During the lecture, Mr. Collins had talked about one of the conservation projects he worked on for a species of fish called Taimen. Later, someone had asked what made the fish, and other species in general, worth saving and I just want to expand on this question. I believe the truth is while all conservation efforts are great, not all species hold the same weight of “importance” as others. Philosophically speaking, a person can say that all organisms on Earth are equal and should have an equal chance to live. It can also be argued that since most endangered species are endangered as a result of human activities that we have a duty to essentially fix the problems we caused. However, while “saving all species we put in danger” is morally correct, it is also not possible.
Biologically speaking, not all organisms have equal chances to live. As Darwin had stated, organisms with better adaptations for their environment have higher chances of survival and, therefore, reproduction. By this logic then, of all the species that are endangered, odds are not all of them had equal chances to survive to begin with. However, though I can say that not all those species had equal rates of survival, what I can’t say is which of those species were more fit to survive because I don’t know. At the same time, I can’t say which species are more “important” and, therefore, more worth saving. It’s possible that I can judge the likelihood of one species, say a keystone species, as being more important but that’s only a human perspective. Importance is a relative term and it’s crucial to note that there might not be such a thing as “importance” in nature. In nature, a species is just a species. No more, no less.
So to answer the question, no, I don’t believe conservation efforts spent on all species should be equal. And though the concept of general importance might not exist in nature, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t attempt to prevent species from going extinct. I think a way to gauge which species are “more worth saving” is to consider their “importance” relative to the human species and to our desire to maintain the environment as it is now or to restore it as it was before. For example, we can say a keystone species should be conserved because this specific species is necessary to keep the ecosystem in question the way it is now. In the future, as the ecosystem changes, said species might no longer be important but it is important now because it’s needed in the current ecosystem.