According to a recent and very interesting study, which the journal The American Naturalist published, the survival of species might depend solely on chance, no matter how hard are people trying to save them. According to the scientists from Lund University in Sweden, certain conservation initiatives might be in vain when it comes to endangered species, mostly because of this factor: chance. It’s worth noting that completely different species have no trouble living in the same environment as they do not need to compete for resources.
However, when two or more similar species live nearby, usually, a species outcompetes the other when it comes to finding natural resources. This is what traditional ecological theory tells us. It’s interesting that not many studies have considered chance and the role it plays in certain species’ survivability rate, locally. The study is one of the first and the most extensive. It contains experiments as well as computer simulations and field studies. According to the results that the researchers obtained, chance plays a big part. This is why it’s impossible to say ahead which one of two species will die out.
Chance plays a big part in species’ survivability rate
It’s worth noting that apart from chance, the team has also studies another important factor: the negative frequency-dependence. You can think of it as an elastic band. When a species becomes rare, it suddenly pulls back. This is mostly because the remaining few individuals of that species gain certain advantages. The effect is also interesting because this rare species becomes common once again, due to the fact that the remaining few don’t have much competition anymore.
According to Erik Svensson, the leader of the study, sometimes, this elastic band doesn’t work properly, or pulls back too late. The effect is the extinction of the species, locally. This is why conservation efforts are very useful, even if sometimes, they might fall victim to chance.
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