U.S. Declares Ivory-Billed Woodpecker and 23 Other Species Extinct


After years of empty searches, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service has just declared more than 20 species extinct. The list of extinct species has one plant, a bat, two fish, eight freshwater mussels, eleven birds. Moving these species from the ‘endangered species’ list to the ‘extinct’ list marks the end of official search efforts to find them.

The “Legendary” Ivory-Billed Woodpecker

One of the more popular birds, the ivory-billed woodpecker (Campephilus principalis), is endemic to the southeast United States and Cuba. This bird hasn’t had a confirmed siting in decades, and thus, some officials have concluded that the bird has died out entirely. There doesn’t appear to be a consensus on the matter; some believe that its premature to give up searching for Campephilus principalis.

Delaying the extinction declaration may be helpful for future search missions. Once a species has been officially deemed extinct, its likely that searches will cease completely, placing limits on conservation efforts, funding and incentives for further research on the species. However, this is not a sufficient reason to keep an unfruitful search going.

The disappearance of the ivory-billed woodpecker foreshadows the looming fate for species in wetlands around the world, as these ecological systems are especially sensitive to flooding, temperature fluctuations and drought. Extinctions can have several different causes. In some cases, the causes may be naturally-occurring: changes in average temperatures or climate could make an environment unsuitable for habitation or reproduction. Another possibility, a disease eradicates the members of a species. That said, we can not rule out human activities as a possible proximate cause in the ivory-billed woodpeckers disappearance. If this is the case, environmental degradation would likely have been a driving force.

Wetlands

The destruction and logging of America’s forests could have played an role in shrinking populations of the ivory-billed woodpecker. The ivory-billed woodpecker’s are known to inhabit forests close to water. The trees of wetlands are usually where they make their nests.

Wetlands are environments where water inundates land either seasonally or year-round. Wetlands exist on almost every landmass on Earth, and are characterized by the specialized type of vegetation that grows in wet soil. There are multiple kinds of wetlands: coastal wetlands exist along coasts and are tolerant of saltwater. inland or non-tidal, on the other hand, interact with freshwater rivers or streams.

Wetlands are hailed as nurseries for wildlife because of the vast amount of wildlife that are supported within them. Protecting wetland biodiversity will effectively help preserve unique species of plants, animals and microorganisms. Proper management of these ecological systems will greatly enhance the odds of salvaging other types of organisms and protect the ecological services that they provide.


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