For a long time, scientists all over the world have tried finding ways to bring back extinct species. However, a new study claims that resurrecting these long-dead organisms is a bad idea.
According to researchers, which include experts from the University of Queensland, resurrecting extinct species would result to biodiversity loss instead of gain. The study was published in Nature Ecology and Evolution .
“If the risk of failure and the costs associated with establishing viable populations could also be calculated, estimates of potential net losses or missed opportunities would probably be considerably higher,” pointed out UQ scientist Professor Hugh Possingham.”De-extinction could be useful for inspiring new science and could be beneficial for conservation if we ensure it doesn’t reduce existing conservation resources.
The professor, who is a Chief Scientist with The Nature Conservancy and a scientist at the Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Program Threatened Species Recovery Hub, adds that the best thing to do is to focus on the many species that desperately need our help. He adds that it is very unlikely that the de-extinction of species could be done to conserve biodiversity considering the risks and missed opportunity involved in doing so.
The research team, which was led by Dr Joseph Bennett, formerly of the ARC Centre for Environmental Decisions at UQ and now of Carleton University, Canada, estimated the number of species the New Zealand and New South Wales governments could afford to conserve. The researchers based the estimates on recently extinct species and similar species that are still around.
The species included in the estimate were the Lord Howe pigeon, eastern bettong, bush moa and Waitomo frog. Consequently, the team found that reintroducing some species that have become extinct recently might improve local biodiversity if they are placed in their old habitats.
However, the experts also found that around 11 extinct species in New Zealand would also negatively affect the status of 31 extant species. Overall, it has been estimated that the government would put many extant species at risk if extinct species get resurrected. In NSW, using the fund to revive five dead species should be used to save 42 extant species instead.
However, the team said that if de-extinction becomes a reality, the researchers suggest analyzing where the species must be reintroduced. Picking the right species to revive is also crucial, the researchers added.