Summary With biodiversity facing threats, there is a need to improve reserve selection procedures. However, detailed information about different biodiversity measures (e.g. species richness) at potential sites is often lacking, and selecting areas that protect most biodiversity is difficult. To simplify matters, biodiversity surrogate species, that is, species associated with higher biodiversity than average, have been used for area selection. However, consensus about the performance of the surrogate species concept is lacking, and there are few studies investigating potential differences in the effectiveness of multiple predators as surrogates for biodiversity over large spatial scales. We evaluated two avian predators, the northern goshawk Accipiter gentilis and the Ural owl Strix uralensis, as surrogates for biodiversity in the boreal forest biome in Western Finland. We used a study design including nest sites and two reference sites for each nest, the diversity of birds and wood‐decaying fungi (polypores). We assessed simultaneously whether surrogacy persisted at the landscape level while moving from one vegetation zone to another. We generally found more birds and polypores around the nest sites for both goshawks and Ural owls than at their respective reference sites. However, the goshawk outperformed the Ural owl. Additionally, although biodiversity was found to decrease at the landscape scale as a result of a decrease in vegetation complexity with increasing longitude, the surrogacy efficiency of the raptors remained unchanged. Synthesis and applications. These findings suggest that the surrogate species concept applied to raptors may be an efficient addition to methods for identifying areas of conservation priority, even across vegetation zones. We conclude that protecting areas around raptor nests is a method to consider in order to halt forest biodiversity loss. Finally, sampling biodiversity along diversity and landscape gradients can improve the necessary assessment of surrogate species.
Journal of Applied Ecology – Wiley
Published: Jun 1, 2014
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