What science is showing us that even if only one species is allowed to go extinct, can have a huge global impact on each of us. It's helpful to think of it in terms of a beautiful women rug. If there is one loose thread and it gets pulled, the whole carpet can unravel. Each stand in necessary to maintain the integrity of the rug.
Before the internet, the worldwide web might have referred to the intricate connections between all the living organisms and their environment. This system is often called the food chain, or food web. But it encompasses much more than just diet. Just like the beautiful tapestry we used as an analogy, this living web is held together by their interdependence on one another. This holds true for all living species; remove even one creature and those small changes aren't easily fixed. 'When you remove one element from a fragile ecosystem, it has far-reaching and long-lasting effects on biodiversity,' says World Wildlife Fund. Many of the endangered species are "top-tier" predators whose numbers are falling due to conflicts with humans. One such animal is the grey wolf. Without these wolves to keep the other animals' in check, we end up with an exploding prey population. Elk populations in the western US grew significantly after many of the wolf population were wiped out in the first half of the 20th century. The larger elk population nearly wiped out "willow and other riparian plants" that little songbirds no longer had sufficient food or cover in those areas. See how this works?
The loss of the larger, better known (and often more beautiful) animals are what make the news; animals like the wolves, polar bears, tigers, and rhinos but the loss of even the smallest insect can have a profound and far-reaching effect. One such critter is the freshwater mussel. There are 300 species of mussels in North American rivers and lakes. Nearly all of them are threatened. But these little mussels play an important part in the aquatic ecosystem. Raccoons, otters, herons, and egrets are among the many different wildlife that eats mussels. Too, mussels filter water for food. So, in effect, they are a natural filtration system! "In their absence, these dependent species settle elsewhere, lower the available food source for their predators and in turn causing those predators to leave the area. Like the gray wolf, even the small mussel's disappearance acts like a domino, toppling the entire ecosystem one related species at a time."
It's important that we all work together to keep the web intact. Each thread, no matter how large or how small and insignificant it may seem, is vitally important to the health and welfare of the planet. "Losing even a small strand in the web of life contributes to the unraveling of our planet's sustainability, the fine balance of biodiversity that affects each and every one of us."