Phylogeny, conservation and indicator species

John Landolt jlandolt at SHEPHERD.WVNET.EDU
Fri Jan 30 10:47:40 CST 1998

Dear TAXACOM'ers

        I have been a "lurking" subscriber to the TAXACOM list for a couple
of years.  The recent thread on phylogeny and conservation, together with a
question asked of me by a student yesterday, has prompted me to "expose"
myself (and the possibly my ignorance).

        The student's question had to do with the concept of "indicator
species" and what might be some of the best examples of such things.  The
student asked if, perhaps, any species of cellular slime mold (the group
that I work with) might represent such an entity.  Quite frankly, I found
that I could provide no good example from cellular slime molds.  While some
species of the group are more likely found in certain, very broad
situations (eg. "tropical", "temperate forests",  "Asian form"), none (so
far) seem to be very narrowly connected to a particular community.  I'm not
very sure, by the way, what a cellular slime mold species is.  They seem to
blithely go about their business in a totally asexual way and in my
opinion, many forms may have considerable "intraspecific" variation.  Oh
well, I tend to be a "lumper"

        Am I correct in my assumption that an "indicator species" is one
closely tied to a fairly narrow ecological setting?  Is not an "indicator
species" one that supposedly can be used to monitor the "health" of that
ecological setting?  Should there be special attempts to identify
"indicator species" in conjunction with conservation planning (aha, finally
a connection to the current thread)?

        What would be, in the opinion of other subscribers, some of the
best particular examples of "indicator species"?

        Sorry to ramble.  I promise to go back in hiding very soon.


John C. Landolt, Biology
Shepherd College, WV, U.S.A.

More information about the Taxacom mailing list