Is One Species More Valuable Than Another?

Nearly 200 species go extinct every day—that is a staggering 73,050 species each year. Conservationists fight against these odds by targeting the effects of pollution, over-hunting, habitat destruction, and natural disasters. Although preservation efforts are continuously revised and exercised, they never guarantee success.

While Dr. Darron Collins seemed confident in his discussion regarding the preservation efforts of Taimen fish in Mongolia and the learning opportunities available at the College of the Atlantic, he appeared hesitant to discuss a pressing issue faced by conservationists: How do you choose which of these species to maintain?

As most would assume, Dr. Collins stressed that the value of any species cannot be limited. Unique species fill niches in their environment, that not only contribute a needed service to their ecosystem, but provide an interesting presence. It is difficult to comprehend that 90% of species that have ever existed on Earth have already become extinct, since, if not for the variety of species, the world would be much more boring.

The question on conservation can be answered by two minds—one in support of empathy and the other a proponent of realism. An empathetic viewpoint suggests that you must look at the intrinsic values in a species beyond its utility, while a realistic perspective pinpoints quantitative value.

Unfortunately, the realistic perspective is often favored by most scientists.

The quantitative value of a species considers its importance in maintaining its ecological community and its place as a keystone species. For instance, bees are considered a keystone species in their environment. They are invaluable to the survival of plants, and without them, there would be serious ramifications on the ecosystem. While it is desired to have a balance of species, the species similar to bees in value, are the ones that conservationists would work to maintain.

When all is said and done, the contributions of a species to its environment overwhelm all other aspects. If the species is invaluable to the survival of other species in its environment, then conservationists will work to maintain it. These species can then be considered more value than those that generally just add more interest to the world.

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