary

Help the development of the site, sharing the article with friends!

To attract the attention of societies and governments, the species conservation campaigns proposed by environmental organizations must have a striking message that manages to raise awareness and activate, socially and economically, as many people as possible in favor of the conservation of global biodiversity. . It is in this context that charismatic species they become a symbol of environmental conservation, being the flag species the main protagonists of the current strategies against the loss of the planet's biodiversity and the sustainable management of the Anthropocene. We all know the striking giant panda used by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) as a symbol for its campaigns to protect biodiversity worldwide, but what other animals can we distinguish as flagship species nationally and internationally?

In this complete article by Ecologist Verde we tell you in detail all about what are flag species and examples.

What are flag species and what are they for?

Within the world of ecology, what are commonly known as flagship species are those charismatic species that serve as a symbol to attract governmental and / or societal support for achieve the implementation and promotion of species conservation programs.

Said conservation programs manage to include both the selected species as flags, as well as those other less striking species and / or representative of the habitats with which they coexist and keep some kind of biological association.

We can thus affirm that the role of flagship species in the world of biodiversity conservation is of great value. Let us see in the next sections what characteristics and traits define them, as well as the criteria that must be met in order to be considered as flagship species by organizations and ecology specialists.

Characteristics of flag species

For a species to be considered a flag and, therefore, defined as a priority and strategy for the conservation of biodiversity, it must meet a series of requirements:

  • Have a high threat level.
  • Have a fundamental ecological value for the proper functioning of the habitat to which it belongs.
  • Have prior biological knowledge from the scientific community.
  • Have a long generational time.
  • Characterized by a large body size that facilitates its knowledge.
  • Guarantee the survival of other species with which it shares its natural habitat.
  • Be sensitive to environmental and / or population disturbances.
  • Need specific habitat requirements.

Once a species has all these attributes, it can be considered by ecological experts as a flagship species proposal, which, however, should not comply with a distribution area or large populations, or with a particular trophic level.

Now that we have discovered what characteristics and attributes flag species must meet, let's get to know with concrete examples many of the most important flag species on the planet.

Examples of flag species

Many biodiversity protection campaigns in America include big cats as main flag species, being used as symbols to promote the development of conservation programs for biological corridors, such as the famous Mesoamerican Biological Corridor (CBM). In the following list we show more flagship species that we have probably seen many times in species conservation campaigns. Did you know them all?

  • Giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)
  • Wolf (Canis lupus)
  • Cougar (Puma concolor)
  • Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris)
  • Spotted owlTyto multipunctata)
  • Mountain tapir (Tapirus pinchaque)
  • Green turtle (Chelonia mydas)
  • Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus)
  • Orangutan (Genus Pongo)

Relationship between flag species and umbrella species

The terms flag species and umbrella species have been coined by the scientific community, within the world of ecology, to expedite the study and conservation of multiple species.

During the last decades, coinciding with the impacts of climate change and anthropic alteration of ecosystems, each time more species are at risk of extinction if they do not have large social awareness campaigns for their conservation and survival. It is in this context that ecologists began to use the terms flag and umbrella species within the broader concept of surrogate species, which include functions such as signaling environmental or population changes, until attracting public attention for the development of species conservation programs.

In this way, the use and recognition of species as flags and umbrellas in the world of ecology can be complementary, since, although umbrella species represent others, but not flags, the use of both in protection and conservation campaigns it is much more enriching.

In the following article we talk in more detail about Umbrella species: what they are and examples. You can also keep learning about the relevance of biodiversity by visiting Green Ecologist's article Why Biodiversity is Important.

If you want to read more articles similar to Flag species: what they are and examples, we recommend that you enter our Biology category.

  • Catalá, E. I. (2011). The concepts of indicator species, umbrellas, flags and keys: their use and abuse in conservation ecology. Inter Science Magazine, Volume 36 (1), pp: 32-34.
  • Writing team. (2022). Species and habitats: conservation of threatened species. World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Available at: https://www.wwf.es/nuestro_trabajo/especies_y_habitats/conservacion_de_especies_amenazadas/
You will help the development of the site, sharing the page with your friends
This page in other languages: