Zoology:Saving Endanger Species
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      Museum scientists study the habitats of endangered species to learn what makes them suitable. The most immediate concern in saving an endangered species is the protection of its habitat. Without the proper habitat, a species cannot meet its most basic needs for survival-food, shelter, and a place to reproduce and live. 

Scientists also study the species' life cycle to determine how the environment affects an animal at each stage of its growth. Zoologists hope that their studies will tell them why a species thrives in certain places.

Genetic Variability

In some cases, scientists may attempt to determine the genetic variability in the population of a species at the different locations where it is found. If the genetic variability is very low in an area, then the population may not be able to adapt to changes and may be in danger of disappearing. They also conduct surveys to find and describe additional populations. All of this information gives us an idea of how we can sustain populations and help them to increase through habitat management.

Once we know more about a species' population and habitat, we can make intelligent decisions about how to begin protecting or restoring habitats. For animals such as the Hine's emerald dragonfly, this means protecting headwaters of streams and managing vegetation. Protection of aquatic environments is essential to the survival of the larvae of this dragonfly. Survival of the larvae is critical to the survival of the dragonfly. 

The Hine's emerald dragonfly was put on the state endangered species list in Illinois in 1991 and the federal endangered species list in 1995. This protected the Hine's dragonfly by prohibiting its collection from the wild except by special permit.

Hines Emerald DragonflyWhen a plant or animal is placed on the federal endangered species list, then an appointed "recovery team" must prepare and submit a recovery plan to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. A number of experts in the field agree to serve on the recovery team and decide what is the best way to develop a plan to recover the species (or whether or not it can be recovered). Whether through management or recovery of populations, the ultimate goal is to improve conditions so that the species can eventually be removed from the endangered species list. A recovery plan includes information on the minimum number and size of populations that would be needed to sustain the species indefinitely. Museum zoologists are working on the recovery plan for the Hine's emerald dragonfly.


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