Epiphytic orchids are highly prized for their beauty, and no wonder many of Florida’s orchid species have faced possible extinction due to poaching. You might say, “well that’s a shame, but what exactly do they really do for the ecosystem? Are they really that important? Heck yeah, they are. If you ask my opinion, it’s a shame to lose any organism, no matter how small or seemingly inconsequential. Here’s the thing: orchids are beautiful, which mean a lot of people are just like me….they want to keep them around. And here’s the cool thing. If you want to protect an epiphytic orchid, like a ghost orchid, you have to protect the trees they grow on, and the insects that pollinate them. In other words, you need to protect the entire ecosystem in order to protect that one, delicate species. This makes orchids like the ghost and the cowhorn “flagship species.”
Flagship species: a species selected to act as an ambassador, icon or symbol for a defined habitat, issue, campaign or environmental cause
Discuss other beautiful, rare or charismatic species in South Florida that would be considered flagship species. Have their popularity or conservation status lead to improvements of the habitats that they call home?