Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 78, Issue 1, pp 45–61

Selecting Indicator Species to Monitor Ecological Integrity: A Review


DOI: 10.1023/A:1016136723584

Cite this article as:
Carignan, V. & Villard, MA. Environ Monit Assess (2002) 78: 45. doi:10.1023/A:1016136723584


We review critical issues that must be considered when selectingindicator species for a monitoring program that aims to maintainor restore ecological integrity. First, we examine the pros andcons of different management approaches on which a conservationprogram can be based and conclude that ecosystem management ismost appropriate. We then identify potential indicators ofecological integrity at various levels of the ecosystem, with aparticular emphasis on the species level. We conclude that,although the use of indicator species remains contentious, it canbe useful if (1) many species representing various taxa and lifehistories are included in the monitoring program, (2) theirselection is primarily based on a sound quantitative databasefrom the focal region, and (3) caution is applied wheninterpreting their population trends to distinguish actualsignals from variations that may be unrelated to thedeterioration of ecological integrity. Finally, we present anddiscuss different methods that have been used to select indicatorspecies.

birdsbogsconservationecological integrityecosystem managementforestindicator species

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Département de biologieUniversité de MonctonMonctonCanada