, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 5-12

Are Lepidoptera an effective ‘umbrella group‘ for biodiversity conservation?

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Abstract

Lepidoptera have attracted more attention than other insects in the development of insect conservation, commonly as charismatic ‘flagship‘ species. Wider benefits of conservation studies on single species include developing and clarifying their role as putative ‘umbrella‘ taxa whereby their protection also confers protection on coexisting organisms which are not as well documented. Examples are given of such umbrella Lepidoptera from the Australian region, and the values of documenting and defining changes in lepidopteran assemblages (for example, through analysis of light-trap catches of moths) as correlates of environmental change are outlined. Selection of optimal groups depends on documenting responses of both species and higher taxa to changes in vegetation or microclimate in particular. Potent umbrella taxa manifest many of the features of indicator and flagship taxa.