Environmental Management

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 265–269 | Cite as

Evaluation of guild-indicator species for use in resource management

  • William M. Block
  • Leonard A. Brennan
  • R. J. Gutiérrez


We followed selection guidelines commonly used by management agencies to select mountain quail (Oreortyx pictus) as an indicator species for an ecological guild of birds. We then evaluated the ability of mountain quail to indicate the presence of other species from the guild and to index the quality of the habitat for other species. The ability of quail to indicate the presence of species from the ecological guild varied widely within and among vegetation types. Species compositions of the ecological guild were more consistent in comparisons of sites within vegetation types than they were in comparisons of sites between vegetation types. Mountain quail habitat was significantly different from the habitats of sympatric species from the guild for 14 of 15 multivariate contrasts. We suggest that managers use indicator species with caution. If indicators are used, they should be applied to guilds composed of species that closely share ecological affinities. The habitat of the indicator species should overlap extensively with those of all other guild members. The use of indicators should be restricted to very similar sites within the same general vegetation type.

Key words

Guilds Guild-indicator species Population monitoring Habitat monitoring 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • William M. Block
    • 1
  • Leonard A. Brennan
    • 1
  • R. J. Gutiérrez
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of WildlifeHumboldt State UniversityArcataUSA

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