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Forbes: How Some Species Can Go Extinct Twice

Forbes: How Some Species Can Go Extinct Twice

February 25, 2022

Natural Sciences, Research News

Forbes–An international team of scientists recently published a study, co-authored by ecologist Uri Roll, a senior lecturer at BGU, arguing that species can go extinct twice.

There is the biological extinction event, that tragic moment when the last member of a species lives no more, but there’s also societal extinction, which occurs when that species is expunged from our collective memory and cultural knowledge.

Species can disappear from our societies, cultures, and even our consciousness at the same time as, or even before, human actions push them over the edge into oblivion.

Similar to biological extinction, societal extinction can have serious conservation consequences.

“[J]ust as population declines may lead to biological extinction, the decline of collective attention and memory may lead to the societal extinction of species, which can seriously affect conservation efforts”, said conservation biologist Ivan Jarić, lead author of the study and a researcher Biology Centre of the Czech Academy of Sciences.

Societal extinction, as a phenomenon, has been noted before and remarked upon in the scientific literature. For example, communities in southwestern China and indigenous peoples in Bolivia were found to have lost their local knowledge and memory of extinct bird species.

“Such loss of memory got to the point where people were unable to even name those species, and didn’t remember what those species looked like, or their songs”, ecologist Uri Roll, co-author of the study and senior lecturer at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, said.

“Similarly, the extinct Japanese wolf, okami, has only a few specimens that can be found in museums nowadays, which challenges memory of the species within Japanese society.”

Read more in Forbes >>