Rare Animal Species are Vital to Ecosystem Functioning

When a rare animal species native to a biodiversity hotspot goes extinct, the entire ecosystem is at risk.

The loss of a rare animal species has cascading effects on ecosystems, according to a study by researchers at the National Institute of Amazonian Research in Manaus, Brazil. Rare species occupy important environmental niches. These species often make specialized contributions to the ecosystem that no other species can. Such contributions might be seed dispersal, filtering water, and keeping prey populations in check. If one of these specialized, rare species goes extinct, it means trouble for the rest of the species that make up the ecosystem.

Island Conservation Science Noddy on Jarvis
Brown Noddy on Jarvis Island. Photo: Alex Weggman/Island Conservation

Losing rare species today may mean losing much more complex processes in the long term. -Lead author Rafael Leitão, a biologist at the National Institute of Amazonian Research in Manaus, Brazil

Island Conservation Science Rare Bird
Female Polynesian Ground. Photo: Caroline Blanvillain

The loss of a rare species is particularly problematic on islands, where species are often specially adapted to perform specific roles in the ecosystem. The introduction of invasive species proves disruptive and dangerous for these ecosystems that depend on the survival of each native species.

Read more at SciDevNet

Feature photo: Stefan Boness/Panos

About Sara Kaiser

Sara received a BA in anthropology from UC Santa Cruz in 2014. As a freelance writer and editor, she seeks to produce and highlight stories that support ecological responsibility, body awareness, emotional intelligence, and creative action, and reveal the connections between them.

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