Species indicative of biotope sensitivity

Selection criteria - the following criteria are used to decide which species best represent the sensitivity of a biotope or community as a whole.

Rank Definition
Key structural The species provides a distinct habitat that supports an associated community. Loss or degradation of this species' population would result in loss or degradation of the associated community.
Key functional The species maintains community structure and function through interactions with other members of that community (for example, predation, grazing, and competition). Loss or degradation of this species' population would result in rapid, cascading changes in the community.
Important characterizing The species is/are characteristic of the biotope (dominant, highly faithful and frequent) and are important for the classification of that biotope. Loss or degradation of these species' populations could result in the loss of that biotope.
Important structural The species positively interacts with the key or characterizing species and is important for their viability. Loss or degradation of these species would likely reduce the viability of the key or characterizing species. For example, these species may prey on parasites, epiphytes or disease organisms of the key or characterizing species.
Important functional The species is the dominant source of organic matter or primary production within the ecosystem. Loss or degradation of these species could result in changes in the community's function and structure.
Important other Additional species that do not fall under the above criteria but where present knowledge of the ecology of the community suggests they may affect the sensitivity of the community.

Note: All key species will be used in the sensitivity assessment. However, where several important species satisfy the above criteria examples from each rank should be used. Preference should be given to examples where direct evidence of community interaction is available or they are characteristic (highly faithful) of the biotope.