Evolution Aids Conservation
Before we go further, I want to make it clear that we are not environmentalists. We do not consider the conservation of animal or plant species a primary concern. It is not to be held above the industrial progress of man.
If man is to prosper, then sometimes it may be necessary to drive certain species to extinction. This is unfortunate, but we in no way support impeding progress for the sake of the conservation of species.
Also, despite what some ecologists might tell you, the Earths ecosystem is not nearly as fragile as they might want you to believe. We can lose many species without destroying our ability to thrive on Earth or destroying the entire ecosystem. In fact, we are objectively better off without certain species.
In any case, we can have a rational interest in the conservation of various species. And as long as we are not sacrificing greater values or initiating force against others, then there can be no objection to efforts to conserve interesting species. Especially those vital to various industries.
How is evolution helpful to conservation?
If a species is doing poorly, knowledge of the evolution of that species can help us understand what can be done to help it.
It might be doing poorly due to its small size. As a result, it has low genetic diversity which means that beneficial mutations are less likely to spread through the small population. But, if we understand the evolution of different populations of the same species, we may be able to identify important genetic differences between populations.
We can then try to mingle members of these populations or take other steps in order to attempt to spread these desired genetic differences among populations. Therefore, helping to increase the population’s fitness and helping the population’s numbers to stabilize or even increase.
Knowing the evolutionary history of related species may help us better understand the species we are trying to preserve. If we can understand how these related species adapted to environmental challenges or perhaps failed to, then we may be in a better position to help the species under current consideration.
Evolution can also help us prioritize which species we should focus on. Given limited resources, it is not reasonable to expect that we could converse every endangered species. But, an understanding of evolution can help us prioritize the conservation of species which may increase overall biodiversity.
If you did not do so already, perhaps now you will be able to appreciate the importance of evolution much better, or from a different perspective. Or perhaps reading this article was yet another opportunity for you to marvel at the wonder of evolution and its many amazing applications, as we do!