Umbrella effect (ecology)

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An umbrella effect is the protection extended by the presence of an umbrella species to other species in the same habitat.

The umbrella species is often either a flagship species whose conservation benefits other species[1] or a keystone species which may be targeted for conservation due to its impact on an ecosystem.
More generally, an umbrella species determines the area over which conservation occurs. They are often representative of other species in their habitat, being an easily observable and known species.


A good example of an umbrella species and its impact is summed up by Kimberly Andrews, a University of Georgia doctoral student at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory:

"Protecting a species like the canebrake has practical applications, as protection measures would have broad environmental value because of an umbrella effect. That is, protecting the rattlesnakes would ensure protection of other wildlife species that use the same habitats but are less sensitive to development or require fewer resources."[2]

Uses this concept[edit]

The concept of an umbrella species is further utilized to create wildlife corridors with what are termed focal species. These focal species are chosen for a number of reasons and fall into several types, generally measured by their potential for an umbrella effect. By carefully choosing species based on this criterion, a linked or networked habitat can be created from single-species corridors.[3] These criteria are determined with the assistance of geographic information systems on the larger scale. Regardless of the location or scale of conservation, the umbrella effect is a measurement of a species' impact on others and is an important part of determining an approach.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sherman, 2002, 280.
  2. ^ Gibbons, 2007.
  3. ^ Northern Arizona University (Majka, 2007).


  • Gibbons, Whit. March 4, 2007. Preserve wildlife before it is lost to us forever. Retrieved April 14, 2008.
  • Majka, Dan. September 18, 2007. Selecting focal species. Retrieved April 15, 2008.
  • Sherman, David M. 2002. Tending animals in the global village: A guide to international veterinary medicine. Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 978-0-683-18051-0