The Umbrella Value of Caribou Management Strategies for Biodiversity Conservation in Boreal Forests Under Global Change

Guillemette Labadie
Ilhem Bouderbala
Yan Boulanger
Jean-Michel Béland
Christian Hébert
Antoine Allard
Mark Hebblewhite
Daniel Fortin
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Single-species conservation management is often proposed to preserve biodiversity in human-disturbed landscapes. How global change will impact the umbrella value of single-species management strategies remains an open question of critical conservation importance. We assessed the effectiveness of threatened boreal caribou as an umbrella for bird and beetle conservation under global change. We combined mechanistic, spatially explicit models of forest dynamics and predator-prey interactions to forecast the impact of management strategies on the survival of boreal caribou in boreal forest. We then used predictive models of species occupancy to characterize concurrent impacts on bird and beetle diversity. Landscapes were simulated based on three scenarios of climate change and four of forest management. We found that strategies that best mitigate human impact on boreal caribou were an effective umbrella for maintaining bird and beetle assemblages. While we detected a stronger effect of land-use change compared to climate change, the umbrella value of management strategies for caribou habitat conservation were still impacted by the severity of climate change. Our results showed an interplay among changes in forest attributes, boreal caribou mortality, as well as bird and beetle species assemblages. The conservation status of some species mandates the development of recovery strategies, highlighting the importance of our study which shows that single-species conservation can have important umbrella benefits despite global change.