All organisms die

Red List 2018Dies a animal out, is a whole Ecosystem threatened

Every year the WWF publishes the Red List. On it are endangered animal species. However, it is not only the animals that are threatened, but also the ecosystems in which they live.

If the African elephant were to become extinct, explains biologist Mario Ludwig, the consequences would be far-reaching. Some tree species, for example, only germinate if their seeds are eaten by elephants beforehand. If the elephants die out, so do the trees - and with them many other animals that depend on these trees, such as birds, insects and small mammals.

"If a single animal dies, many other animal and plant species could become extinct at the same time. And that in turn can destroy an entire ecosystem."

For the biologist Mario Ludwig, it makes no moral difference whether a beetle that is only known in specialist circles becomes extinct or a well-known and popular species, such as the panda. Because all animals have the same right to live - even those without a cuddle factor.

But there are species on which ecosystems are more dependent than others - and on which our survival as humans also depends. For example bees. If they were to become extinct, this would have serious consequences for all living things.

Humans increase the rate of extinction

The fact that species become extinct and new ones arise is part of evolution. Species newly discovered by humans are not necessarily newly created species. Many of them were already there and were simply not known to humans. The problem is that humans are massively increasing the natural rate of extinction.

"A great many species will die before we humans even know them."

Exactly how high the natural extinction rate is cannot be determined with certainty. According to projections by the American paleontologist Jack Sepkoski, it is three species per year. According to calculations by scientists, humans increase this rate by 1,000 to 10,000 times. They assume that around 1.5 million animal and plant species will become extinct in the next 25 years alone.

More on the subject:

  • Species extinction: the butterflies are disappearing | There are fewer and fewer butterflies in Germany. Many species have become extinct in the past few decades. Many do not find a suitable habitat.
  • Species extinction: If you die, I will die too | It doesn't always have to be a volcanic eruption, a meteorite impact or an ice age for entire animal or plant species to become extinct. In some cases, it appears that even a single plant disappeared was enough to cause mass extinction.