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Usefulness of predicting species population

  1. Jan 1, 2017 #1
    I recently read this article. It discusses how we can use statistical methods to provide estimates of species population given little information about the actual population and other factors that make up the ecosystem. This is all fine, and i understand the importance of obtaining information about a system given limited information on initial conditions etc.

    What i'm not sure i understand is the importance or significance of obtaining an estimate of a population of species, in general. The article talks briefly about how knowledge of this information would allow us to know how much wildlife would be eradicated in deforestation. and also about preserving said wildlife. Which i suppose is pretty significant in and of itself. Maybe since it is not my background i am failing to see that this is indeed very important. But for what it's worth, is there anything else?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 1, 2017 #2

    jim mcnamara

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    Staff: Mentor

    About 100 years ago we started losing large mammal species in Africa. Many of the larger animals in Preserves and Parks are the only extant animals of the species. Nothing was done until there were literally just small groups of them. Mountain gorillas in Uganda are an example. Humans often think of animals as resources that are essentially infinite. And act accordingly. Have you heard of so-called factory ships?

    They are ultra efficient at catching fish. Read the section on overfishing and population collapse. This is the assumption 'resources are infinite' problem.

    When populations are on the brink of a crash is the best time to kick into high gear to keep the species going. Why? Because there are often ripple effects of population crashes. Deer in the US are a huge problem in suburban areas. Which is a direct result of the removal of all predators. And environmental change - housing development encroaching on forested land. A deer explosion. Raccoons are in the same category.

    So keeping projections of populations can work in our favor in both directions - limiting both crashes and explosions. Simply because we know both going to have "blowback", unintended consequences.
  4. Jan 1, 2017 #3


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    The article is about the number of species in an ecosystem.
    They are talking about rather large areas (like the Ghats or Amazon), which to me seem like more than one ecosystem, but I'm not a ecologist.
    At first I though you were talking about the number of individuals in a species's population which has deals with different questions, but its the number of species.

    To an ecologist, I would guess, this is interesting because its a major question ecologists would like to be able to predict (described in the article).

    The numbers of species in species rich areas (like the Ghats and Amazon) contribute significantly to the earth's overall number of species.
    It has been said that the earth is now in the arthropocene (humans leaving long term markers in the geological record) and that the earth is now losing species at a great rate.
    Loss of species numbers is thought to be limiting to ecological robustness and future evolution of new species (it takes species to make new species).

    There are probably other ways this is significant.
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