Endangered/ Threatened Species

Bald Eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus - Threatened
Changes to biome as a result of species loss:

The bald eagle is at the top of the food chain, therefore; it has the job of keeping the populations of species in lower trophic levels in check. Fish make up the majority of the bald eagles' diet, so without them certain populations of fish would increase too much, which would throw off the balance of the entire ecosystem. Secondly, bald eagles contribute to the idea of natural selection, a.k.a. survival of the fittest. The bald eagle preys on slower and weaker animals in the ecosystem which leaves only the strongest to survive and reproduce. Thirdly, the bald eagle is a opportunist- it commonly scavenges for food that is already weakened or killed by another creature. Scavengers are incredibly important in every ecosystem because they contribute to the decomposition of dead plants and animals. They do this by 'cleaning up' the environment- that is, by speeding up the decomposition process. Without the bald eagle (and other scavengers), the remains of dead animals would remain littered on the ground for a long time.

How this issue is being addressed:

The bald eagle is undoubtedly very important (seeing as it is our national symbol) and therefore the government is doing a lot to increase the bald eagle population. One of the best examples of this is the creation of the Bald Eagle Protection Act of 1940. This act punishes any persons who "take, possess, sell, purchase, barter, offer to sell, purchase or barter, transport, export or import, at any time or any manner, any bald eagle ... [or any golden eagle], alive or dead, or any part, nest, or egg thereof." The punishment varies, but it can be severe due a maximum fine of $100,000 and a possibility of imprisonment. This law is strictly enforced, especially in areas with struggling bald eagle populations. Hunters and trappers are aware of this law and its punishments, and as a result, bald eagle populations are increasing.

Dune Evening Primrose,Oenothera deltoides- Endangered

Changes to biome as a result of species loss:

Several species rely on the desert primrose as a source of food- one of them in particular being the desert tortoise. The desert tortoise population is already dwindling from other causes, so if this species lost one of its primary sources of food, it could possibly become extinct. Secondly, another species, the White-lined Sphinx Moth, is also dependent upon the desert primrose. In fact, these two species are heavily dependent upon each other. The moth relies on the primrose as a source of food while the primrose relies on the moth for pollinating. The larvae of the White-lined Sphinx moth would be the most affected because the primrose is basically its only source of food. If the larvae don't live to adulthood, the moth population would almost immediately diminish. Lastly, the desert biome would be affected in the aspect that it would be losing one of its main producers. Most plants are not able to survive in an environment as harsh the desert, so the desert lacks as many producers as other more temperate biomes such as rainforests. Needless to say, if the primrose became extinct there would be a deficit of energy in the ecosystem- energy that is needed by organisms in higher trophic levels to survive. The desert primrose is extremely important to the desert biome, and if it disappeared, the entire ecosystem would be affected.

How this issue is being addressed:

The main threat to the desert primrose is off- road vehicle use. Sand dunes are a popular place to go off-roading, and as a result, the primrose and many other fragile species are being harmed. The federal government has responded to this problem by creating laws stating that off-roading is illegal in certain parts of the US. These areas include deserts where sand dunes are present such as in Death Valley National Park. Thanks to these recently created laws, the primrose population is slowly increasing in number.

Works Cited:

"Eureka Dunes." National Park Service. N.p., 21 June 2008. Web. 1 November 2011. <http://www.nps.gov/deva/planyourvisit/eureka-dunes.htm>.

Hatcher, Bob. "Eagle Survival- Ecological Niche." American Eagle Foundation. N.p., July 2011. Web. 1 November 2011. <http://www.eagles.org>.

Royo, A.R. "Dune Evening Primrose." Desert USA. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 November 2011. <http://www.desertusa.com/mag99/jan/papr/deprimrose.html>.

"Scavenger." JRank. Net Industries, 2011. Web. 1 November 2011. <http://science.jrank.org/pages/5992/Scavenger.html>.

"Bald Eagle Management Guidelines and Conservation Measure." U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. N.p., 31 March 2010. Web. 1 November 2011.<http://www.fws.gov>.