Hello and welcome!
I am a conservation biologist by education and field experience, which ranges from wildlife rehabilitation, radio telemetry projects, banding birds, and monitoring riparian restoration. As I meander my way through my varied career path – currently not within the conservation world full-time – I’ve noticed a common interaction when I describe my field of study. Quite often I encounter the same question: “why does *insert species* matter?” and every so often it is followed by “I mean, would it really be so bad if *insert species* disappeared?”
While my years of zoobooks and study have me equipped with answers for some species, I have also found myself realizing I may know of a species, but I don’t know much about its ecology and “purpose” within our world. But let’s not get too philosophical here because the “succeed or die” pressure of evolution results in everything having a purpose with possibility of some adaptations that seem strange to us humans.
The real question people should be asking is, “have we as humans observed and cataloged the ecological function and thus purpose of a given species?” The inherent redundancy of ecosystems allows scientists to make some assumptions about many species, yet the intricacies of ecosystems means that there are things we can miss.
Well first of all, I pose a general point: who are we, fellow mammals, to decide what fellow animals can continue to exist on our planet? We act like we know the full ecological repercussions; but this is ecological Jenga. Sure, we can lose a few species, but the Earth’s current extinction rate must have a breaking point. It’s a basic ecological principle that there is redundancy within the system, but we don’t know where the breaking point is until it is too late. That is the basis of this field: to conserve so that the world can continue to thrive.
I decided to take on the challenge of answering those questions, providing access to some resources and all the while acknowledging that within the field of wildlife conservation there is the great debate on conservation vs. preservation, and there is a lot we do not know. While I cannot fully answer these questions, my posts are intended to be a starting point. I encourage followers to read articles I cite/link to, keep questioning and researching. We can all be scientists!