Giving Compass' Take:

• According to new research, the Australian government could help endangered species thrive if it prioritized investments in umbrella species. 

• Umbrella species are species that can protect other animals and plants and research shows that helping umbrella species thrive, could, in turn, help other more delicate species live longer. 

• Learn about the impact of climate change on animals.

Umbrella species are species those that, when preserved, indirectly protect many other plant and animal species.

Michelle War, a PhD candidate at the University of Queensland, says different choices in Australia could provide more assistance for threatened species.

“The Australian Federal Government’s umbrella prioritization list identifies 73 species as conservation priorities,” she says. “But this only ends up benefiting 6% of all Australia’s threatened terrestrial species. This figure could be increased to benefit nearly half of all threatened terrestrial species for the same budget.

“One of the main reasons is that many umbrella species are chosen based on their public appeal, rather than their efficiency for protecting other species—we want to change that.”

The researchers investigated what umbrella species could maximize the flora and fauna benefiting from management, while considering threats, actions, and costs.

“The koala, red goshawk, matted flax-lily, and purple clover are more efficient umbrella species, yet none of these appear on the existing federal government priority species list.

“Australia has committed to prevent further extinction of known threatened species and improve their conservation status by 2020. Yet, with limited funding committed to conservation, we need better methods to efficiently prioritize investment of resources.”

“Now is precisely the time where governments need to get their investment in nature to be as efficient as possible,” he says. “Nations around the world can significantly improve the selection of umbrella species for conservation action by taking advantage of our transparent, quantitative, and objective prioritization approach.

Read the full article about umbrella species at Futurity.