An endangered species is a population of organisms which is facing a high risk of becoming extinct because it is either few in numbers, or threatened by changing environmental or predation parameters. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has calculated the percentage of endangered species.
Many nations have laws offering protection to conservation reliant species: for example, forbidding hunting, restricting land development or creating preserves.
Only a few of the many species at risk of extinction actually make it to the lists and obtain legal protection like Pandas. Many more species become extinct, or potentially will become extinct, without gaining public notice.
The conservation status of a species is an indicator of the likelihood of that endangered species becoming extinct. Many factors are taken into account when assessing the conservation status of a species, including statistics such as the number remaining, the overall increase or decrease in the population over time, breeding success rates, known threats, and so on. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is the best-known worldwide conservation status listing and ranking system.
It has been estimated that over 40% of all living species on Earth are at risk of going extinct. Internationally, 199 countries have signed an accord agreeing to create Biodiversity Action Plans to protect endangered and other threatened species. In the United States this plan is usually called a species Recovery Plan.
Impact on biodiversity and endangered species
In order to conserve the biodiversity of the planet, one must take into consideration the reasons why so many species are becoming endangered. "Habitat loss is the most widespread cause of species endangerment in the U.S., affecting 85% of imperilled species". When an animal's ecosystem is not maintained, they lose their home and are either forced to adapt to new surroundings or perish. Pollution is another factor that causes many species to become endangered. Also, over-exploitation, disease (Wilcove & Master, 2008, p. 416), and climate change have led to the endangerment of several species.
Humans have an impact on the species and their environment. "As human use of resources, energy, and space intensified over the past few centuries, the diversity of life has been substantially diminished in most parts of the world."
Humans also set standards for which species they think should be saved and which species they find unimportant or undesirable. For example, the coquí frog, an invasive species in Hawaii, is so common there that its "nocturnal singing" reduces the value of homes and prevents hotels from using rooms near forests. Hawaiians have proposed eliminating the frog, and several wildlife managers want to release a pathogen to kill the frogs .The frog has decreased the value of homes and caused a loss of business for several hotels, so the Hawaiians decided it was acceptable to get rid of the group of coquí frog living near them.
In another example where humans affected the welfare of a species, non-native mute swans started establishing themselves at Arrowhead Lake in Vermont. When the population of swans grew to eight birds, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department decided to take action. Two swans were eventually killed, angering animal welfare organizations and people living near the lake.
Yet another example of the human impact in the lives of endangered species is that of the Preble's meadow jumping mouse. Research has shown that the mouse is not taxonomically different from the Bear Lodge meadow jumping mouse and the US Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed removing the Preble's mouse from the endangered species list based on this information.
It is the goal of conservationists to create and expand upon ways to preserve endangered species and maintain biodiversity. There...