Understanding Conservation | National Wildlife Association (2023)

Species protection is the preservation and protection of animals, plants and their habitats. By protecting wildlife, we ensure that future generations can enjoy our natural world and the amazing species that live in it. To protect wildlife, it is important to understand how species interact in their ecosystems and how they are affected by environmental and human influences.


Plants and animals have life events that seem to flow like clockwork every year.Avescan migratemammalscan hibernate, the flowers bloom and the leaves change color. The study of how the biological world organizes these natural events in time is called phenology. Scientists now understand that plants and animals are inspired by their local climate (long-term weather patterns). Climate is influenced by non-biological factors: temperature, precipitation and available sunlight. Species use predictable annual climate changes to determine when natural events such as reproduction or flowering begin.

of Climate Changeaverage annual temperatures are slowly increasing. One of the most notable impacts of climate change on wildlife is disrupting the timing of natural events. With warmer temperatures, flowering plants bloom earlier in the year and migratory birds return from their wintering grounds in spring. Phenology is an important topic for conservationists because it helps us understand the patterns of specific species and the overall state of the ecosystem. Each species affects those in its food chain and community, and the timing of phenological events for one species can be very important to the survival of another species.

Food webs and bioaccumulation

The energy we get from food goes back to the sun. When the sun shines, it emits light energy.Plantarthey absorb light energy, convert it into sugar (photosynthesis) and produce energy for other wildlife. The sun's energy is moved through ecosystems by predators eating their prey. A food web breaks down how all the producers, consumers and decomposers in an ecosystem interact and how energy is transferred between species.

When animals eat their prey, they use more than just energy. They also absorb all of the prey's chemicals and nutrients. Animals sometimes ingest pollutants that can be stored in their fat and tissues. human causedpollutionadded heavy metals, petroleum, and industrial and pharmaceutical chemicals to the environment. Plants, fish, and other species absorb these toxins, and when predators eat them, the toxins are absorbed into the predator's tissues. As the chain of predators and prey moves up the food chain, toxins become more concentrated and travel higher and higher in the food web. Bioaccumulation is the process by which the concentration of a substance in the food chain increases. Pollutants can wreak havoc on the food chain, potentially killing off species.

(Video) Dr. Eric Sanderson, Chief Ecologist, Wildlife Conservation Society

natural disorders

A natural disturbance is any event that causes a disturbance in the current state of an ecosystem. Natural disturbances are caused by forces of nature, including weather, geology, and biological fluctuations. This can include fires, floods, earthquakes, disease and drought. After a disturbance affects an ecosystem, devastation can ensue, but healthy ecosystems have an amazing ability to bounce back. Some ecosystems even depend on disturbances, such as those threatenedlong leaf pineecosystem. Sometimes the ecosystem returns to its previous structure, with the same plant and animal species. In other cases, disturbance will create something new by allowing new species to populate the area.

Not all disorders are natural. Human action has contributed to many disturbances observed in ecosystems today. While natural disturbances occasionally occur, human disturbances constantly put pressure on ecosystems and have dramatic impacts on species. Human encroachments, including logging, habitat fragmentation and pollution, continually impact ecosystems. Just as the ecosystem adapts to one stress, another occurs. Many ecosystems we depend on don't have enough time to adapt to new conditions. The natural cycle of disturbances (growth, extinction and growth) cannot work properly because too many disturbances put pressure on the ecosystem at the same time.

corridors and migration routes

Wild animals are always on the move. They move from place to place in search of food, mates, shelter and water. Many animals don't have to go very far to satisfy all their needs, but other animals, such as migratory birds,Lobos,the mountain lion, Öbutterflies- needs much more space. Currently, many species with large territories, including gray wolves, are threatened becauseLoss of habitatand fragmentation have limited your available space. Roads, fences and buildings cut through habitat, forcing wildlife to live in smaller areas. Conservationists need to consider the diverse spatial needs of wildlife when designing conservation plans. You need to think about the size of the territory, the different types of habitats and the migratory routes that the wildlife requires.

A wildlife corridor is a piece of land that connects different wildlife habitats (eg sanctuaries, parks or rivers) that might otherwise be separated by human development. Wildlife corridors offer many benefits to wildlife. With corridors, animals are more likely to find the basic necessities they need: food, water, shelter, and places to raise their young. Animals that require larger territories can access new habitats and maintain a healthy home range. Also promote wildlife corridorsbiodiversity. When more individuals of a species are linked, the gene pool becomes larger and more viable. Migratory wildlife benefits from corridors because they can safely move long distances without encountering human development or automobiles. Species are more likely to survive disturbance when they have more undisturbed areas.

The National Wildlife Federation is working with the Santa Monica Mountains Trust to create aWildwechselfor mountain lions in California. Connecting protected habitats to both sides of a highway allows cougars and other wildlife access to the green spaces they need to survive. When completed, the Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing will be the largest crossing of its kind in the world and a model for urban wildlife conservation.

Unlike mammals, birds and butterflies travel from place to place by air and therefore face different challenges. Not only do we need to protect their winter and summer habitat, but also the main resting places that migratory wildlife uses along the way. Conservationists can help endangered bird and butterfly populations by protecting habitat along major flight paths, routes used by migratory birds and insects. Birds tend to follow predictable routes from winter feeding sites to summer breeding sites and vice versa. Migration routes often follow coastlines, major rivers, and nearby mountains. The United States has four main migration routes.

  • Pacific Flyway - along the Pacific coast, west of the Rocky Mountains
  • Central Flyway: over the Great Plains, east of the Rocky Mountains
  • Mississippi Flyway: a long way from Mississippi
  • Atlantic Flyway: along the Atlantic coast

A great way to help birds and butterflies migrate is to build aCertified by Wildlife Habitat®in your garden or balcony. Learn how to provide an important resting place and food source for migratory birds to reach their destination.

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