Opinion: Biodiversity crisis threatens humankind

Golden toads were discovered in Coata Rica in 1966. None have been seen since 1989, despite intensive surveys. They are presumed extinct. PHOTO COURTESY U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE.

It’s Endangered Species Day, so hug a boreal toad (if you can find one)

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — May 20 is Endangered Species Day, a good time to consider that the global wave of species extinction currently under way threatens human existence in ways we can’t even begin to understand.

It’s time to get serious about protecting habitat on a global scale to try  and preserve as many species as we can. At the same time, we have to put forth every effort to try and understand those species. Until we do, we’ll be “flying blind in the biosphere,” as biologist E. O. Wilson said.

Here’s a bit more from Wilson, the pre-eminent scholar in the field of biodiversity. I’m using a big quote because he is so much smarter and more eloquent than I am.

“How can we fully understand the ecology of a pond or forest patch without knowledge of the thousands of species–indeed millions when bacteria are included–the principal channels of materials and energy flow? How can we anticipate and control the spread of new crop diseases and human diseases if we do not know what they might be, or the location of their endemic reservoirs, or the identity of the insect and other vectors that carry them? And, finally, and I mean finally in the literal sense, how can we save Earth’s life forms from extinction if we don’t even know what most of them are?”

There are hundreds of species of plants and animals already listed as threatened or endangered, and another 330 species in the U.S. deserving of protection that have yet to be placed on the endangered species list. Click here for a complete overview of the U.S. endangered species program, including state by state and species by species breakdowns.

There are 74 animals on the Colorado endangered and threatened species list, including 19 birds, 23 fish, and 14 mammal species. Click here to see the full list.

Click here for the global Red List of endangered and threatened species.

Here’s the Colorado list:

Boreal Toad Bufo boreas boreas SE
Northern Cricket Frog Acris crepitans SC
Great Plains Narrowmouth Toad Gastrophryne olivacea SC
Northern Leopard Frog Rana pipiens SC
Wood Frog Rana sylvatica SC
Plains Leopard Frog Rana blairi SC
Couch’s Spadefoot Scaphiopus couchii SC

BIRDS

Whooping Crane Grus americana FE, SE
Least Tern Sterna antillarum FE, SE
Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Empidonax traillii extimus FE, SE
Plains Sharp-Tailed Grouse Tympanuchus phasianellus jamesii SE
Piping Plover Charadrius melodus circumcinctus FT, ST
Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus SC
Mexican Spotted Owl Strix occidentalis lucida FT, ST
Burrowing Owl Athene cunicularia ST
Lesser Prairie-Chicken Tympanuchus pallidicinctus ST
Western Yellow-Billed Cuckoo Coccyzus americanus SC
Greater Sandhill Crane Grus canadensis tabida SC
Ferruginous Hawk Buteo regalis SC
Gunnison Sage-Grouse Centrocercus minimus SC
American Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus anatum SC
Greater Sage Grouse Centrocercus urophasianus SC
Western Snowy Plover Charadrius alexandrinus SC
Mountain Plover Charadrius montanus SC
Long-Billed Curlew Numenius americanus SC
Columbian Sharp-Tailed Grouse Tympanuchus phasianellus columbianus SC

FISH

Bonytail Gila elegans FE, SE
Razorback Sucker Xyrauchen texanus FE, SE
Humpback Chub Gila cypha FE, ST
Colorado Pikeminnow Ptychocheilus lucius FE, ST
Greenback Cutthroat Trout Oncorhynchus clarki stomias FT, ST
Rio Grande Sucker Catostomus plebeius SE
Lake Chub Couesius plumbeus SE
Plains Minnow Hybognathus placitus SE
Suckermouth Minnow Phenacobius mirabilis SE
Northern Redbelly Dace Phoxinus eos SE
Southern Redbelly Dace Phoxinus erythrogaster SE
Brassy Minnow Hybognathus hankinsoni ST
Common Shiner Luxilus cornutus ST
Arkansas Darter Etheostoma cragini ST
Mountain Sucker Catostomus playtrhynchus SC
Plains Orangethroat Darter Etheostoma spectabile SC
Iowa Darter Etheostoma exile SC
Rio Grande Chub Gila pandora SC
Colorado Roundtail Chub Gila robusta SC
Stonecat Noturus flavus SC
Colorado River Cutthroat Trout Oncorhynchus clarki pleuriticus SC
Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout Oncorhynchus clarki virginalis SC
Flathead Chub Platygobio gracilus SC

MAMMALS

Gray Wolf Canis lupus FE, SE
Black-Footed Ferret Mustela nigripes FE, SE
Grizzly Bear Ursus arctos FT, SE
Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse Zapus hudsonius preblei FT, ST
Lynx Lynx canadensis FT, SE
Wolverine Gulo gulo SE
River Otter Lontra canadensis ST
Kit Fox Vulpes macrotis SE
Townsend’s Big-Eared Bat Corynorhinus townsendii pallescens SC
Black-Tailed Prairie Dog Cynomys ludovicianus SC
Botta’s Pocket Gopher Thomomy bottae rubidus SC
Northern Pocket Gopher Thomomys talpoides macrotis SC
Swift fox Vulpes velox SC

REPTILES

Triploid Checkered Whiptail Cnemidophorus neotesselatus SC
Midget Faded Rattlesnake Crotalus viridis concolor SC
Longnose Leopard Lizard Gambelia wislizenii SC
Yellow Mud Turtle Kinosternon flavescens SC
Common King Snake Lampropeltis getula SC
Texas Blind Snake Leptotyphlops dulcis SC
Texas Horned Lizard Phrynosoma cornutum SC
Roundtail Horned Lizard Phrynosoma modestum SC
Massasauga Sistrurus catenatus SC
Common Garter Snake Thamnophis sirtalis SC

MOLLUSKS

Rocky Mountain Capshell Acroloxus coloradensis SC
Cylindrical Papershell Anodontoides ferussacianus
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