Umbrella species: what they are and examples - Summary

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Ecosystem management includes a wide variety of measures for the protection of living beings and their natural environments, including the conservation of animal and plant species. To ensure the greatest effectiveness of these protection and conservation measures, Conservation Biology has developed the concept of umbrella species as a revolutionary strategy that allows the conservation of particular species within the global Conservation of Biodiversity. The definition of umbrella species and its importance have been studied for decades, since there are multiple advantages that the protection of a single species simultaneously implies the indirect protection of many others with which it shares its habitat.

In this Green Ecologist article you will find all the information you need to delve deeper into the interesting ecological concept of umbrella species. Therefore, keep reading if you want to know what are umbrella species and examples.

What are umbrella species

Refer to some species of organisms such as umbrella species or umbrella species refers to the need for these species to have large areas for their conservation, so that, by protecting these areas, it is also possible to conserve those other species that inhabit them.

The definition of umbrella species and its importance began to gain relevance within Conservation Biology as a result of an article published by biologist Bruce Wilcox in 1984 at Stanford University. Since then, there have been more and more species conservation projects based on this conservation model and strategy that allows guaranteeing the survival of smaller species'under the umbrella or parasol 'of the conservation of larger species.

When determining which species are significant to be considered as umbrella species, a series of prerequisites are determined. These requirements o characteristics of umbrella species are:

  • The geographical dimension of the area that represents the natural habitat of the species, since the extension of the territory that its habitat occupies must be large enough to be able to include the areas of other species that are sought to be protected.
  • The position that the umbrella species occupies within the trophic chain, which according to its eating habits and the type of prey that determine its diet, will determine the importance of selecting it as an umbrella species.
  • In addition, the rarity of the species, their conservation status and their susceptibility to being at risk from environmental impacts, such as pollution and deforestation, must be assessed.
  • Finally, knowing what other species they interact with and if they develop roles of competing, prey or predatory species, in addition to considering other important aspects related to the behavior and reproduction of these species will be of great relevance to consider them umbrella species.

Examples of umbrella species

Do you want to give a name and surname to many of the planet umbrella species? In this section you will find a list of different types of umbrella species, which generally correspond to large animals, all of them vertebrates. Let's see this interesting grouping of umbrella animals according to the animal group to which they belong.


  • Iberian lynx (Lynx parnidus)
  • Wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus)
  • Jaguar (Panthera onca)
  • Andean bear (Tremarctos ornatus)
  • Tapir (Tapirus terrestris)
  • Manatee (Genus Trichechus)


  • Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)
  • Grouse (Tetraus urogallus)
  • Spotted owlStrix occidentalis)
  • Giant woodpecker (Campephilus magellanicus)


  • Orinoco crocodile (Crocodylus intermedius)
  • Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)
  • Charapa turtlePodocnemis arrau)

Importance of umbrella species

In every ecosystem, each species fulfills a specific role that allows the survival (direct and indirect) of the other species with which it lives. Thus, favoring the survival of a species implies providing it with the shelter it needs, but also the complement of species with which it interacts, be it a trophic relationship or simple coexistence.

In this context, umbrella species they are constituted as strategies to ensure the conservation of as many species as possible, thanks to the vast areas that occupy their natural habitats and the importance of their presence in the proper functioning of the trophic and relationship chains in which they intervene.

With all this, among the most outstanding benefits of the existence of umbrella species is the ability to define inventories of flora, fauna and spaces that require an urgent conservation strategy. These processes are often complex and time-consuming, so that conservation biology finds in umbrella species a useful and effective tool for protect many species in a short time.

If you want to read more articles similar to Umbrella 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. Revista Inter Ciencia, Volume 36 (1), pp: 32-36.
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