Conservation of Biodiversity

Why should we try to save endangered species?
Answered by Planet Green
  • Planet Green

    Planet Green

  1. Species rely on each other in complicated and extremely delicate ecological networks, so removing one -- especially a keystone species -- can have disastrous results. Take the gray wolf. After that species' population dwindled in Yellowstone National Park, elk started to breed out of control. This meant there were too many of them munching down the willows, aspens and other trees that shaded the water in the park. This in turn made the streams uncomfortably hot for local trout, and took nesting spots away from migrating birds.

    After gray wolves were reintroduced to the park, they controlled the elk population and everything else fell into place. Plus, the plan was further beneficial because beavers were able to build better dams, creating more marshland for otters and ducks.

    One interesting idea to help alleviate the problem of species loss, and plan for the future at the same time, involves the creation of "gene banks," genetic samples of every plant and animal species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has placed more than 900 species on its list of endangered animals. Pollution, human encroachment into wildlife habitats and animal exploitation have all played their part in diminishing and threatening animal populations. It's impossible to round up and preserve living specimens from all over Earth, but researchers hope to collect and store the gene bank specimens at below-freezing temperatures.

    One such gene bank program, the U.K.'s Frozenark hopes to collect about 16,000 samples from endangered creatures. They want to collect DNA and as much good cell material as they can within the next 50 years Frozenark.

    Present studies like Frozenark could provide insight into the biology of various species, and future research could make possible the successful cloning of extinct animals. You might say that a gene bank is a modern-day Noah's Ark. But we hope there will be no modern-day flood.

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