The Challenge Of Change
Many plants and animals, well-adapted to their habitat, cannot survive sudden changes in their environment. They must have adequate time to develop new survival mechanisms and/or skills. Among the animal species most affected by change are:
- Large-bodied herbivores that require extensive spaces and ample resources to sustain them (e.g. elephants, bison, gorilla).
- Animals that have specialized diets (e.g. koala, panda, Everglades kite).
- Top carnivores with relatively small populations that are susceptible to overharvesting and/or changes in prey availability (e.g. wolves, tiger, bears).
- Species adapted for a stable environment that live long lives, breed slowly, and consequently take a long time to recover if their populations are reduced (e.g. blue whale, rhinos, hyacinth macaw).
- Island species, as well as other geographically isolated species, that are frequently adapted to predator-free or competitor-free habitats (e.g. Galapagos tortoise, Nene goose, lemurs).
Even seemingly common and widespread organisms are facing rapid extinction. Many animals, especially reptiles, are threatened by trade exploitation, extermination because of human fear or traditions, and habitat degradation.