Extinction – What is it?

What is Extinction? 

Extinction is a process rather than just an ecological term. It is a process of which groups of organisms on the planet die out and there are no longer any individuals of that species present on the planet. Extinction is a natural phenomenon predicted by Charles Darwin in his theory of evolution.

His theory bases this phenomenon on the process that a species will go extinct if it not able to adapt to changes in its environment or effectively compete with other organisms in its natural environment (this is why invasive species are such a problem for conservationists!)

How does it happen? 

Individuals who have low ability to adapt to their changing environment are most at risk of extinction. These environmental changes can be brought out by natural processes such as Climate Change (which is sped up by human activity), natural disasters, low genetic variation and other human induced factors such as pollution, hunting too much of the pollution, poaching and the spread of invasive species – which is often facilitated by human activity.

Extinction can also come about due to the spread of disease, newly introduced predators, invasive species that out-compete native species for resources, change in genetics and many more.

Are there ways of preventing it? 

Ultimately extinction will become a real risk when a population is showing signs that they are not adapting well to the ever-changing environment that they are a part of. This is when conservations have concern on the future of this species in a specific region and methods to manage the population in a sustainable manner in order to prevent future decline are thought up, when possible.

General ways of preventing extinction in the wild for a species (although each case is unique) would be captive breeding, re-introduction, translocation, predator control, habitat management and teaming up with all stakeholders to collaborate on the conservation of the species. By having people close to the source and the local stakeholders together to aim for the goal of improving the population status of a species is hugely important and can ultimately define how successful a conservation project like this would be!

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