Do all Species Deserve Protection?

in animal •  last year

Should all Species that are endanger of going extinct be protected?
About a week ago, I took the GRE test to complete my application to Graduate School. Although I cannot disclose any questions on that exam, one of the questions got my mind racing a little, and I don't mean just because I was nervous. Rather, it related to wildlife and the endangerment of various species. Naturally, this inspired me to write about the subject matter.

As I already asked, should we as a society make efforts to protect all endangered species? Or perhaps only those that are endangered due to human actions? Or maybe no efforts to save any at all? Okay, maybe that last one is ridiculous. At least I'd sure hope we can all agree that saving (at least) some species is worth our time in some respects.

Realistically, we do not have the ability to protect everything. I firmly believe that old saying; an ounce of prevention is worth gallons of restoration. Species that are already at risk of being lost will require huge amounts of funding and effort to be saved. By huge I mean in many cases, millions or billions of dollars and thousands upon thousands of man hours, sometimes for a single species. This doesn't mean we shouldn't save a particular species, but it means we need to really evaluate where we are going to choose to focus our efforts.

Additionally, species go extinct ALL THE TIME. Throughout history, species have evolved and continue to do so. That little thing called Evolution. It's in the past, present and will continue to occur in the future. This means it is normal for species to go extinct. We need to assess, however, whether we are losing species at a faster rate now than in the past. If species extinction rates are similar to those pre-human civilization then perhaps extinctions are okay.

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I personally believe extinction rates are higher now than in the past. This calls for protection of species, but not all species. Some would be lost naturally. How do we determine which are endangered because of human actions compared to natural causes? I don't have an answer. Maybe you do? Sure, we can safely say species such as Gorillas or Elephants are endangered because of human actions. Species that are exploited for direct human consumption are an obvious candidate for protection. But what about species that are suffering because we have changed their habitats, so the negative impacts are lagging behind our actual actions. They deserve protection too. What if a species become endangered because we have wiped out its food source, or another species in which it relied on a symbiotic relationship with to survive? Will we be able to detect and relate that to human caused? Additionally, climate change is occurring at a faster pace than previously. Coniferous trees are suffering (although not endangered yet but the potential is there and forests are diminishing across the Western United States) because pine beetles thrive and mutilate pines in this rapidly evolving climate. Which endangered species would still be thriving if it weren't for such a rapid change in climate?

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I am standing in a conifer stand similar to the billions of acres that are dying off from Pine Beetles. Credit: Cody Edwards

I am not entirely sure we have an answer to these questions. I imagine society as a whole will choose to focus efforts on species they believe to be most valuable.

In essence, We as humans will need to find a way to protect species whom have value not only to us, but that would be lost due to our actions and would be detrimental if lost within their ecosystem.

Hope you enjoyed my semi scattered thoughts, and hopefully you'll have some input on the matter? As always, don't hesitate to write questions or comments! Start the conversation. That's what the community is for, Right?

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I think there is something to be said for protecting biodiversity. It is for own benefit. But in the case of the Pine Beetles, maybe a good weighting of the pros and cons is in order.

I dunno, but I like that you brought up the topic.

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I agree. Biodiversity is so crucial., But should we manage for species that we expect to thrive in rapidly changing environments or allow populations to shift with the shifting climate even if not historically in a certain location or now lost in historical ranges? Pine beetles I think will be a constant battle to protect conifer stands, which provide for so many other species. We even have beetle traps on some stands in various forests in Utah that forest service puts out.

Picking and choosing species may not really be up to us, but rather the ones we protect are the ones that we actually come across and realize are on the brink of extinction. So many species are so hard to find that they may be going extinct without us even knowing it.

I believe the last time I looked up the extinction rate it was estimated to be between 1000 and 10000 times more than what would naturally be occurring without human interaction. That says to me that we should be trying to protect as many species as possible.

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So true! We have such limited knowledge of the species that exist in tropical regions and within the ocean... I was more geared towards deciding between which species to protect among those we know exist because even those few we don't have enough resources to protect them all in my opinion.... Thanks for the info in the extinction rates. I think at one point I learned the estimated rates in one of my classes but it's always nice to be updated on facts!!

I agree with the comments on evolution, and that things change, that is the norm. However, our species impact on the extinctions is far to great. We have evolved to have by far the greatest mental capacity of all species, but we have not been able to evolve to a point where collectively we take action for the impact we have on the world around us. Collectively we are destroying our home, and that is the issue. I love animals but I eat meat, and I am no tree hugger. It is all about balance though.

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I agree. I think we are over populating this earth and essentially eating ourselves out of house and home

we need to make room for more diversity, that's for darn sure !