Mo Yi Lam
Nov 30th, 2010
Final Paper (Summary of Endangered Species Act)
Endangered Species Act
“What is an endangered species?” is a question that needs to be addressed before getting known of endangered species act. An endangered species is a population of organisms which is at risk of becoming extinct due to three possible reasons: it is few in numbers. According to the theory of Exponential Growth Curve proposed by Malthus, a lower population tends to have a lower reproductive rate and thus a higher risk of going extinct; or a species is threatened by changing environment. A species which fail to adapt a new environment by means such as mutation which creates new “fitting” genes tends to have a higher risk of going extinct; or it is affected predation parameters. In a community, defined as a group of interacting organisms sharing a populated environment, the population of a species is highly dependent on one another. If the predator population of a species is high, this can limit its reproductive rate and thus the population growth. International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is an organization which “helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges.” (IUCN “About IUCN”)According to one of its reports, the endangered species is 40% of all organisms, which has reached the stage of alarm that endangered species conservation policies must be implemented in no time. IUCN is a leading endangered species act organization which established the Red List of Threatened Species. It is the world’s most comprehensive measurement of the extinction levels of most species, dividing them into a of three categories: Extinct, Threatened and At lower risk. The first category consists of two conservation statuses: “Extinct” species refers to that which the last remaining member has died, or presumed beyond reasonable doubt to have died; “Extinct in the wild” species refers to a population which captive individuals survive, but there is no free-living, natural population. In the second category, there are three conservation statuses which are “critically endangered”, “endangered” and “vulnerable”. They differ in the risk of extinction; “critically endangered” species has the highest risk of extinction, followed by the remaining two. The third category consists of 3 conservation statuses: “conservation dependent”, “near threatened” and “least concern”, which differ from one another in terms of their needs to be included into conservation programs. By understanding the risk of going extinct of each species according to the Red List, international organizations and state governments can develop appropriate conservation program corresponding to each of them. Different graph and statistics about the situation of endangered species in the world have been collected:
Graph 1(IUCN Red List, 2007)
Graph 1 above shows the percentage species in several groups which are list in the second category: either critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable. As shown in the graph, amphibians have the relatively largest proportion (around 30%) in second category compared to other animal kingdoms, followed by mammals (around 20%) and birds (around 12.5%).
Graph 2(Prof. Kiefer, 2010)
Graph 2 is different from the first one in that it calculates the number but not the proportion. Mammals (around 400) have the highest number of endangered species, followed by birds (around 300) and amphibians (around 150). Graph 3 reveals the proportion of different species which are in the second and third category. Sturgeons have the largest proportion of the second category and wrasses and birds have the largest of the third category. On the other hand, Wrasses have the smallest proportion of the second category and sturgeons have the smallest of the third category.
Graph 3(IUCN Red List, 2010)
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