Biodiversity can be defined as a measure of life forms’ variation. Millions of species contribute to the biodiversity of a certain region or area. According to Miller and Spoolman (2008), “the balance between formation of new species and extinction of existing species determines the Earth’s biodiversity.” As a rule, the diversity of living forms is much higher in areas with mild and tropical climate, whereas polar regions pose significant restrictions to the species varieties. The very definition of a term “species” is imprecise and may vary among such life forms as bacterial and non-bacterial. Generally, the definition of species refers to the level of specific features’ identity or genetic similarity.
In a course of evolution, life forms underwent numerous and diverse transformations. The majority of species that ever existed is gone, while those that remain are constantly struggling for survival. As different species congregate into the ecosystem, they all are engaged in the complicated interrelationship. The extinction of any life form leads to the disastrous consequences for all others within an ecosystem, as the balance is extremely precise. Thus, biologists perceive the species preservation as an ultimate goal that amounts to separate scientific discipline. The Conservation Biology is a branch of science concerned with the species protection and biodiversity preservation. As different species contribute to the ecosystem health unequally, conservation biologists treat the most important genera with highest priority. Efforts involved in the ecosystems preservation are versatile; therefore, the conservation biologists closely interact with other scientific and economic disciplines.
According to Miller and Spoolman (2008), biologists define species heading toward biological extinction as either endangered or threatened. “An endangered species has so few individual survivors that the species could soon become extinct” (Miller & Spoolman). The loss of natural habitat is one of the reasons that put species into the endangered category. For instance, the giant panda became endangered because its only habitat in the Central China continually shrinks. Scientific estimates for the wild population of giant panda account for 1500 to 3000 remaining individuals (Miller & Spoolman, 2008).
A threatened species, on the other hand, is “…still abundant in its natural range but, because of declining numbers, is likely to become endangered in the near future” (Miller & Spoolman, 2008). The threatened species can be exemplary represented by Ariocarpus kotschoubeyanus. Massive agricultural exploration has affected this Mexican cactus to the point of scientific concern (Baur and Irvin, 2010).
The species extinction is a natural process. Scientists agree on more than 99% of ever existing life forms to be extinct in a course of evolution. Apart from mass devastation caused by the glacial age and other natural catastrophes, there is a steady extinction rate of about one species per million species per year (Baur & Irvin, 2010). However, human activities also contribute to the extinction process. It was the case with Baiji, or Chinese freshwater dolphin, which became extinct as recently as in 2002. The extensive industrialized river use has exterminated this species in a few decades.
The conservation biology has achieved a significant progress in understanding threats and developing programs for the ecosystems preservation. Current international regulations imply that the “…threatened species are entitled to the same level of conservation as endangered” (Baur & Irvin, 2010). The concentrated efforts of biologists and environmentalists can slow down the extinction by restricting the industrial impact on the climate change. Meanwhile, the controlled reproduction programs are essential in preserving species that are threatened or endangered.