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Does it really matter?

Discussion of the distribution and abundance of living organisms and how these properties are affected by interactions between the organisms and their environment

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Postby Smig » Wed Apr 07, 2010 3:49 pm

I got your point Jack. My replies to you were a little off because for some reason I missed the part in the OP that talked about an "incredibly rare animal" :P so I went on and on about ecological danger of extinction without realizing that detail. I agree that on that regard, it would be safe to say that it wouldn't matter.
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Postby JackBean » Wed Apr 07, 2010 4:32 pm

IMHO that doesn't actually much matter :lol: :lol: :lol: (that it's rare). But the point is - for Earth and life it doesn't matter at all (no matter how much of that species there is), for human that can matter for reasons mentioned above
http://www.biolib.cz/en/main/

Cis or trans? That's what matters.
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Re: Does it really matter?

Postby Etryn » Wed May 05, 2010 5:14 pm

I've wondered about this same topic, and struggled to think of a good, quantitative reason why species conservation is important to the global ecosystem (I too agree that species have inherent value, but some people aren't convinced). However, I recently read a paper (Tilden and Downing, 1994) about biodiversity and ecosystem resilience... In the study, ecosystems with higher species richness took less time to recover from disturbances. Though the removal of one species, such as the lynx mentioned by the OP, probably won't have much effect, biodiversity is clearly healthy for an ecosystem. And in order to conserve biodiversity on a large scale, we have to conserve individual species! :)
"Sit down before fact like a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abyss Nature leads, or you shall learn nothing." -Thomas Huxley
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Re: Does it really matter?

Postby skeptic » Wed May 05, 2010 8:00 pm

To etryn

Actually no.

Here in New Zealand, we have about 2,000 species of native plant. Perhaps half a dozen or so have gone extinct as a result of human activity. However, approximately another 2,000 species of plant have been introduced from overseas. So including exotics, we now have about 4,000 plants. Biodiversity has doubled in spite of the loss of a few species to extinction. If biodiversity contributes to stability in ecosystems, our ecosystems are now more stable.

This situation, more or less, applies globally, with the rapid spread of species due to human activity.

I am not suggesting that extinctions are OK. They are not. However, the loss of minor species is not of significance to ecosystems. They are of significance to humans, primarily in terms of the emotional impact of knowing we are losing species.

The biggest change to ecosystems, in fact, comes from the increase in biodiversity due to the introduction of exotics. This is a massive, sweeping change, and the consequences overall are still happening.
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Postby JackBean » Thu May 06, 2010 8:04 am

Etryn:
exactly, that's all I'm saying!

Of course, that the more species, the more stable (if are we talking about ecosystem in equilibrium, not newly introduced species, skeptic;). Why that? Imagine ecosystem, where you have only one species of grass, one of cow, on of wolf and one of assvogel and nothing more. Now remove wolfs fr some reason (new parasite, which kills all of them. Tan assvogels will die, as they have nothing to eat (assuming, they are eating only dead wolfs;), but cows will have outbreak and thus deplenish all the grass, leading to cow starvation and extinction.
Of course, that is too absurd, but if you had ten species at each level, then after extinction of any species the others will shortly take its place.
http://www.biolib.cz/en/main/

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Re: Does it really matter?

Postby skeptic » Thu May 06, 2010 8:11 am

Actually Jack, it does not matter whether the species are native or exotic. The same principle applies. More species = more stability.
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Postby JackBean » Thu May 06, 2010 8:34 am

yes, that doesn't matter, but matters, how long they are there. If you just now bring 20 new species, your ecosystem will probably collapse and it will take some time until balanced. Of course, after long time, they will add to the stability (but they will be almost-native at that time;)
http://www.biolib.cz/en/main/

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Re: Does it really matter?

Postby skeptic » Thu May 06, 2010 8:40 am

On that point, Jack, I agree. A good example is when South America collided with North America at the isthmus of Panama about 3 million years ago. It created a passage between, and a large number of North American species entered the south, and a large number of South American species entered the north. For a time there was ecological variability, and even some species going extinct. Then it all settled into a new balance, which was more stable than the first.
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Postby Hobble » Mon Jul 19, 2010 4:04 am

If an animal is lost, another will move into the available niche and exploit it.

Dinosaurs were killed, Mammals moved into the spotlight.
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Re: Does it really matter?

Postby kimsmarkin » Wed Sep 22, 2010 7:05 am

I believe that if the population is so small or the density of animals is so small it would have no effect. However, it is always possible that the species could colonise. Looking back, then you import.
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