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Chapter 57

Study Guide for Chapter 57


Biological Sciences
Course Code
Mary Olaveson

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Biology – Chapter 57
Conservation Biology: An applied scientific discipline devoted to preserving the diversity
of life on Earth
Human interference with different habitats and ecosystems have greatly increased the rate of
Normative: The embracing of certain values and the application of the scientific
method in order to achieve these values. Conservation biology is a
normative scientific discipline
Conservation biology is guided by 3 principles:
1. Evolution is the process that unites all of biology (you must know how evolutionary
processes generate and maintain biodiversity to be able to preserve it)
2. The ecological world is dynamic therefore they is no “balance of nature that serves as a
goal of conservation
3. Humans are a part of ecosystems; human activities need to be incorporated into
conservation goals and practices
Although the processes of species extinction is a natural one, which has been done for millions
of years, conservation biology aims to prevent the extinction of animals
For the first time in history, one species of ecosystem engineers (humans) are the cause of all
major environmental changes, which disrupts the natural course of extinction/evolution of
different species
-The value of biodiversity to humans
- Humans depends on other species for food, fibre and medicine
- Humans derive aesthetic pleasure from interacting with other organisms
- Causing the extinction of other species raises serious ethical issues
- Extinctions make the study of ecological relationships and species interactions
o More species lost/extinct, the more harder it is to understand the structure and
the functioning of ecological communities and ecosystems
- Species are necessary for the function of the ecosystems of which they are part
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It is difficult for scientists to determine an accurate number of extinction that will occur in the
future because of the following reasons:
We do not know how many species live on Earth
We do not know where many species live
It is difficult to determine when a species becomes extinct
We do not know what will happen in the future
However there are ways of estimating when extinctions will occurs, such as:
Species-are relationship: A well established mathematical relationship between the size of
and area and the number of species that live there
Using this, scientists determined, on average, that a 90% loss in habitat will result in the loss of
50% of the species dependent on that habitat
Conservation biologists use a statistical model that incorporates information about population
size, genetic variation, morphology, physiology, and behaviour to determine the risk of
population becoming extinct
Endangered species: Species in imminent danger of extinction in all or a significant part of their
Threatened Species: those that are likely to become endangered in the near future
Species whose populations shrink very rapidly or species with special habitat or dietary
requirements are more likely to become extinct than species that have more generalized
Some causes of species extinction include:
- Habitat destruction/modification
- The introduction of foreign species
- Overexploitation
- Climate change
Habitat Loss
Habitat loss is the primary cause of species endangerment in the U.S. especially those that live in
Habitat Fragmentation: The isolation and reduction in size of habitats due to the
destruction of other habitats
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