The extinction crisis is a phenomenon characterized by a dramatic decline in the population of particular species and their consequent disappearance. As frightening as it sounds, such crises are predominantly natural, and the world has already seen six waves of species extinction. However, while the previous crises could be attributed to natural disasters such as asteroid strikes, the current one is caused directly by humans. This paper will discuss a recent study by Serrouya et al., the proposed adaptive management approach, and the broader context of the issue.
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Article Review: Research Questions, Study Design, and Findings
The research question posed by Serrouya et al. could sound as follows: “How effective is adaptive management for saving endangered species?” In their study, the authors examined the population of woodland caribou in Alberta, British Columbia. The animal has become the first big mammal extirpated in the United States, and the remnants of the population in Canada are now being vigorously protected. Serrouya et al. reason that adaptive management is often used for studying complex ecosystems but rarely finds practical use such as their restoration. Thus, they applied multiple recovery options (elimination of natural predators, transfer, and haven creation), covering more than 90,000km2 of land (Serrouya et al. 1).
The theoretical framework of adaptive management provided Serrouya et al. with tools to tackle uncertainty and predict the association between the intensity of treatment and a positive outcome. After the recovery options were implemented, 8 out of 12 populations under investigation showed an improvement in the number of animals (Serrouya et al. 2). Serrouya et al. concluded that the critical factor to their success was the spatial and numerical intensity of treatment.
Human Ecology and Sustainability
A skeptical mind might inquire as to how species extinction affects humans if their lives do not directly depend on them as opposed to domestic animals. It is possible to bring in many examples of the special relationship between nature and humankind and the not-so-obvious association between humans’ wellbeing and some species. For instance, a decline in the bee population is already resulting in continued losses for farmers depending on pollination. Another example is specific animals serving as a buffer between humans and pathogens. Lastly, unique species provide material for medical studies and help humans understand complex biochemical processes.
Serrouya et al. offered a workable solution for endangered species recovery. However, the researchers admit that their study had certain limitations, for instance, the lack of replication for some treatment options. Since the research was innovative and applied only to one species, the findings might not be precisely inferential. The study gives a general idea as to what a practical approach to slowing species extinction might be. As mentioned by Serrouya et al., a suitable method must entail putting forward a hypothesis and adjusting other studies’ data to the context of a given issue. Further, Serrouya et al. capitalize on the importance of collaboration between several entities – scientists, governments, and locals.
The consensus is that humankind is to blame for habitat fragmentation, animal overexploitation, and global changes that lead to poor reproduction and population decline. Serrouya et al. made a successful attempt at applying adaptive management tools to caribou populations in Alberta, British Columbia. Their study showed that species extinction requires a sophisticated approach that would draw from previous studies and help make a prognosis about outcomes.
The extinction crisis is already affecting humankind, depriving farmers of the benefits of pollination and exposing people to pathogens. Effective treatment solutions need to be adjustable to the conditions of a chosen area and involve a mutual effort of several bodies and institutions.
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Serrouya, Robert, et al. “Saving Endangered Species Using Adaptive Management.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2019, pp. 1-6. Web.