Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 561–579 | Cite as

The potential of large carnivores as conservation surrogates in the Romanian Carpathians

  • Laurenţiu RozylowiczEmail author
  • Viorel D. Popescu
  • Maria Pătroescu
  • Gabriel Chişamera
Original Paper


Conservation shortcuts such as umbrella species have been long used for regional protection of species whose distributions are poorly known. Although the European large carnivores—brown bear, gray wolf, and Eurasian lynx—might seem to be robust candidates as umbrella species, their actual effectiveness has been challenged. We used 10-km resolution distribution maps of mammals (n = 10) and birds (n = 55) of European conservation concern in the Romanian Carpathians, and a temporal sequence of land cover maps (1990, 2000, and 2006) to examine: (1) the spatial overlap in distribution between large carnivores and bird and mammal species of conservation concern, (2) changes in forest cover for the Romanian Carpathians during the post-communist period in relation to the distribution of species, and (3) priority conservation areas using carnivores as umbrella species. Approximately 55% of the bird and 80% of mammals species included in this study would potentially benefit from using large carnivores as conservation surrogates. The changes in forest cover during 1990–2006 were concentrated in the Eastern Carpathians, where up to 45% of the forest per mapping unit was clearcut during the study period. Implicitly, the areas of occupancy of the background species were most disturbed by clearcutting in the Eastern Carpathians. We propose that the large carnivores could act temporary as umbrella species in areas that are still relatively undisturbed, such as Southern and Southwestern Carpathians. This alternative conservation strategy will allow time for (1) the new established protected areas to start efficiently and (2) the forestry practices to switch from mostly uncontrolled clearcutting, lacking landscape scale management to ecologically-based practices.


Large carnivores Romanian Carpathians Umbrella species Protected areas Clearcutting Species of conservation concern 



We would like to thank Richard B. Primack, Malcolm L. Hunter and two anonymous reviewers whose comments greatly improved this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laurenţiu Rozylowicz
    • 1
    Email author
  • Viorel D. Popescu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Maria Pătroescu
    • 1
  • Gabriel Chişamera
    • 3
  1. 1.Centre for Environmental Research (CCMESI)University of BucharestBucharestRomania
  2. 2.Department of Wildlife EcologyUniversity of MaineOronoUSA
  3. 3.“Grigore Antipa” National Museum of Natural HistoryBucharestRomania

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