Social Implications of Selecting Focal Species to Guide Conservation

Overview

Surrogate species approaches have been applied in various contexts in attempts to simplify or focus conservation efforts. Four different types of surrogate species have been identified: indicators, umbrellas, keystones, and flagships. This seminar focuses on flagship species, which are "popular, charismatic species that serve as symbols and rallying points to stimulate conservation awareness and action." Flagship species are particularly valuable for their potential to impact conservation behaviors, including increasing support for fundraising. However, like with any surrogate species, there are multiple social implications of using flagship species to garner support for conservation. In this seminar, we first outline the different surrogate species approaches, describing the distinct objectives and social implications of each approach. We then explore the relationship between flagship species and social conflict, exampling how we might preempt the potentially negative consequences of conflicts for both people and flagship species. Lastly, we present research of potential flagship species for a Tanzanian National Park as a case study and discuss the lessons learned.