ECO Alphabet: Week 5: Endangered Species

Updated: Sep 17, 2020

An estimated 50% of the world's species are at risk for extinction..

endangered species, Hawaiian monk seal, conservation, sustainability, eco friendly
Hawaiian Monk Seal

We are in the midst of our 6th mass extinction! This is the worst event of species dying off since the dinosaurs 65 million years ago!


Extinction is a natural phenomenon usually occurring at about 5 species/year.

We are at about 1,000 times that rate at 12 species/day...


Below I will tell you what an endangered species is, how we are affecting the rate of endangerment, and what we can do about it! Enjoy!


What is an endangered specie?

An endangered specie is a species threatened to extinction. Pretty straight forward, right?


Levels of Endangerment:

  • Vulnerable: if population declines 30-50% or if there are fewer than 10,000 mature individuals. This is measured over 10 years or 3 generations (whichever is longer). Example - Ethiopian Banana Frog and Snaggletooth Shark

  • Endangered: if population declines 50-70% or if there are fewer than 2,500 mature individuals. This is measured over 10 years or 3 generations (whichever is longer). Example - Ebony trees and Tahiti Red-warbler

  • Critically Endangered: if population declines 80-90% or if there are fewer than 250 mature individuals. This is measured over 10 years or 3 generations (whichever is longer). Example - Bolivian Chinchilla Rat and Transcaucasian Racerunner


Why are species becoming endangered in the first place?


Top 10 reasons for endangerment:

  • Overhunting/harvesting

  • Habitat Loss

  • High Specialization

  • Pollution

  • Invasive Species

  • Human-wildlife Conflict

  • Disease

  • Genetic Vulnerability

  • Small Population

Of these top 10, five are due to human effect... (those in bold)


Overhunting/harvesting

This is just as it sounds. If we over hunt or harvest we will diminish the population without giving it a chance to reproduce.


Habitat Loss

Some habitat loss is natural like when the dinosaurs went extinct; however, a large amount is is human caused by housing, industry, and agriculture.

To "clear" land is to remove all trees and vegetation from piece of land.

If a tree is destroyed (like in the Amazon Rainforest) other species that live in said tree are at risk of endangerment.


Pollution

A specific example of how pollution is effecting species is the Declining Amphibian Phenomenon. Amphibians are at the highest rate of endangerment due to their sensitivity to the environment.