Posts Tagged ‘species discovery’

On biodiversity and conservation and the number of frog species

September 17, 2011

One of the politically correct and alarmist themes that pervades the conservation movement is that biodiversity is vital and is dangerously threatened. Generally biodiversity can be considered to include

  1. gene diversity within a particular species, and
  2. species diversity within some particular region
Sometimes having different ecosystems and environments within a particular region is also included as being a form of ecological biodiversity. Yet it has always been inexplicable to me as to why human intervention for the protection of a species which has been out-competed by other species is not considered unnatural and artificial. Extinction of species happens naturally as a consequence of natural selection and evolution as some species succeed and others fail. If species did not fail and become extinct there would be diminishing space for evolution of other species. More species are thought to have become extinct than are in existence today.
I find that there is a fundamental conflict between allowing evolution to happen naturally with successful species (and that includes humans) eliminating unsuccessful species and the conservationist view of interfering with this normal development in favour of artificially maintaining failed species.
Conservationism at heart is a conservative (with a small “c”) and backward looking philosophy trying to prevent development and evolution because of fear. I suppose that is why I find “conservationsim” unattractive – because it is based on fear subordinating actions and that – by definition – is cowardice. King Canute trying to hold back the tide!
As I have posted earlier: The problem is not only that we have not identified all the eukaryote species in existence (and about 1.3 million have been classified and named) but we have no idea whether the number in existence is to be measured in millions or in hundreds of millions. About 15,000 new species are identified and catalogued each year. If  Bacteria and Archaea are added to eukaryotes, the total number of species could be in the billions.
Vub night frog
And with so many species around why should humans interfere to protect some but not others. In fact some species are considered interlopers in some regions and then conservation is all about exterminating these.
We do not know how many frog species exist and new species are being “discovered” continuously. Species thought to have become extinct are rediscovered. Of course a “discovery” of a species has nothing to say about how long that species has been in existence. And the importance of any particular species to the future of humans and the environment humans survive and thrive in is an unknown unknown.
Wired  – which is a very politically correct on-line journal – reports that 12 New and 3 Lost Night-Frog Species Discovered in India. Researchers in India have found a dozen new frog species belonging to the night frog group, named for their nocturnal habits, and rediscovered three species, one of which had not been seen in nearly a century. The findings appeared in the journal Zootaxa on Sept. 15. …… half of the newly discovered species reproduce without any physical contact between the sexes, with the female depositing her eggs on a leaf and the males later fertilizing them.
All the frogs were spotted in a region known as the Western Ghats, a mountain range than runs along the western coast of India that has been identified as one of the ten hottest biodiversity hotspots in the world. Because of the small area they occupy, at least six of the new species are sensitive to habitat loss and will require immediate steps toward conservation.
I find the conclusion that “the new species are sensitive to habitat loss and will require immediate steps toward conservation”  illogical and inexplicable.
Why interfere?
Just the number of articles about frogs in Wired in recent times further deepens the mystery. It only demonstrates all we don’t know that we don’t know. Even if out of fear of what is to come, humans were to try and intervene and protect every discovered species, the intervention would still fail and would not return us to the time of the dinosaurs.

Conservationism – as an ism – has no clear purpose that I can see.

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