We review the ecological rationale behind the potential compatibility between top predators and biodiversity conservation, and examine their effectiveness as surrogate species. Evidence suggests that top predators promote species richness or are spatio-temporally associated with it for six causative or noncausative reasons: resource facilitation, trophic cascades, dependence on ecosystem productivity, sensitivity to dysfunctions, selection of heterogeneous sites and links to multiple ecosystem components. Therefore, predator-centered conservation may deliver certain biodiversity goals. To this aim, predators have been employed in conservation as keystone, umbrella, sentinel, flagship, and indicator species. However, quantitative tests of their surrogate-efficacy have been astonishingly few. Evidence suggests they may function as structuring agents and biodiversity indicators in some ecosystems but not others, and that they perform poorly as umbrella species; more consensus exists for their efficacy as sentinel and flagship species. Conservation biologists need to use apex predators more cautiously, as part of wider, context-dependent mixed strategies.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Review Article
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error