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The Role of Individual Species

The Role of Individual Species

Author: Jensen Morgan

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Source: Earth PD Wolf CC

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Hi, I'm Jensen Morgan. We're going to talk about some great concepts in environmental science. Today's topic is the role of individual species. So let's get started. We're going to talk about two different perspectives on the value of species, and the importance of biodiversity.

Species can be valued in two ways. First, they can be valued for the ecosystem services that they provide. Remember, ecosystem services are provisioning services such as food, fiber, fuels, fresh water, and medicine, regulating services like climate regulation, water purification, and pollination, cultural services such as religious, or spiritual value, recreation, educational use, and aesthetic value, and supporting services like nutrient cycling, formation of soil, production of energy from sunlight. Species who can perform one or more of these services, especially if no other species can, are seen as valuable and are preserved.

For example, certain keystone species such as the mountain lion have had significant efforts devoted to the protection. Mountain lions manage multiple species population numbers and keep ecosystems in balance so that many ecosystem services can be provided. Within this perspective, the mountain lion is valuable and must be protected.

The second perspective is intrinsic value, meaning that the environment is seen as valuable, not as a means to an end, but as an end unto itself. It is valuable because it exists. For example, someone with this perspective might find value in wilderness areas that have no human use because they're intrinsically valuable. This viewpoint means that the environment is seen as worth protecting regardless of its value for human use, and it also means that all species are valued equally and should be protected as such.

In addition to a species individual value their existence contributes overall biodiversity, which is an important piece of what keeps ecosystems healthy and balanced, and inevitably provides ecosystem services for humans. Biodiversity can also be seen as valuable from an intrinsic standpoint. An example of the importance of biodiversity would be the impacts within an ecosystem if biodiversity decreases.

For example, if wolf species were to decrease or disappear, an important system of population management would vanish. The result would set off a chain reaction of effects that would threaten or make other species go extinct. Over time as biodiversity declined, the balance and health of the ecosystem would decline along with it, providing ecosystem services less and less for human use. The ecosystem as a whole might fail or take many years to recover.

Now let's have a recap. We talked about two different perspectives on the value of species, ecosystem services and intrinsic value, as well as the importance of biodiversity. Well, that's all for today. I look forward to next time. Bye.