Ed Golson Outdoor Education

what are endangered species?

You may be wondering, what exactly are threatened and endangered species? According to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, an endangered species is one which is in danger of extinction through all or a large range of living.  A threatened species on the other hand is one that is likely to become an endangered species within the near future in all or a large portion of its range of living.

A more important question might be, "What causes a plant or animal to become endangered?" This question has many different answers, depending on what type of plant or animal you are talking about. The most common answer is loss of habitat. As the human population expands, we build homes and businesses where once there were forests or grasslands. Some species can deal with the changes; others can't. Some living things have very specific requirements for their habitat. Even the smallest disturbance can upset them enough to cause them to become endangered.  

Another common reason some species are becoming endangered is pollution. Humans have a history of not taking care of hazardous materials like we should. Oftentimes harmful chemicals we have used find their way into the environment where they can make plants and animals very sick.

A third way that plants and animals can become endangered is through the introduction of invasive species. Invasive species are plants or animals that were originally found somewhere else in the world. One way or another, they found their way to Michigan and changed the natural balance. Some invasive animals eat the native species. Other times invasive species simply out-compete a native species and end up pushing them entirely out of the environment.

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