Why should I care about endangered species? Isn't this just "survival of the fittest?"

Although the idea of "survival of the fittest" plays a small role in the disappearance of certain species, human influence plays a much bigger role. As a result of pollution and several other factors, many different species of animals are facing extinction. When one species dies, the entire community will be affected, and as a result, the entire ecosystem will be affected. The result of extinction is a chain reaction and at some point humans will be affected too.
- Jenny Godwin

Extinction is a natural life process that has been happening before humans even came into existence. Usually, the extinction process is quelled by the process of speciation -- the development of new species. However, because of air and water pollution, forest clearing, loss of wetlands, and other man-induced environmental changes, extinctions are now occurring at a rate that far exceeds the speciation rate. Basically, we are loosing species faster than they are being replenished leaving earth with declining numbers of animals and lower diversity. All life on earth is interconnected. If enough "living connections" are broken, whole ecosystems could fail the balance of nature could be forever altered, and our own survival could be jeopardized. Lastly, plants and animals provide us with things such as medicines and food. Sometimes their contributions can even be life saving. If we loose that specie, we forever loose the benefits that they provide as well.

-Danielle vonWaldow

The effect of losing a species to extinction has a far greater impact than you would imagine. Every single organism has a niche in their respective ecosystem. As an organism disappears, there is not always another organism in the same ecosystem that has the ability to fill in that niche. For example, if an apex predator predator in a food chain dies out, the population of the second highest organism on the food chain will continue to increase because there is no longer any threat to it. With more and more of these second level predators, they will demand more from the levels in the food chain below them. These lower levels will not possibly be able to satisfy the new apex predators because they cannot increase the speed at which they reproduce. The high demand will eventually demolish the numbers of the smaller animals which are considered prey. Now, the apex predators will either die due to lack of food or be forced to relocate into a new ecosystem which will in turn throw off the balance of that too. There are extreme repercussions across an entire ecosystem even with the loss of one species in it. Humans must be concerned because of the population fluctuations that occur. Overpopulation of some species such as deer becomes a nuisance and a hazard to health because of the potential to hit one while driving. On the flipside, underpopulation creates an economic problem for humans. If a human's favorite food is salmon and the salmon population is decreasing, then the market price for salmon will drastically increase and force the human in a position to either overpay or give up his favorite food altogether. An ecosystem is not all about survival of the fittest by any means. Since every organism has a niche, an ecosystem depends on the survival of all of its organisms. I believe the survival of the fittest concept only applies within species of organisms and not within ecosystems. Competition between members of the same species for resources is the idea of survival of the fittest, and not competition amongst separate species for resources.
- Vinay Viswanathan

Endangered species are often times not part of nature's "survival of the fittest". It is quite common for endangered species to have their state of near extinction precipitated by humans. The use of DDT by human farmers placed many birds, as highly publicized in Rachel Carson's Silent Spring in the 1960, in threat of extinction. Additionally, many, perhaps even the majority, of the endangered plants and animals enumerated by the others in our class on this Wikispace. Ecosystems also rely on the balance of various organisms. If organisms perish based on unnatural causes, the balance of various organisms is disrupted. Particularly, when humans cause a species to become endangered it is our duty to remediate this issue because our needs should not be at the expense of other organisms. Also, each organism has its place in not just its community, or its population, or even its trophic level, but generally in its ecosystem. When organisms go endangered, especially when this is due to humans and other unnatural causes, they lose their place in an ecosystem and this change, almost all the time, has implications. For example, the California Condor is a scavenger and feeds on dead organisms. As a result, it “cleans” the ecosystem of waste. With the lack of California Condors in California and Arizona presently, the ecosystem is likely witnessing excess amounts of carrion. “Survival of the fittest” works when natural competition and competitive exclusion stratify populations in an ecosystem often, but there are, particularly nowadays with signs of human effects on the environment increasingly abundant, many exceptions to Darwin’s mantra.

- Carleton Gibson

Endangered species affect us more than we realize. Without these species or any species, in fact, Earth would not be what it is today. When one species in an ecosystem goes extinct, that ecosystem along with all other ecosystems are affected. If a species becomes extinct there are no other species that can take on its role in the ecosystem. Because of that role, the rest of the wildlife in the same ecosystem will have to adapt to the new conditions. Lots of times this will create more competition within the same ecosystem making survival much more difficult or impossible for weaker species. A chain reaction of dying species will then occur within the ecosystem. Sometimes, the adaptations for species are to migrate to other ecosystems which in turn, again, creates more competition in the new ecosystem. The increase of competition creates an increased demand for resources. These thinning resources will not last forever with higher demands. Overtime they will diminish and with them the species, and with the species we will diminish. Humans rely on species' resources as well as the actual plant/animal. If they all disappear, how will humans survive? Also, "survival of the fittest" was not formed with respect to entire ecosystems; it is a term used to describe the competition within a specie. "Survival of the fittest" tells that certain members of a specie may die, but other members can make proper adaptations. That way the particular specie never becomes extinct; it only changes.
~Anna Siegfried

Extinction is a natural process that has been occurring since long before man existed. Normally, new species form when one species becomes extinct. However, due to deforestation, air pollution, water pollution, loss of wetland, and other human climate changes, new species are not occurring and the rate of species becoming extinct is increasing.These species that are becoming endangered provide us with food and life saving medicines, without this, these benefits provided may be gone forever. Each species that becomes extinct lowers the diversity and complexity of life on earth. All of life is interconnected and if enough species become extinct, the whole balance of our ecosystem can become altered. Although this doesn't seem like much, these alterations can jeopardize the survival of mankind.
- Emily Schmitt

Most people should care about endangered or threatened species because these species bring something valuable to their community and ecosystem. Plants and animals are responsible for a variety of useful medications. In fact, about forty percent of all prescriptions written today are composed from the natural compounds of different species. These species not only save lives, but they contribute to a prospering pharmaceutical industry worth over $40 billion annually. Unfortunately, only 5% of known plant species have been screened for their medicinal values, although we continue to lose up to 100 species daily. The Pacific yew, a slow-growing tree found in the ancient forests of the Pacific Northwest, was historically considered a "trash" tree (it was burned after clearcutting). However, a substance in its bark taxol was recently identified as one of the most promising treatments for ovarian and breast cancer. Additionally, more than 3 million American heart disease sufferers would perish within 72 hours of a heart attack without digitalis, a drug derived from the purple foxglove.
-Troy Baltutat

Ever since industrialization became popularized, many species have been severely affected. Whether or not emission from factories has polluted the air quality or trees have been cut down to make way for new developments, humans have been destroying the habitats of many vulnerable animals. It is true that each species undergo changes over time, which may cause them to evolve or go extinct, but the human interference in their environment has tremendously increased this natural process. Because people, especially during the late 1800s and early 1900s, have been negligent to the animal's surroundings and resources, an outstanding amount of once plentiful species have become scarce or have died out. Now that these animals and plants are gone from the earth forever, resources that we as humans need are also gone. By disrupting one plant or animal in the food chain, all trophic levels are affected. We may be at the top trophic level, but little by little, when the 1st or 2nd levels begin to decrease the amount of species, we will be deeply affected. The endangered animals and plants are the first signs of diminishing resources, resources we need to have plenty of in order to maintain the needs of other organisms including ourselves. These animals/plants are vital to our entire eco-system and must be replenished in order to sustain our needs.
-Hannah Wilhelm

While extinction is a natural process and some species of animal do eventually die out, recent times have shown a faster rate of extinction among different species as a result of human development. If this trend continues, the entire world ecosystem could be greatly affected. In a single ecosystem, each animal has its own niche that it performs that affects the other organisms around it. Without the cooperation of each member, there could be negative affects throughout the entire ecosystem. This theory applies to the world ecosystem as well. If humans carelessly destroy a single chain in the cycle of the environment, that ignorance could negatively impact many more than a single species. Potentially, the extinction of one “unimportant” species could lead to the extinction of a species that we, as humans, rely on. So while it is unreasonable to expect to be able to save every species, it is necessary for humans to be conscious of how they are affecting a plethora of other organisms by letting one die out.
--Sam Scarpino

Although endangered species seem like a natural occurrence, the loss of certain animals in our ecosystem could affect us more than we think. Many foods and medicines that we depend on for our own survival are derived from threatened species. Once these threatened species actually become extinct, it could harm out entire population by ruining certain live-saving drugs or important agricultural crops. As man-made problems like deforestation, pollution, and loss of wetlands increase, the rate of speciation cannot make up for the rate of extinction. Therefore, the idea that all life is inter-connected and depends on one another shows that the increased rate of extinction could have a severe affect on all animals, including humans.

-Anna Meenen

Each ecosystem has a balance to it. Every organism and creature that naturally belong in a certain region plays has a niche and plays a role to help keep that ecosystem alive. Most endangered species become endangered because humans have destroyed their habitats for some sort of land development or from pollution. When this is the case, humans should do all that they can to help endangered animals to survive. If a species dies out in an unnatural and untimely way the balance of the ecosystem will be radically altered because a role is no longer being fulfilled. If this happens, that ecosystem may not be able to provide the resources that we need to survives and it may not be able to provide the necessities that other species need to survive as well.
- Chris Beaulieu

It is very important that we understand and care about all of these endangered species. Although it is "survival of the fittest", many of these species are dying out due to human impact. Many of these species are in fact very important in our lives. These plants and animals are responsible for providing us with clean water, food, healthy ecosystems, and even medicine. Particular species even provide thousands of people with jobs. For example, there are over 10,000 U.S. jobs in the mussel industry. But, today those jobs are decreasing due to the 43% loss of mussels. So while it seems as though these endangered species have no meaning in our lives, they actually do. Yes, some species will become extinct, and there will be nothing humans can do about it. But, for many types of species there are things we can do to save them. And we do need to save as many species as we can, for most likely we depend on this endangered species for one thing or another.
-Kristen Walczak

It is important to understand that animals and plants becoming endangered are critical occurrences in our environment. Every creature is interlinked with every other species in some way. It is true that natural selection and survival of the fittest have exterminated many species in our planets existence, but that does not mean that endangered species today are endangered actually due to humans as a main cause, not "natural" selection. Humans interfere by taking away habitats, over harvesting, over hunting, and many other forms. Humans take advantage of the planet they inhabit, and other creatures pay the price. So it is unjust to say that the current endangered species are dying off solely because of survival of the fittest and natural selection.
-Steve Machi