Plight of the unsung ecosystems



Although science aims to eliminate bias, it can never be fully objective. Wildlife and conservation research are far from being exempt from this tendency. For example, flagship species often take precedence over species that may be in more dire need of assistance. Factors such as species' role within ecosystems, their habitat range, degree of endangerment and taxonomic uniqueness do not stand much chance when competing against "charismatic" species receiving adulation from the public and funding agencies. This is not to say that these emblematic species should not be recipients of conservation attention. However, considering the all-too limited funding pot available to conservation projects, taking a system perspective rather than a species perspective, by considering flagship species as part of a larger whole—i.e., at the ecosystem scale—is crucial, although unfortunately not often achieved.


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Lac Alaotra, Madagascar; Credit Arnaud De Grave