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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An indicator species is any biological species that defines a trait or characteristic of the environment. For example, a species may delineate an ecoregion or indicate an environmental condition such as a disease outbreak, pollution, species competition or climate change. Indicator species can be among the most sensitive species in a region, and sometimes act as an early warning to monitoring biologists.


Indicators of environmental condition


Lindenmayer et al.[1] suggest 7 alternative definitions of indicator species:

  1. a species whose presence indicates the presence of a set of other species and whose absence indicates the lack of that entire set of species;
  2. a keystone species, which is a species whose addition to or loss from an ecosystem leads to major changes in abundance or occurrence of at least one other species
  3. a species whose presence indicates human-created abiotic conditions such as air or water pollution (often called a pollution indicator species)
  4. a dominant species that provides much of the biomass or number of individuals in an area
  5. a species that indicates particular environmental conditions such as certain soil or rock types
  6. a species thought to be sensitive to and therefore to serve as an early warning indicator of environmental changes such as global warming or modified fire regimes (sometimes called a bioindicator species)
  7. a management indicator species, which is a species that reflects the effects of a disturbance regime or the efficacy of efforts to mitigate disturbance effects.

Type 1, 2, and 4 have been proposed as indicators of biological diversity and types 3, 5, 6, and 7 as indicators of abiotic conditions and/or changes in ecological processes.

Indicator Species for Ancient Woodland in England

Indicator species for ancient woodland in England need to be shade tolerant and slow colonisers. Plant species include Common wood sorrel, Wood Anemone, Wild Daffodil, Golden Saxifrage, Wild Garlic[2] and in the East of England and Lincolnshire, Common Bluebells.[3]

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